Utopia! It's the holy grail of egalitarian busybodies far and wide. If only outcomes were equal, as defined by the egalitarians themselves, the world would become a place of balanced chi and seamless harmony. These societal engineers have long believed in their unique intellects and superlative abilities, which qualify them to distribute wealth and contentment to a longing world. Sadly, there's no shortage of these do-gooders.
A New York State Assemblyman envisions an increased millionaire tax. If passed, high income earners -- who already bear a disproportionate share of New York's tax burden -- will pitch in an additional 11 percent. The broken record known as Hillary Clinton still laments how "the rich" don't pay their "fair share" of taxes. Oregon, too, has joined the chorus. Earlier this year, Oregon voters passed Measures 66 and 67, raising taxes on individuals and businesses that wealth redistributors, in their profundity, have deemed excessive winners in life's lottery. Typical class envy tactics preceded that electoral outcome. Proponents argued that education, public safety, and health would suffer if the initiatives failed. The poor, naturally, would take it on the chin. The entire premise of a perceived "fair share" is ambiguous at best. Would the egalitarian consider taxation equitable if the "rich" surrender, say, 75 percent of their income to government? Hillary Clinton, Oregon voters, and New York assemblymen might think so. But anyone with a toehold on reality understands that productive people shoulder the tax burden now. The top one percent of earners pay 28 percent of federal income taxes. Additionally, over the last thirty years, the taxation on incomes above $75,000 has steadily increased while declining on incomes below that threshold.
Arguing that wealthier Americans pay little or no taxes is misleading. No, make that an outright lie. And that's not the only mischaracterization offered by the "soak the rich" crowd.
In promoting Measures 66 and 67, the Oregon Center for Public Policy claimed that "asking" Oregonians to "contribute" more in taxes would improve the state's fiscal structure. Certainly some taxation is necessary for governments to execute legitimate functions. But referring to tax increases as "asking" people to "contribute" is unadulterated spin, sufficient to strain even the strongest gastronomical constitution. And it's so typical of the egalitarian social engineer.
Charitable organizations solicit contributions, and contributors alone determine their level of participation. No such choice exists with taxation. Tax levies aren't a request on government's part, and taxes aren't contributed sans duress. Taxes are compulsory, and their collection is ultimately a matter of force.
Sadly, there's little to be achieved in arguing taxation with egalitarians. Redistributionists are so devoted to equalizing all incomes and imposing their Marxist vision on society that debate has become futile. Equally futile are the protests of the productive, whose incomes are sacrificed upon the perverse altar of egalitarianism. The producers' right to their production will never match the needs of the oppressed when it comes to conjuring empathy. Therefore, the "rich" are safely marginalized, demonized, and dismissed.
What would happen if busybodies like Hillary Clinton, New York legislators, and Oregon voters fulfilled their collectivist dreams? If there were no private wealth, the economy would become void of capital investment. Innovation and production would decelerate, with a corresponding decline in employment and living standards. The resulting misery would create greater demand on government, which puts the do-gooders in position to distribute the remaining wealth as they so determine. They will achieve their socialist dreams, but only for a season.
Such idealism has no foundation upon which to build. Since government produces little, and that which is produced is a case study in inefficiency, the egalitarian society is doomed to failure. Only the most influential busybodies will benefit from their societal and economic transformation. The rank-and-file do-gooder will be destined to impoverished servitude alongside their once-wealthy neighbors, whose property they helped confiscate.
So goes the nation without private wealth. Utopia? I think not.
Anthony W. Hager has authored more than two hundred published articles for various newspapers, periodicals, and websites. He can be reached through his website, www.therightslant.com.