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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
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Fair Taxation?

Comment

God bless him. Joe the plumber, that is, for coaxing from Sen. Obama his true motive for raising taxes. It isn't to fund the government, or deal with the deficit, or to establish a rainy day fund. It's to "spread the wealth around," which the Illinois senator insists is "good for everyone."

Sen. Obama calls this a "tax fairness plan," but what is fair?

Everyone knows that some people work harder than others. We've all witnessed it. If John Q chooses to work 60 hours a week to advance his career, and Henry Y prefers to spend time playing video games, who is to say that Henry deserves some of the extra income John has earned? Is that fairness? I call it completely unfair.

What's that? John and Henry didn't start out in life in the same position? Well, that's true. But there is no such thing as a totally equal society. (Nor is it desirable.) Even in places like Sweden, some are born into loving, wealthy two-parent families and others are born to alcoholic single mothers. Some have good looks and talent, others don't. No society south of Heaven can ever be completely equal. But the essential justice of a society is measured, I believe, not by whether you have equality of condition but by whether you have equal opportunity. Not only is this more fair in principle, it is also more successful in practice. People do not work for the general good. They work for their own individual ends, which in turn promotes the general welfare. Societies that ask workers to labor for "the people" get poor results. As the joke from the old Soviet Union had it — "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work." By contrast, the capacity of the American economy to reward effort and initiative is legendary and has lured ambitious people to our shores for more than two centuries. It has also made us the wealthiest society in history.

You don't have to look at socialist countries to know that redistribution of income punishes success and rewards sloth. We've seen it here. Our welfare system was intended to help the poor — but because it was poorly structured, it wound up discouraging work and marriage, thus prolonging poverty rather than alleviating it for many.

Here's another problem for Sen.

Obama: He wants to spread the wealth around as if wealth and poverty and "middle-classness" (to use the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's terminology) were fixed categories. They aren't. Economic and social mobility in the United States is the norm, not the exception.

Using data from the Current Population Survey, the National Center for Policy Analysis looked at income quintiles over time. They found that after one year, one-third of those in the bottom quintile had moved up, and one-quarter of those in the top group had moved down. After 10 years, 60 percent of those in the bottom group had moved up to higher quintiles, with 8 percent getting all the way into the top quintile. Correspondingly, 6 percent of those in the top quintile went all the way to the bottom after 10 years, and 54 percent of those at the top had moved to some lower group 10 years later.

Democrats like to talk about "the rich" as if they are a fixed group of individuals, but anecdotal evidence suggests that two-thirds of those on the Forbes 400 list in 1994 were no longer on the list a decade later. And 80 percent of those on the list were self-made.

People tend to begin their work lives at or near the bottom quintile of income. White male 21-year-olds, for example, begin at the 20 percentile in overall white men's income. As they gain experience and skills, they move up. By age 31, they reach the 50th percentile mark. And between the ages of 31 and 59, they average near the 60th percentile mark for all workers. When they get close to retirement age, their incomes tend to fall.

We already have a steeply progressive income tax, with the top 5 percent of earners paying 60 percent of the taxes (in 2006), and the top 25 percent paying 86 percent. Obama wants to perform an experiment by confiscating more of the income of the most productive earners (who create the overwhelming majority of jobs) and distributing it to those who earn less.

It's been done before — with dreadful results. Call it socialism if you like. But don't call it "fairness."

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
What's the matter, Mona? Do you earn >$250,000? I've read your article but where is this American wealth of which you speak? Is it in our infrastructure? Our educational system? Our healthcare system? Our social security system? Our childcare? Our inner cities? Our clean water or our clean air? Where exactly is all this wealth I hear so much about? It's not in my neighborhood, not in my city, not in my pocket. Is it in yours? If so, why? If the wealthy are earning their money in and off America and its people and resources and not putting the money back into the country that gave them the opportunity, the resources and the low paid workers, then tax them in proportion to their wealth and assets as you do the rest of American's. Then use those tax dollars and really invest them into this country and it's people. Imagine this country when low paid workers can go to work for their wealthy employers knowing there is transportation, child care, good schools, and paid healthcare not coming out of their $10 an hour paycheck. You say people will no longer strive. I say we will become more productive, not less, and people will be happier if just some of that ridiculous wealth accumulated by the few were fairly and proportionately taxed and invested back into our country for our people and not just diverted back into the same pockets it came out of.
Comment: #1
Posted by: liz
Tue Oct 21, 2008 1:08 AM
Taxpayers, of all races, will never see their children graduate from high school, let alone
college. Obama's plans for 'creating' whatever he plans to create, which really, no one knows,
is going to cost trillions that America doesn't have, due to social and welfare programs that the
'tax & spenders' have created. Obama's already gotten several millions sent to Chicago, in the past
few months, for more social and welfare programs!
You and I both know, this social and welfare spending, by Pelosi, Rangel, Clinton, Reid, Kennedy, Obama,
just to name a few, has caused Bankruptcy, leaving America owing trillions of dollars to foreign countries!
Taxpayers, of all races, have just lost all respect for Colin Powell. His endorsement for Obama shows
his lack of intregrity, honesty, character and common sense, just so he can seat himself on Obama's
staff! This should tell you that politicians will do anything due to greed! Taxpayers now know Obama's about nothing but Greed and how much money he can take back to the Chicago community and Africa, money that
America no longer has!

