Just how utterly reliant on sheer power is President Obama can be appreciated from the fact that no one in his administration bothers to defend his policy of confiscating people’s resources. Apart from calling upon the phony support of a few super rich folks like Warren Buffet -- who, I understand, is by no means offering his own wealth up for use by Mr. Obama (instead engaging in customary dodging and weaving, not paying up) -- no argument has been put forth by the administration for the progressive tax policy it relies upon. Merely declaring that the very wealthy “may be asked” to contribute a higher percentage of their belongings isn’t an argument, merely a dishonest dogma. Why, one may ask! What principle supports this policy of public finance? Why must those with exceptional talent, skill, luck, etc. be punished for possessing these?
Sure, such very rich folks may not need their resources as badly as do poorer folks but why is that a justification for the confiscatory policy? It simply is not. Matters concerning who needs what, how much, etc., just have no generalized answer. “Fair share” is a made up idea, a rationalization, based on nothing more than the wish to take, take, and take some more. Such a wish has no standing in morality or public finance!
If the country were some kind of club or organization that came together voluntarily, with the provision that dues will be progressive, the case would be different. But just being born into a society with greater advantages and resources than others possess doesn’t by any means serve as a valid reason to be subjected to confiscation. Consent would be needed for that, otherwise what we have is nothing different from highway robbery.
Some gullible folks have compared Obama’s philosophy of public finance to Robin Hoodism but that’s entirely misguided. What Robin Hood did was to take funds back from those who taxed the population! Robin Hood correctly regarded taxes as unjustified takings, as robbery!
Some of us are luckier than others; some of us work harder and earn more than others; indeed, the citizens of a free country are a highly varied lot in many respects, including how much they are worth economically! No one is justified in becoming an equalizer unless consent has been given to take part in such a scheme. (Imagine a marathon race in which at every new position the participants were re-positioned in line with some notion of fairness! Oh, some have imagined that already, such as George Orwell in his classic tale, “Animal Farm,” and Kurt Vonnegut in his short story titled “Harrison Bergeron.” The practice of handicapping has nothing to do with fairness but with keeping the race interesting for spectators.)
I do not like to ascribe motives to people when they embark upon various objectionable actions or the advocacy of mendacious policies. Who know what lies in the hearts of such men and women -- envy, resentment, naive idealism, whatever! I do know that the progressive taxation system, even taxation itself, is a vicious way to support policies and projects that one supports in societies. (We can all come up with innumerable great ideas that maybe others should also embrace but that’s no justification for robbing others of what belongs to them so as to fund those projects or of enslaving them to labor for these!)
I suppose calling the progressive tax policy “progressive” suffices for some people to justify and implement it, to impose it on others who reject it; but it will not wash. In the end it all amounts to sheer, raw power wielding, comparable to what a lynch mob or bandit does.
February 5, 2013
We are delighted to present Lessons in Freedom, essays by Dr. Tibor Machan, for your pleasure.
Dr. Machan holds the R. C. Hoiles Chair in Business Ethics & Free Enterprise at Chapman University's Argyros School of B&E.