Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers, is a columnist living in Colorado. Email: SpeaktoJay@aol.com.
Michael Moore, heavily weighted down with concern for fellow Americans — his nation harbors “possibly the dumbest people on the planet,” he once said — was tromping around in Denver recently. And no, even though I was just 25 or so miles west of him in my house, I did not feel the earth quake. I did catch him in the news being vicious with one of those he thought stupid.
“You’re just punk media is all you are. You lie. You lie to people,” he growled to a TV reporter covering his appearance at a local version of Occupy Wall Street. These occupiers, you may have heard, aren’t exactly sure what they believe except that many talk like they are to the left of Lenin. They shudder at anything as free as our markets used to be and appear to believe we are divided between 1 percent who are rich and the other 99 percent who are groveling in misery. The reporter wanted to know whether Moore was one of the 1 percent. He asked whether reports were true that Moore was worth $50 million, and Moore — though conceding he did “very well” — called the question a lie, which is peculiar on several grounds.
For one, it was a question, not an assertion. For another, one of the tricks in his documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” was to ask politicians embarrassing, phony questions, though the film was edited in such a way as to leave utterly false impressions about two of his victims. That brings up a third point: Misleading information is Moore’s modus operandi, his way to fame and fortune, his means of capturing an Oscar, the sea in which he swims. The “Fahrenheit” film made a bigger profit than any documentary in history, but Moore should return all that money to cheated viewers. An overall bash of President George W. Bush, with particular attention to the war in Iraq, it contained 59 deceits, according to research by Dave Kopel that is absolutely convincing. Kopel is research director for a libertarian think tank in Denver, Independence Institute, with which I myself have had an uncompensated association.
All of which brings us back to Occupy Wall Street. It reeks of the same kind of hallucinatory zaniness, not the least of which is this business of the rich getting away with taxpayer murder. For the genesis of The Big Lie, go back to the Bush tax cuts that did give tax breaks to the rich but also gave plenty to the middle class, even relieving some workers of any federal tax burden at all. The overall result was that the rich paid a higher share of the income tax than they had before, though you would not know it from listening to liberals who have also been sounding the theme that income inequality has been increasing at breakneck speed, with the middle class being stomped on mercilessly.
As the economist Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute demonstrates with figures from the Census Bureau, income inequality has increased relatively little over the past 16 years. Perry can also show how all income groups have been advancing over the past three decades.
Another economist, Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University, quotes the IRS as showing that, as of 2005, 57.4 percent of those in the top 1 percent economically in 1996 had dropped to lower income groups. People in lower groups, meanwhile, have been climbing to higher groups.
That’s not to say joblessness doesn’t haunt us. Here’s why: a fiscal crisis brought on by the Federal Reserve and mostly liberals conniving in Congress with Fannie Mae and Wall Street to get mortgages in the hands of people who could not afford them. That gave us a fiscal crisis and a recession made worse by President Obama’s mismanagement of deficits and additional regulations scaring businesses out of expansion.
But there are still Americans making money. Capitalist Moore was in Denver not just to parade with the occupiers, but to sell a book to those “dummies.” I forget its title.