Obama's Book, tells Taxpayers what he's all about! If you read, at all, between the
lines, when he talks about “In the beginning he was raised by white grandparents
and now “My Mother would get me up at 4:30, make me study, and I'd complain,
and she'd say and I quote “this is unfair to me too, Buster!” He's a liar! he's
demanding, cocky, and will create more conflict on American soil.

As far as experience, Colin Powell talks about, Sarah Palin just didn't ‘fall off the
turnip truck!' What experience does Obama and Joe Biden have? Absolutely no
experience and neither Obama nor Biden are qualified to be President of the USA.

Obama's hype and inexperience doesn't make a Senator let alone President!
Obama's never been in military, has no concept of military and wars! He thinks by
sitting down with the terrorists, who wants to kill Americans, and discuss his
‘plans to stop the wars' that he'll create some sort of understanding. Taxpayers
know this is the quickest way to bring about another 9/11, except this time it'll be
world wide!

September 11th must be on your mind when you vote! It'll be on all minds of
Military personnel, as they're fighting to keep Americans safe.

If you think Senator Obama and Joe Biden are going to fix America's problems,
why haven't they already done so?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:01 AM
Re: liz;... Aren't these reactionaries cool...They drive down wages relentlessly, and then say, well they don't pay taxes. What a lie... Are they working only for their wages??? Do they not create value there??? Do they not pay gasoline taxes, tolls, sales taxes??? What kind of animal forces another human being to the lowest ebb of life, a hand to mouth existence little better than cave men, and then slams them for not paying taxes... The rich pay no more taxes than they must, and keep all they can in the face of evidence that across the whole of society infrastructure and social support has disintegrated... We fight their battles but it is a war to get them to pay any portion for the support of their society... All must come from the workers, and would, if they did not make the competition for jobs international... You have to beat everybody in the nation out of a job to have it, and if a penny more of profit can be had shipping your job abroad it is gone...Here is what I have heard: Twenty percent of our economy is in production of values, and eighty percent is service... That means twenty percent are creating enough value to carry the whole society, and it accounts for ninty percent plus of our exports... But of the profits in the country, ninty percent is from the financial sector, which is to say that interest is eating ninty percent of the produce that fuels the whole of the society... It could be better in many respects. We could have more productive jobs, import less, pay workers more, so that more of them had the wealth with which to pay taxes... It will never happen... I would say: Fine, If you don't want to pay taxes then pay fair wages that can be taxed... One thing is true. We cannot all live on interest like that town of Chinese who survived by doing each others laundry... We need production, and we need to buy more of what we produce... If the profits made on imports do not pay taxes, they should not have any market...We have to live within ourselves, and witin our means... A society has to support all its members... The rich are rich because they take and do not give...And they will take the money from government as easily as from the mouths of babes... But when it comes time for the society to have back what was taken out of them, they will want more than the rich have... I would tell them: Paying taxes to support your rights, by comparison, is no chore... It is your military fighting your war... It is your police protecting your property... It is your government making laws for your benefit; but none of the public people who works for you is paid by you... You use up the infrastructure, and when it needs work, you move on... Did you ever pay??? Was it not always communities saddled with debt to provide the roads bringing workers to your door, and providing rails and roads bringing your product to market???Just move on dot org.... Get over being U.S. citizens if you don't want to pay your share...You have pushed wages lower and jobs over seas to maximize profits, but you have reduced taxes and the tax base in the process... It is not government alone which you support with taxes, but your whole society... I would prefer you to not pay your taxes and quit demanding the rights and protections you have and enjoy...Cut yourself off from society, and cut yourself off from the support of government and see how long you last... You would not last a minute and you would be flopping like a fish on a dish... Join America... It is a rich land, but you cannot ride for free. ..Thanks...Sweenney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:45 PM
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