The Government Owns Your Prosperity

Liberal millionaires are literally begging to have their taxes raised.  Speaking at a rally against Florida governor Rick Scott last month, super-wealthy horror writer Stephen King asked, “As a rich person I pay 28% tax.  What I want to ask you is, why am I not paying fifty?”

Recently, a group calling itself the “Patriotic Millionaires” wrote an open letter to the White House and Congressional leaders, pleading with them to raise taxes on all income over a million dollars.  The letter declared, “Our country has been good to us.  It provided a foundation through which we could succeed.  Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have.”

President Obama cultivated this kind of thinking in his budget speech yesterday.  He made a point of name-checking prominent “raise my taxes, please” billionaire Warren Buffett.  The “Patriotic Millionaires” had better re-send their letter, because Obama claimed his “finely honed political skills” told him “almost no one believes they should be paying higher taxes.” 

However, he went on to explain that we should all be salivating at the prospect of giving him more tax money to “invest” in our future, because without the noble work of Big Government, prosperity is impossible.  The rest of the world understands this, and threatens to leave our primitive, government-deprived nation in the dust. 

“Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities,” the President lectured greedy Americans who think they should be allowed to keep their own money.  “South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science.  Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but biofuels.  And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the United States of America – the greatest nation on Earth – can’t afford any of this.”  Never mind that South Korea spends about half as much as we do per student.  Facts are acid to Obama rhetoric.

The quick response to Stephen King and the “Patriotic Millionaires” is to introduce them to the Treasury service that will gladly take 100% of their income, if they really want to pony up more taxes.  Anyone can voluntarily pay as much extra tax as their conscience demands.  Of course, these people are not really interested in providing more money to the Treasury, and the smarter ones know that our budget deficit cannot possibly be closed by imposing any rate of taxation on millionaires.  They’re after power and control – the ability of the virtuous State to compel its people to fund righteous endeavors they would not pay for voluntarily. 

The great attraction of liberalism is the sanctimony it supplies to true believers.  It lets them feel like they’re better people, by imposing their morality on lesser beings through compulsive force.  This is built right into the name of the “Patriotic Millionaires,” which implies that any wealthy person who opposes higher taxes is unpatriotic.  Making other people struggle with higher taxes is worth whatever they would have to pay their accountants to dodge the tax increases they advocate.  Of course, since a lot of these liberal millionaires have their wealth tucked into assets that would not be taxed, and report relatively little taxable income, they’re automatically protected from the burdens they demand on high income. 

The intellectual justification for all this is the idea Obama expressed in his budget speech: the State makes our prosperity possible, and therefore owns it.  You wouldn’t have anything good in your life without the government, so you are obligated to pay whatever taxes the government thinks it needs.  No one can get rich without using public resources, so the State is everyone’s silent partner.

This turns true American patriotism on its head.  Our Founding Fathers made it clear that citizens are the masters of the State, not the other way around.  The State must fulfill its duties with the resources we choose to give it.  We’re not obliged to pay anything that wasn’t legally on the books the last time we paid our taxes.  To say that any American owes more today, because he was successful yesterday, is to make us all indentured servants of a government that owns the past, present, and future.

It is true that everyone benefits from public resources.  That’s why public resources should only be things everyone benefits from.  The increasingly strained attempts of socialists like Barack Obama, to claim that every redistributionist obsession of Big Government is actually a public good that enriches everyone – because, as he said yesterday, America is made “great” by its public spending – are an offense to the core American value of limited government and maximum liberty. 

The “Patriotic Millionaires” are free to invest as much in this bloated, corrupt, insolvent government as they like.  The rest of us are selling our stock and looking for better investments.