Friday, September 23, 2011

Classless Warfare

Time to piss off my Conservative friends…
Which is sort of funny in itself, given that as soon as I refer to one of them as Conservative, they quickly correct me. ‘Oh I’m a fiscal conservative but I am Libertarian on social issues and a Vegetarian when faced with a steak from a mad cow…’
Whatever. I’m a Liberal. Bash away at such decisiveness if you must.
Anyway, my latest amusement has come from the Conservative’s latest sound bite that Obama’s proposal to raise the tax rate on the wealthy in order to help address the deficit, referring to it as “class warfare”.
Nice imagery. When I hear that phrase I picture a bunch of unwashed serfs storming a castle with pitchforks, torches and nooses screaming for the head of some gout-stricken Lord. A rise of the poor majority demanding blood from the rich minority. Hey, they’re using the word ‘warfare’, so don’t blame me if it evokes violent images. They choose their words carefully, and that is apparently the image they are trying to portray - that this is WAR.
Actually, no. It isn’t. It is an attempt at fairness. It is the president saying those that have the capability to give more should. We are not in a war, but we are, by everyone’s assessment, in a crisis. A fiscal crisis that has manifested itself in massive deficits from previous spending. Spending that included, yes, a stimulus package championed by Obama, but also two wars championed by Bush. The current situation is one of policies over the past decade. Bush started two wars and gave us (and decidedly, the rich) two tax cuts. And, that, pardon me my Conservitarianeral friends, is fiscal irresponsibilty - raising your expenditures dramatically while decreasing your income. It is a recipe for bankruptcy.
And here we are in 2011 awash in red ink.
So Obama says to raise the tax rate on the rich to be the same rate as the middle class. Sounds fair to me. But of course, I’m a Liberal, and as such I am naïve, right? I cannot possibly understand such complexities as managing budgets and fair application of fiscal policy.
Have I mentioned that I also have an MBA?
Anyway, this is not about me. It is about the rich paying their fair share. Oh but hold the presses - there aren’t any “Rich People” people in this country. The Conservatives now have a new phrase for them. They are “Job Creators.” Well okay, to an extent I imagine there is a scintilla of truth in there. Rich people do tend to have staff. Someone has to drive them around, cook their meals, clean their six mansions, nanny their kids.
And keep the serfs from storming the castle.
But they are not job-producing self-contained factories of middle-class prosperity. Why? Well, if these ‘Job Creators’ have benefitted so much from tax cuts in the past decade, why aren’t they singlehandedly pumping life into this moribund economy by employing all these people standing in lines looking for work? Their discretionary income has dramatically increased in the past decade while other income group’s has fallen. Go hire another chauffeur, for crying out loud!
Now, I can hear the blowback already - many rich people got rich by starting businesses, and many of them do employ people - the ubiquitous 'small businessman' moniker. Okay fine. I buy that. And in response I offer two things: One, Obama has cut taxes to small businesses, and two, you have to separate the income of the business from the income of the person running the business. What Obama is targeting is the personal income of people making more than $250k a year, not the income of the business itself.

So, in light of that reality, explain how a higher tax rate on Bill Gates's personal income is going to translate to more of a tax burden to Microsoft. You can't. Because it does not exist. Remember that when Conservatives bemoam taxing 'Job Creators' - their businesses are untouched by this proposal. So that covers the concerns of the true entrepreneurs out there - the Bill Gates & Warren Buffetts of the world who came from nothing and crazily prospered through hard work and innovation.

So back to the other category of rich people. Those that have perhaps inherited their wealth, maybe sports athletes who signed outlandish salaries, whatever. People that, hey, great for them, had wealth handed to them. Herein lies the fallacy of the Conservative argument. The clothes have no emperor. These rich people do not spur the economy. There is no trickle down. Money has flowed upwards, not down. So it is time to call them what they are - not the engines of the economy, but rather, selfish benefactors of recent fiscal policy. And for them to pay more in taxes is not any kind of warfare. I would, instead, use an entirely different term for the president’s request for more money from them:

Country first, right? Or have Conservatives discarded that phrase since it didn’t get McCain & Palin elected in 2008? It is hard for us Liberals to keep track of what their phrase du jour is anymore.

No wonder they think we're confused.

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