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It seems like every time I read one of Cal Thomas’s opinion pieces I find something that sticks in my craw. The latest, buried in a column about Calvin Coolidge, is this little snippet:

Republicans can never win a debate about ‘fairness,’ even though it is unfair to disproportionately penalize the productive.

How dare he?

Thomas is, first and foremost, a political pundit. What does a political pundit of whatever stripe produce beyond hot air, ink blots, and biological waste products? You could put an inkjet printer on top of a space heater and get the same “production” without the manure.

Let me make this plain: I am not an adherent of the labor theory of value — not in any way, shape, or form. But I do believe in the value of labor.

A coal miner digs coal. He or she does so at significant personal risk, and for the use of others. How can you possibly say that a coal miner is not “productive”?

A farmer expends time, energy, and money to grow food. If you can say that a farmer is not “productive,” I hope you are prepared to skip a few meals.

So let’s not disproportionately tax coal miners, or others who toil with their hands. They are producing things.

Why are the wealthy, the so-called “job creators,” deemed productive? Because they eat the farmer’s food, or burn the coal miner’s coal? Yes, that is the theory: that they are the ones who ultimately pay the wages of the lumpenproletariat. But how much can a rich man eat? How much coal can he burn? It’s not like the majority of the wealthy hand out goods on street corners (some do, bless their hearts): that would be welfare, which Mr. Thomas and others of his ilk would say just makes people lazy. No, the very wealthy are not particularly job creators.

The sister argument is that the rich create wealth, thereby making the economic pie bigger and making everybody more prosperous. Well, guess what: that just isn’t happening. The pie might or might not have gotten bigger, but I and millions of my fellows don’t see any extra lemon meringue on our plates.

I’m sorry, the rich are mostly hoarding wealth. They collect bank accounts and investments like those women on TV who have 27 cats. According to a Wall Street Journal article of July 13, the rich have some $10 trillion dollars lying around that isn’t even invested in anything, productive or not. And according to a BBC report dated July 22, 2010

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study.

The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.

The latter is drawn from a report paid for by an organization that could be considered left-leaning; but the WSJ, and its owner Rupert Murdoch, are not known for their socialist slant.

So you tell me (or keep it to yourself, I don’t care): are the super-wealthy truly the productive members of society?