Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Robin Hood Politicians: Should We Tax the Rich? Does it Enable the Poor?

Recently a close friend and reader, Jacob, wrote me the following:
When politicians, especially Republicans, try to justify reducing taxes on the rich, you see them twisting to try to show some benefit to society by adopting the policy. Trickle down economics and loss of jobs are the common defenses for the policy.
I think these arguments do not realize what they are implying. The hidden premise is that if there were no negative consequences to the middle class, then we should tax the rich indiscriminately.
Why not argue that it is immoral to take exorbitant amounts of money from people, rich or poor? Why not argue that we should not allow the government to be tyrannical? This is a hard sell in a debate, but I wish the politicians would have some courage to stand up for fairness and not bow to political expediency. It is within everyone's self interest to secure the liberty of all, yes even the rich. 
But if people are unable to take this higher path of dispassioned policy approval, then let them use an enlightened and long term self interest, where freedom above all must be secured, lest in the power grabs that are given to the government, the government grabs YOU.
I completely agree: The argument that the government should not be tyrannical is of utmost importance. And yet that's a dangerous message for a government prone to tyranny. You don't think our government is prone to tyranny? The Patriot Act stands as one example of many.
The problem is that we have created not just a selfish society but The Entitlement Generation. They are the latest group of misfits: An entire generation raised to believe they deserve everything without having to work for it, with few exceptions. Exhibit A: Bernie Sanders.
There's a quote misattributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler. However, even Ronald Reagan quoted it, and it's pertinent, so I'll share it here:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy." (1)
Politicians have learned two things, which are deadly to the public. First, we have a short attention span. We quickly forget any wrongs they've done us. And second, we will vote from selfish reasons. The poor are more than happy to vote for more benefits and the people holding the money are more apt to vote for people who let them keep their money.
Even those of us who are charitable have our own motives: We want to help others with your money because it makes us feel better. Yes, it does. We might justify it by saying that it's not fair that you get to keep what you've earned, but the reason we are justifying it is that we feel better when we know people aren't starving in the gutter.
Speaking from a preference for the Republican party, and as a former campaign consultant and manager, I must admit that the Republican party has truly become the party of Big Business. And Big Business can be sociopathic if it's allowed to be. Who can stop it? Only the people at the head. I read a great article arguing this, and I'll quote from it here: 
"The people who are running the corporation are like people riding up in the head of a giant robot stomping across the Earth. They control the robot’s arms and legs, so they can pursue the actions which make the most sense from the point of view of “business,” without ever getting their hands dirty... the folks in the executive suite can use the robot to load themselves up with riches. And then when the consequences of their actions finally catch up and the robot is tottering, they just put on their (golden) parachutes and leap off. The robot lumbers off and eventually crashes to the ground. There are no repercussions to any of the decision-makers." (2)
This is why you can't believe everything you hear from their talking heads, and you certainly can't expect them to act in the interest of the public unless they are personally driven by an internal ethics code. It's generally not in a company's best interest to be, as George Bush Sr. hoped, "A thousand points of light" because giving money to the poor brings little in return except public goodwill and goodwill is hard to valuate, and usually can be obtained through other avenues.
Another friend told me, in all seriousness, that Jesus would be Republican because He believed in self sufficiency. But we often forget that the Bible preaches wise charity. The Bible doesn't say we are to give money indiscriminately to the poor. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the reader is instructed "... if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." And yet Jesus gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan. We can't simply let people starve because they're not working to our standards. Some people are putting in 40 hour work weeks at minimum wage and if they didn't have government assistance, their families wouldn't survive.
What is the solution then?

We are a nation sickened by both parties. We no longer have Reagan Republicans at the helm. In my opinion, ideally we would have little government interference with business, and would only offer assistance to the truly needy. Government should exist to supplement what the private sector cannot or does not provide.

If we cannot be Constitutionalists, we might look to the Libertarians. However, Rand Paul's stunningly poor showing proves that the country is not ready for Libertarian philosophy yet. Why is that? Because we are not educating the American public to think for themselves. Instead, we are filling their heads with platitudes and soundbites designed to reach into their hearts and pull heartstrings, forcing them to dance to someone else's tune. 
If the schools, which are funded by the government, will not teach our children and our citizens how to think, then it is up to us to find a way to do so. Now: Before it's too late.