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October 19, 2010
'Tax the Rich, Not the Workers' Makes My Blood Boil!
The bumper sticker "Tax the Rich, Not the Workers" epitomizes what is presently wrong with America. Consider what is behind these six words and see if you like it.
"Tax the Rich, Not the Workers," by the implied contrast, suggests that the rich do not work and that workers are not rich.
Consider the following super-rich people: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jack Welch (GE), Fred Smith (FedEx), Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Donna Karan and Michael Jordan. Next consider the merely rich (who make over $100,000 per year) and whose names are not common knowledge: Billy Haas (a college classmate now running for Congress), the surgeon who operated on your mother, your accountant, the owner of your local McDonald's and the chef at your favorite fancy restaurant. Who among these people does not work very hard?
In fact, the vast majority of rich and super-rich people started out with little, worked hard and long, had some luck, and went from [poor] worker to rich [worker]. THAT is the greatness of our nation. THAT is why people flock here: because this is (or at least was) the land of greatest financial opportunity. Do those who display the odious bumper sticker want to take that away by "redistributing the wealth?"
"Tax the rich, not the workers" implies that the rich should support the [poor] workers. But they already do! The bottom 40% of American wage-earners pay no taxes and the top 10%-the rich-pay over 40% of all taxes.
Do we want to keep increasing taxes on the rich? I hope not because that is how we turn rich people into poor people. I would rather that we all become rich. Raising taxes is not a way to achieve that.
Central redistribution of wealth was tried in the former Soviet Union and is still in use in EU countries. The former went bankrupt evening out the wealth. The EU is now experiencing the consequences of redistribution: forcing Great Britain to cut back on needed health services and driving Greece into a severe austerity program.
Even under extreme redistribution, the "evening out" is not even. In Communist Russia only the masses were standing in line for shoes, food and toilet paper. Communist Party members still went to their dachas on the Black Sea driven in chauffer-driven limos. You need look no further than the Obama family shopping expeditions and fancy vacations with lots of friends all paid for by...whose dollars?
When someone screams that we have a big gulf between the haves and the have-nots in our country, you can respond calmly. Yes we do, just like every other country that has ever existed: monarchy, dictatorship, capitalist, socialist or communist. The difference is that we have more ‘haves' than other countries.
How did our nation become the richest, most productive nation on earth? By "richest" I mean having the highest average standard of living. By most productive, just check out per capita productivity statistics by country.
How did we become so rich? Answer: by having the most opportunities for individuals to become rich and avoiding the seductive call of socialism. The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, is credited with the famous line that we all need to remember and the White house needs to heed. "Socialism works fine until you run out of someone else's money."
If you want the USA to have the highest number of rich people possible (and I do), then maximize the chances for everyone to become rich. Financial success is not a zero-sum game, except when it is played by Washington. We should minimize taxes not selectively increase them, maximize education (and thereby opportunities), and avoid inciting class warfare.
Deane Waldman MD MBA is the author of "Uproot U.S. Healthcare" and Adjunct Scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation in New Mexico.