Facts? What facts?

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An interesting post today on the First Things web site. An extended quote:

The contrast between today's liberals and conservatives on the issue of economic inequality and fairness covers much wider ground than the question of who the rich are. Most importantly, it concerns the very purpose of a tax system, and the criteria of fairness. Liberals point to the persistence and even increase of income inequalities in recent decades as signs of a lack of fairness in American society, and hence demand that taxes on wealthier people be raised to reduce that gap. By contrast, conservatives note that (as Wiliam McGurn of the Wall Street Journal recently observed) the top 1 percent of American taxpayers already pay 40 percent of all income taxes, the highest level in forty years, while the upper 10 percent pay 71 percent of taxes. The very notion of "progressive" taxation rests on a questionable moral foundation, as liberal University of Chicago law professors Harry Kalven and Walter Blum pointed out in their now-neglected classic The Uneasy Case for Progressive Taxation, published in 1953: Why should some individuals be taxed at a higher rate than others just because they earned a greater total sum of income? (Even at a flat rate, the highest earners are already contributing more per capita to the federal treasury than others do.) But even if one were to accept some level of gradation, McGurn's figures surely suggest that it has gone too far--especially since President Bush's tax cuts removed a substantial share of Americans (the lowest-income earners) from having to pay federal taxes at all.

The most striking aspect of today's liberal position emerges when spokesmen like Obama confront the possibility that setting taxes at a lower rate might actually increase government revenues--and nonetheless hold out (as Obama did in a conversation with ABC's Charles Gibson) for a higher rate in the name of fairness. Similarly, back in 2006, Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, took some Democratic strategists to task for not addressing the issue of inequality more forthrightly, tellingly remarking, "I think it's a distraction [from the actual situation of middle-class Americans] to debate whether we have a higher standard of living now [compared to 1979] or not. We probably do. But so what? Middle-class Americans are not getting their fair share" (because the rich had gained even more over the same period of time).

The interesting point is that liberals today tend to look at the Government as having, not only the right, but the duty to punish those who do too well. This does, indeed, change the traditional understanding of the purpose of a tax system, which is not, after all, to serve as an instrument of social engineering, but rather to raise revenue for the necessary operations of the Government.

Yet there is still a more important point to be garnered from the above. Liberals today remain spectacularly undeterred by the facts. For example, there is the fact that the "top 1 percent of American taxpayers already pay 40 percent of all income taxes, the highest level in forty years, while the upper 10 percent pay 71 percent of taxes." Next, there is the fact that President Bush's tax cuts have "removed a substantial share of Americans (the lowest-income earners) from having to pay federal taxes at all." It seems two of the liberals most cherished goals have already been achieved, yet they are not satisfied.

There is also the well documented fact that lower taxes really do increase Government revenue. But that is of no consequence to today's liberals. They clearly do not want what is good for the country, they want whatever results in a people dependent on the Government. They do not want people to create their own success and exercise free judgment as to what is best for themselves and their country. They do not believe most Americans are capable of that, again contrary to the facts.

But there is, finally, one fact that we all should pay attention to. There is a well documented history that shows whenever liberals hold sway in the Government, calamity usually follows. Think of LBJ and the so-called Great Society, think of Jimmy Carter and double digit inflation rates, high unemployment and the hostages in Iran. Think of Bill Clinton and his failure to capture Osama bin Laden and success in capturing a White House intern. It should be pretty obvious that, if liberals were concerned with the facts of the situation, they would stay the heck out of our affairs.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on August 26, 2008 12:29 PM.

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