The Corner

First Principles

Andrew Stuttaford and Mark Steyn both make excellent points in their exgeses of Denise Rich, of Marc Rich pardon scandal fame (with featured players Bill Clinton and Eric Holder). The Wall Street Journal refreshes our memory: 

Another wealthy American has given up U.S. citizenship and the taxes that go with it: Denise Rich, the Grammy-award-nominated songwriter and ex-wife of commodities trader Marc Rich. Rich’s maiden name, Denise Eisenberg, appeared in the Federal Register on April 30 on a quarterly list giving the names of those who turned in their passports or green cards. The next list is scheduled to be released on July 30…

In 2001 President Bill Clinton granted Mr. Rich, who at the time was a fugitive wanted for U.S. tax fraud and issues involving illicit oil trading with Iran, a pardon on his last day in office. Critics charged that the pardon was in exchange for Denise Rich’s substantial donations to President and Ms. Clinton’s campaigns and to the Democratic party.

A spokesperson for Denise Rich said that she expatriated in order to be closer to her longtime life partner, Peter Cervinka, as well as her friends and family. She will be an Austrian citizen. Her deceased father, Emil Eisenberg, was a refugee from Hitler’s Germany who became a wealthy shoe manufacturer in Worcester, Mass., where Rich grew up.

Ms. Rich’s actions — perfectly defensible, by the way — are the context for larger discussions of America’s onerous tax laws (Mark) and, even more important, something Andrew raises en passant — the eventual and inexorable ensnarement of the entire population in various harebrained leftist schemes that masquerade under the guises of their favorite evil twins, “fairness” and “compassion”: 

The AMT was originally targeted at around 150 people. It catches a touch more than that today. When the federal income tax was reintroduced in 1913, it was paid by fewer than 1 percent of the population. And then there’s capital gains (due to rise, of course, courtesy of Mr. Obama), and still not adjusted for inflation, a deliberate anomaly that means the taxpayer pays real taxes on unreal “gains”.

What does it tell you when a prominent liberal like Ms. Rich flees back to central Europe? It tells me that even liberals can’t live with the consequences of their own programs, which means that those programs were philosophically flawed from the outset. Each time the Democrats come up with a new exercise in “compassion,” we know from bitter experience that (a) their cost projections are vastly underestimated, and (b) the program, once set on its course, must and will by its own internal logic grow until it consumes all available revenue. And, as far as the nihilistic Left is concerned, that’s not a bug — it’s a feature!

This is what comes from accepting the “moral” basis of anything the atheist Left argues. Yet they keep pushing more of them upon us (e.g. ObamaTax), as if we all haven’t learned the definition of insanity by now. And the Right — in the form of the Stupid Party — falls for this time and again. As John Roberts just taught everybody, the time to strangle a leftist program is in its cradle, not when it’s a bumptious adolescent with the sap rising, like Siegfried in the first act of the opera that bears his name, forging swords and chopping anvils in half. 

So, first principles: Cui bono? It should be apparent by now that “progressive” policies are designed to do one thing and one thing only, and that is to keep “progressives” in positions of authority and control. Because for them, the only principle that matters is self-preservation. 

Too bad our side can’t say the same thing. 

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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