There is a toxic notion abroad in the land that “the rich” should open their wallets to defray the costs of the programs-no matter how stupid or noxious these programs might be-that Congress arbitrarily creates. A notion even more destructive to the economic health of the country is that the government actually owns our money and merely decides how much can be kept by citizens.

The idea that the rich should decide what do with their money is anathema to President Obama. He is particularly concerned with their “excess” income, as he took pains to make clear in yesterday’s presser on the failing debt ceiling negotiations, where he said:

And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans.

Commentary blogger John Steele Gordon observes that this statement by the president “demonstrates an astonishing economic illiteracy.”  In his ideological drive to separate  the rich (he graciously concedes that he is rich, but unlike a lot of bums he admits that he is so above it all that he doesn’t really need all his money) from their money, Obama shows that he doesn’t understand how they use their ill-gotten gains in ways that benefit the economy:

But, unlike Scrooge McDuck, the rich do not put the excess in a vast money bin and frolic about in it. They invest it. What a concept! Where does Obama think new capital comes from, the tooth fairy? It’s nothing more than the excess of income over outgo. Take away the income the rich “don’t need” and spend it on social programs, and capital formation in this country drops to zero.

We’re beginning to see what happens when an economic illiterate is in charge of our economy.