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September 23, 2011
Elizabeth Warren: Eloquent Tunnel Vision
Elizabeth Warren made quite a splash with her recent comments (see article by Lucy Madison from CBS News) in which she laid out a case why wealthy people should be paying more taxes. As usual, liberal politicians like to play up the much-maligned "fairness" issue and ignore practical reality. I'll get to that, but first let's look at her statement.
First, make no mistake: Warren is incorrect in almost everything she says: if not directly, then indirectly by omission. By one definition of a lie -- something intended or serving to convey a false impression -- her statements qualify as such. She may not intend to mislead, but as indicated earlier, she doesn't understand the full picture and sees only what she wants to see. My comments are in italics regarding her statement in defense of proposals to make the rich pay higher taxes:
"But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; (the wealthy paid a much bigger share of those roads than the hired people) you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; (yes, let's not forget that the wealthy people did, in fact, give them jobs and, again, the wealthy paid for more of the educational costs than the "us" Warren refers to, even though a fair number of them sent their kids to private schools), you were safe (as were the "rest of us") in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for (she needs to understand who actually pays for what she attributes to "the rest of us"). You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did (again, the wealthy pay most of what she gives the "rest of us" credit for)."
The wealthy are a subset of the rest of us - a huge financial subset. My view is that the "rest of us" owe the rich equally as much gratitude for all that she describes. It appears Warren will never be satisfied until every ounce is drained and nothing is left.
She argues that the charges of class warfare from Republicans are unfounded; yet look at her own words. Repeatedly she says "the rest of us," as though we, the workers, are in an opposite camp from the wealthy. That makes as much sense as saying "No offense, but you're a jerk." Personally, I do business with wealthy people and people on modest incomes. I say hi to anyone on the street I meet without questioning whether they are wealthy or not, and everyone returns the salutation. I treat them all with the respect they deserve as occupants of this planet, regardless of who I think they might be. As one of "the rest of us," I am extremely irritated by Warren's segregationist attitude, and deeply offended that she shows little appreciation for the wealthy people in this country who provide the capital that makes everything work.
Frankly, Ms. Warren, class warfare is written all over your declaration. It is telling and unfortunate you don't recognize it.
Now, back to fairness. Fairness is a matter of viewpoint and scale, of which Warren's understanding is limited. We don't need to rehash the issue, as it is a subject that has been worked to death with no consensus. However, let me just say this: in political debate with liberals, fairness is looked in the context of amount received with no regard as to the reason why. For example, we can argue as to whether the rich should pay more taxes, but to say they are not paying their fair share is ridiculous. (By the way, what exactly is their fair share if not the huge amount of taxes they currently pay?)
Another tactic Warren employs is the "switch the debate" strategy. Even if the rich were to pay more taxes, it doesn't amount to a needle in a haystack in terms of dollars received. Warren is standing with Nero while he plays his fiddle crying "The whole place is on fire! Nero, you fool, get a bucket of water!"
And, one more thing ignored by Warren: there is no guarantee - in fact, there is evidence to the contrary - that raising taxes on the rich would actually increase federal revenue. Obama's famous exchange (see American Thinker article by Allan J. Favish between ABC's Charles Gibson and Obama) is frequently cited by many of us:
GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
Fairness, not results, means everything, even if that means less for everyone. This thinking is selfish, myopic and self-defeating, and does nothing to increase productivity or the standard of living for all of us, including those Warren is attempting to serve.
"Now look, you built (and paid for by hiring lots of people) a factory (risk) and it turned into something terrific (for lots of people and our economy), or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along." True enough, but that has already been done. The "social contract" has been defined all along, and has been admirably adhered to. Warren wants to change the definition for the sake of her campaign theme.
We all know we need to cut spending. That's undeniable. Initiating spending cuts and tax increases at the same time is dangerous. Short term, the economy will take a small hit with the spending cuts. If we add the tax increases, the fragile economy may go over the edge. And who would be hurt the most? Not the wealthy -- just the "rest of us."
Dangerous. But, according to Warren, it would be fair.
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