Monday, September 26, 2011

"Pay their fair share"

According to Obama’s current mantra, the rich should “pay their fair share.” Some conservatives respond that that’s “class warfare.”

However, that’s an inadequate response. What’s wrong with class warfare?

I oppose soak-the-rich tax policies, but I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I don’t like the rich. My parents were middle class. I attended public school K-12 with a mix of middle class and working class students. So that’s the demographic group I naturally relate to. I had the ability to move up the ladder, but I never aspired to move up the ladder.

The rich feel entitled to special treatment. I don’t share their self-importance.

Likewise, I don’t respect the lifestyle of the rich. But at least they’re spending their own money, whereas the gov’t is spending our money.

So I don’t oppose class warfare because I have a soft spot for the rich. Rather, I do so for other reasons:

i) Let’s begin with the phrase “pay their fair share.” At one level, you can’t object to that statement. Shouldn’t everybody pay their fair share?

It’s one of those tautologous slogans that builds a premise into the definition. But by the same token it begs the question.

ii) To “pay” for something assumes you don’t own it in the first place. You pay for goods and services. An exchange. A quid pro quo.

iii) But, of course, that fundamentally misrepresents the transaction. This isn’t about the rich buying something. Rather, this is about the gov’t taking something. This isn’t about the rich paying for something, but about gov’t taking from the rich.

Now we might still argue that that’s justifiable, but let’s not miscast the issue in terms of who’s “paying their fair share.”

iv) Suppose two girls go out to pick blackberries together. They agree to divvy up what they pick.

Say the girls split up. Say both girls spend all their time picking blackberries. At the end of the day, one girl has more berries in her basket than the other because her berry patch had more berries.

Still, both girls are entitled to the same share, both because they agreed to that in advance, and because they put in the same amount of work.

But suppose, instead, that one girl spends half her time picking berries, and the other half eating berries. At the end of the day she only has half as many berries in her basket.

Now there’s nothing wrong with her eating the berries she picked. But she’s not entitled to eat half the berries, then demand half the berries from the other girl. That’s not her fair share.

v) There’s also the problem of penalizing success and rewarding failure. That’s a disincentive to prosperity.

vi) Another problem is that “income redistribution” is a misnomer. Even if you believe in the principle of income distribution, that’s not what a graduated tax code actually does.

It’s not as if the gov’t skims off crème of what the rich make, then sends us middle class or working class folks a check in the mail. It’s not a direct transfer of wealth from the haves to the have-nots.

vii) Rather, gov’t takes from the rich, and gives it to special interest groups. It’s a way of bribing certain voting blocks.

viii) In addition, liberals don’t think you can be trusted with your own money. They don’t give you money–they give you social programs. They’re taking from the rich, then using that to do what they think is good for you.

ix) When liberals take from the rich, they simultaneously take control away from the rest of us. For their coercive social programs come with strings attached. Reams of mandatory regulations.

x) Finally, as long as gov’t can hike taxes, there’s no incentive to cut spending. 


  1. Yes, the Liberals will take from the rich so they can hire someone to reach in and adjust the temperature of the water while you're taking a shower.

  2. Tax revenue has been about a steady 18% no matter what the tax rates are, taxes are not the issue..the issue is the size of government. Conservatives have not discussed reducing the size of government in any meaningful way and instead they applaud themselves for a 3% reduction in taxes.