The "tax cuts for the rich" debate needs a new focus. We are missing the point of the tax debate. It is not about taxation in a recession. The wealthy will be comparatively well-off regardless of the economic environment. It is not about the wealthy's ability to promote job creation. Our government does not care about private-sector growth when it considers government employment an acceptable (and even more valuable) alternative. And it's certainly not that Republicans are in love with the rich, since households that vote Democrat tend to have higher incomes than those that vote Republican.
The point of the tax debate must be the principle that every man -- rich, middle-class, or lower-class -- has the right to keep as much as possible of what he has honestly earned. It is this foundation of freedom and property rights that is being ignored in the increasingly complicated political debate over an elusive definition of how to promote "growth" for the country. Regardless, whether a man earns only a few dollars (like most of us) or millions of dollars (like President Obama), he has the right to everything that is his.
In an effort to create fairness, our government has created a system of penalizing the few for the sake of the many. Yet we would never stand for such blatant discrimination in other arenas.
McDonald's does not have separate menus for rich, middle-class, and lower-class customers. Teachers do not penalize top students because they are naturally brighter or do extra homework.
In sports, perhaps the ultimate bastion of fairness in America, such discrimination would be absurd. Baskets scored by the tallest NBA players are worth the same as the shortest, despite being nearly two feet closer to the ten-foot high hoop. A touchdown by a speedy wide receiver is worth the same six points as one by a 350-pound lineman who picks up a fumble and rumbles to the end zone. The fastest tennis server has to hit the same box as the slowest server, and the greatest bowler on the planet still has to knock down the same ten pins as the half-drunk guy in the Saturday night beer league.
Despite the natural inequalities that exist in the real world, everything functions more smoothly and more fairly if everyone abides by the same rules and is judged on the same merits. Separating people into tax groups exaggerates inequality. While "class warfare" has become the preeminent term for this conflict, I prefer "financial bigotry" due to the unequal treatment bestowed upon a specific social group.
By our government's logic, not only should rich people pay more in taxes, but men should have higher tax rates than women; 50-year-olds should pay more than 20-year-olds; tall people should pay more than short people; good-looking people should pay more than unattractive people; and Asians should pay more taxes than any other race. This is because each of the former in this list tends to earn more than the latter. However, if such distinctions were listed on our 1040 forms, a warranted uproar would certainly follow. Yet this is exactly the kind of categorizing we do by separating the wealthy from everyone else.
Just because someone has more does not mean the government is entitled to a larger portion of it.
Though countless economists have proven that tax revenues increase when rates are lowered, the left continues to live in ignorance, and the right need no longer speak to the brick wall of economic illiteracy that is the left's ideology. Rather, we need to emphasize how low taxation should be the cause for reducing government spending. If we don't have the revenue, we shouldn't have the program. The left believes the opposite: we need a government program, so we must find tax revenue. This ignores the premise that income belongs to the citizen first, and financial property rights for individuals must be protected before any government expansion is ever discussed.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government."
Our leftist government is showing neither wisdom nor frugality when it insists on taking from its citizens that which never belonged to it in the first place.
And our conservative legislators are not articulating the fundamentals of financial freedom clearly enough.
We need to stop avoiding the real tax discussion by attempting to defend economic principles the left inherently disregards. Inequality of taxation need not be an argument over growth or revenues or deficits. It is an argument that lies in our founding principles: placing certain requirements on a particular category of people and not on others is legally and morally wrong, and every man deserves to keep what he has earned.