Taxes: Fairness and Freedom
That because an election was lost I’m required to give up more of my earnings so the same politicians can buy more votes. It’s nonsensical and morally wrong. There are no longer any private property rights…And the Republicans are happy to go along with it… sad…
Fairness is a value judgment. In the fight over taxing the rich, those with good values are losing the judgment. They are losing because they have failed to name, and defend, the moral right which ought to define fairness toward all taxpayers: the right to own and to keep the wealth you create.
Recent polls suggest that most Americans agree with Obama that the rich should be taxed more than they are. No wonder. When an impassioned moral argument on one side — even the wrong side — is met with tepid utilitarian wish-wash on the other, it should not amaze us when the wrong side wins. Wealthy Americans already pay a vastly disproportionate share of taxes.
But fairness is not about what works. Fairness is about what’s right. By implying that the president’s fairness premise is correct and that it is merely Obama’s proposed means which are mistaken, the Republicans have given up the fight. Someone needs to take it back. Someone needs to make clear that Obama’s moral premises, not his microeconomic theory, are what make his fairness argument wrong.
The fairness claim necessarily denies that people have the presumptive moral right to own the money they earn. It necessarily implies that if you do earn a lot of money, that fact alone — the mere fact that you are wealthy — makes you a legitimate target of government-authorized confiscation. It necessarily implies that wealth is suspect — that those who are wealthy owe that wealth, in large measure, to the rest of the country; that, at the discretion of the country, they may be allowed to keep and use it so long as that “works” for society, but that if and when society decides that it needs that wealth to accomplish goals which require more money — to implement a national health care plan, or shrink the deficit, or fund entitlement programs to which the nation has become accustomed — then society may lay claim to as much of that wealth as it needs to accomplish those goals, and those who earned the wealth will then owe that money to the nation.
Obama’s fairness argument upends the core presumption of a free economy — that people are entitled to the wealth they earn by their labor — in favor of a presumption that wealth, however earned, is a collective resource which may be redistributed at the pleasure of a democratic majority.