Perhaps America’s most beloved and respected president was Abraham Lincoln, who now shares a national holiday—Presidents Day—with George Washington.  Today most Democrats would oppose him, as they once did in 1860.  He opposed slavery and socialism.  He saw nothing in the Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, worthy of emulation.

On the ownership of property Abraham Lincoln’s feelings were especially strong, he said, “Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; is a positive good in the world.  That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprises” (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, pp. 259-260).  Lincoln might have added “which produces jobs for those not rich.”

To him there was no need to take by force the wealth of those who produce and give it to those less productive, as has always been the prescription of socialism.  The “share the wealth” philosophy of socialism brought on by “envy politics,” so articulated by the Democratic Party today, was a foreign ideology to the Civil War president, who had read and rejected Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

The answer to ending poverty is not class envy, first identified by Aristotle some 2,500 years ago as being the natural inclination of those with less, a philosophy implemented by Lenin in Russia when the communists identified those holding property as enemies of the state and liquidated some four to eight million farmers, the “Kulaks” (“The Russian Kulaks,”  Then, they wondered why the country had such a horrific famine in 1921-1922 when millions starved.

No money was set aside for, or provided to, any class or special interest group in our Constitution.  The power distributed benefited all equally and at the same time.  The federal role was as referee only.  Our Constitution does not redistribute wealth; it leaves the individual to do that for himself by his work ethic.  It remains the fairest way.

Will income inequality be the outcome?  Yes!  Free men are not equal and equal men are not free.  But all will have more under capitalism than had we instead forced income equality by taking from those who produce and giving it to those who do not.  We remain anxious to share our wealth producing philosophy with our less prosperous neighbors and the world so that all can have more, but individuals stealing it from us, or using the government to do it for them, known as legalized plunder, is just wrong and disincentivizes those who produce.

Lincoln’s answer to the poor, from which he sprang himself, “Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence….”  Unfortunately, many in our society have forgotten the “labor diligently” part of his phrase and have come to expect the government to provide, from the industry of others, their every need.  On that score Lincoln said sarcastically.  “You toil and work and earn bread, and I will eat it.”  He viewed this principle as a form of tyranny/slavery on those who work.  Today approximately 47% of the adult population pay no federal income tax; many actually receive benefits for which they have paid nothing.

Watching others acquire wealth was, in fact, a sign of a healthy economy for Lincoln. “I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can.  Some will get wealthy.  I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good.” Nor would he have supported the hundreds of laws that we have today that disincentivizes a man trying to acquire wealth.

His view sounds similar to those expressed by President Trump in his 2019 State of the Union Address.  “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.  America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination and control.  We are BORN FREE, and we will STAY FREE.  Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will NEVER be a socialist country.”

The new calls for socialism in our country referenced above were recently dropped by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s long-awaited Green New Deal  endorsed by recently announced Democratic presidential candidates, Senators: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand seemingly each attempting to “out socialize” opponents.

Paying the estimated $7 trillion price tag required would result in a 90% tax take which, ironically, is the definition of slavery—the very thing Lincoln is credited as having ended.  It would end air travel and radically effect every other aspect of life.  It would also redistribute vast new sums of less valued printed paper money making all equally poor.

Socialists may hate the “Walmarts” or the “McDonalds” all they want, but these provide the poor tens of thousands of jobs.  Do not bite the hand that feeds you, then wonder where the jobs and prosperity went, as did the early Russian socialists.  The “share the wealth” philosophy, which Lincoln opposed, and endorsed now by the Democratic Party, has never brought long term general prosperity for any people, any place, or any time.

Dr. Harold W. Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. 

Comments are not available on this story.