Sunday, November 21, 2010

Typical "Steal Their Money" Rhetoric

Robert Reich's editorial in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle was a pithy summary of the typical ultra-left justification for high/punitive taxes on the rich:
"Let's hope the president holds his ground on not extending the Bush tax cuts to the richest Americans - who don't need it, don't deserve it and won't help the economy if they get it.
This in a nutshell is the ultra liberal rationalization for why it's OK to soak the rich.

"Who don't need it." Need is a relative term. The rich don't need a tax cut so they can buy a bigger yacht, but the middle class don't need a tax cut so they can buy a bigger flat screen TV, either. If Reich's plan was to put all the extra tax revenue into a fund to help the poor, that would be one thing. But he wants the extra taxes from the rich to increase the standard of living for the middle class, and that's a different matter.

"Don't deserve it." Reich's argument here is based on statistics. He argues that most of the increase in earnings in the 2000's accrued to the top income earners rather than to the middle class. But that does not ipso facto mean the rich don't deserve it, as I've argued before. The fact that the middle class deserved to do better (if they did), does not imply that the rich deserved to do worse, or that the rich benefit at the expense of the middle class.

"Won't help the economy if they get it back." This is based on the argument that the rich don't spend as high a percentage of their incomes. Probably true, but what do the rich do with their money? Reich seems to assume they put it into under mattress where it doesn't do anyone any good. But of course that isn't what they do. They invest it. So the rich don't spend their money on consumer goods, but they do make their money available so that other people can use it. That seems like the same thing to me.

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