This past weekend, I had a conversation about extending the Bush tax cuts with a proud member of New York City’s Left.
I was called the usual names—unfair and ally of the rich—because I voiced that taxes shouldn’t be raised on anyone during times of economic distress. He retorted that “the rich” could stand to lose a few bucks.
That sort of thinking turns my stomach, to tell you the truth. Not only because it reminds me of our Redistributionist-in-Chief’s October 2008 unscripted reply to Joe Wurzelbacher that, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” But because it’s profoundly un-American.
In Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater wrote that “government has a right to claim an equal percentage of each man’s wealth, and no more … The idea that a man who makes $100,000 a year should be forced to contribute ninety per cent of his income to the cost of government, while the man who makes $10,000 is made to pay twenty per cent is repugnant to my notions of justice. I do not believe in punishing success.” Goldwater added, “The graduated tax is a confiscatory tax. Its effect, and to a large extent its aim, is to bring down all men to a common level.”
In Liberty and Tyranny, Mark Levin recalls a fantastic quote by Ronald Reagan: “Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposed classes—one rich, one poor—both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in America accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare?”
Some on the left love to talk about the horrors of economic injustice and economic inequality in America, as well as the evils of capitalism. Many leftists envision an America in which the gap between those at the top and bottom of the income scale is diminished via wealth redistribution. In doing so, they reject the essence of American exceptionalism, the unique beauty of a nation built on freedom, industriousness, and ambition. They jeopardize the ability of Americans, regardless of gender, race, and/or upbringing, to reach for the stars and seize the rewards. They cloak their desire to punish success in clever discourse on the need for “equality.”
On the notion of “equality” sought by advocates of the graduated tax, I once again defer to Goldwater: “Their aim is an egalitarian society—an objective that does violence both to the charter of the Republic and the laws of Nature. We are all equal in the eyes of God but we are equal in no other respect. Artificial devices for enforcing equality among unequal men must be rejected if we would restore that charter and honor those laws.”
America should be a paragon of equal opportunity, not a place where the hefty hand of government robs the fruits of one person’s labor to give to another.
When it comes to economic injustice, why is it that the Left is blind to the injustice of about 47% of Americans not paying federal income taxes for 2009, as was projected in April by the Tax Policy Center? Why do leftists not consider it unjust that in 2007, the top 1% of taxpayers paid over 40% of federal income taxes, a greater share than that paid by the bottom 95% of taxpayers combined?
Perhaps because it’s not really about justice at all. It’s about condoning theft in the name of socialist-style “equality;” an equality that would disincentivize workers, undermine prosperity, and—to borrow a phrase from Barack Obama—lead to “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
The far-left New York City man who accused me of being an “ally of the rich” closed with this: Doesn’t it drive you nuts to know that Rush Limbaugh is out there keeping millions he doesn’t need?
I guess that’s the difference between the Left and the Right’s understanding of justice. To me, justice doesn’t mean snatching Limbaugh’s money to pay my rent, it means that he gets to keep the same percentage of his hard-earned cash that I do.
In other words, the Left’s definition of economic justice is decidedly unjust.
The debate over whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts for all has been the latest hot topic. But the bigger issue, one we must press our elected representatives to address, is that of bringing true justice to the American tax system.
Because what’s at stake is preserving what the far-left is dead set on “fundamentally transforming,” that which makes America downright extraordinary: the integrity of the American dream.