Spreading The Wealth: What’s The Problem?

That is the question that The New Republic asks, and attempts to answer. After six paragraphs of leadup and discussing John McCain, the writers finally get to their defense of spreading the wealth

But let’s get back to this apparently controverisal phrase–which, I gather, is going to remain prominent in McCain’s campaign rhetoric over the next few days. What, exactly, is so awful about “spreading the wealth“?

Government performs certain essential functions, from education to national defense. It must raise money to do that. Charging everybody the same tax rate might sound simple. But it would actually impose a much harsher burden on the poor, since they end up spending much–if not all–of their incomes on the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter. As one famous 18th century philosopher argued,

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expen[s]e, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Another rationale for progressive taxation is the fact that random chance has profound effects on everybody’s financial well-being. (A guy named John Rawls once wrote a thing or two about this.) Mandating economic equality–i.e., carrying out a truly socialist agenda–would obviously be wrong. But there are compelling moral and economic arguments for asking the fortunate to pay a little more in taxes, in order to blunt the influence of chance on people’s lives.

That’s it. That’s what they got. The famous 18th century philosopher is Adam Smith, a name that probably a good chunk of people may have heard, but, with todays education, do not know what he stood for.

Anyhow, government has certain functions, and some people are luckier then others, so, we need to redistrubute success. That is their argument, which, to be honest, is more then any other liberal/progressive outlet has attempted. Most of them have focused on Joe the Plumber, as we all know.

Yes, government has certain functions, but, one of them, per the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is not to play Robin Hood. It is not there to punish success. Yes, Article 1, Section 8 gives Congress the power to lay taxes, but, nowhere does the Constitution suggest that people who work hard, do well, and succeed should have to pay a disproportionate portion of the fruits of their labor to people who sit on their buts watching TV most of the day.

Should we help our fellow citizens? Sure. Works a whole lot better when it is handled by State government, local government, and local organizations, such as churches. But we should not help at the expense of others, performed at the barrel of a jail cell.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove

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