Human Events Blog

Hillary Clinton: Rich people don’t contribute to the growth of their countries

Earlier this week, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, Hillary Clinton dispensed some deep thoughts about the planetary menace of greedy rich people:

And one of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country.  You know I’m out of American politics, but it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don’t invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally.

And so it means for leaders telling powerful people things they don’t want to hear. It means being transparent about budgets and revenues and bringing corruption to light. And when that happens, we shouldn’t punish countries for uncovering corruption. We should reward them for doing so. And it means putting in place regulations designed to attract and protect investment.

I just met in the last few days with the new president of a country who is trying to tackle corruption, and I said, “Well, I have here a lot of the international lists of where your country stands on business climate, on corruption, on government transparency, and you are near or at the bottom. And it is time for you to recognize that in an interconnected global economy, you will benefit from doing what you should be doing internally for yourself.” And so we have to have that kind of hard talk, which we do on a regular basis.

So for nearly four years, this Administration has been updating our development assistance with these objectives in mind. We designed our Feed the Future food security initiative and our Global Health Initiative with an emphasis on country ownership and investment. We launched an ambitious reform initiative under Dr. Raj Shah’s leadership, USAID Forward, which among other things focuses on how to identify and bring to scale path-breaking innovations. And we’re creating groundbreaking renewable energy investment vehicles in Africa through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. And we’ve launched a range of public-private partnerships through our Global Partnership Initiative. In fact, I announced one example here two years ago, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which is working to help 100 million households in developing countries switch to clean cookstoves by 2020 to save lives, improve health, and reduce climate change.

(Emphases mine.)  Everyone has been trying to figure out what Clinton meant by this rambling, incoherent passage.  Is she calling for a global tax on evil rich people?  Was this just mindless class-warfare rhetoric, burbling reflexively from the Secretary of State before she embarked on a standard laundry list of foreign policy programs?  Nothing she said in the last paragraph, after “so for nearly four years,” has much of anything to do with the corruption and government transparency she discussed in the second and third paragraphs; and none of that had much to do with the “rich people do not donate to their countries” bilge in the first.

The arrogance and cluelessness of an Obama Administration socialist saying “There are rich people everywhere, and yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries” is mind-blowing.  Who do you think is paying the bulk of the taxes, Mrs. Clinton?  In the United States, the top 1 percent of income earners pay for 37 percent of those “public schools and hospitals.”  The top 10 percent provide 70 percent of the cost.

And more importantly, the investment and business acumen of rich people is the primary thing that contributes to the growth of countries.  Policies like Barack Obama’s can sharply retard growth, and wise policies can enhance it, but it’s always private enterprise that drives it.  It is simply amazing to hear an adult American woman peddling baby-talk fantasies about a government-managed “prosperity” in which nobody gets rich.

And it’s amazing to hear Clinton segue from her class-warfare claptrap to talking about “attracting and protecting investment,” or lecturing some hapless foreign leader about “business climate, government corruption, and transparency.”  Under the Administration served by Hillary Clinton, the United States has tumbled to eighteenth place in economic freedom according to the Fraser Institute.  Obama Administration “transparency” is a sick joke, with the punch line hidden somewhere on the Fast and Furious documents Obama shielded with dubious claims of executive privilege.  Corruption is rampant, from the Solyndra debacle to ObamaCare waivers.  And Hillary Clinton’s party doesn’t do budgets any more.

It’s tough to offer the defense that Clinton was exclusively criticizing Third World kleptocracies, since she made a point of dragging the United States into the discussion right off the bat.  Let us be rid of these insufferable people, and begin restoring the economic freedom their ideology has stolen.  Perhaps the next Secretary of State will be able to address a global forum on the subjects of opportunity, prosperity, transparency, and honest government without provoking guffaws.

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