Monday, October 27, 2008

What a dumb argument!

I don't understand how this whole "redistribution of wealth" hokey has caught on with conservatives lately. While it does make sense on a "anything to the left of my far-right view is radical communism" level, as well as fitting the whole Hail-Mary desperation mode of today's GOP, as an argument it's ridiculous.

Of course we have redistribution of wealth in this country; without it, we wouldn't even have a functioning society. By definition, taxation is taking money from one source and dedicating it to another. It's why we have roads, street lights, parks, schools, libraries, Medicare and Social Security. And as much as many Republicans and libertarians hate all of those things, I have yet to come across anyone clamoring to pave their own roads or dig their own drainage ditches. Apparently, redistribution of wealth is good enough for some things.

But the real sore point lies with (sneer alert) "social programs." How dare we spend money assisting those with nerve to ask for help? No one needs help, except maybe for directions to bootstrap class!

The entire economic premise of the Republican Party is that money is the indisputable sign of success. This leads to the following conclusions:

1) If you work hard, you will make a lot of money.
2) If you have a lot of money, it's because you worked hard.
3) If you don't have a lot of money, it's because you are lazy.
4) Low-wage jobs are that way for a reason, and anyone who works them deserves what they get if they don't have the drive/means/connections/luck to find a better job.

See, in a Republican world, someone who busts their ass for 60 hours a week at Burger King possesses less virtue than someone who spends the same amount of time speculating on the stock market. Call it a stigma tax. Inheritances apparently don't factor in either, except insofar as those poor people have to pay the dreadful Death Tax just for the crime of being born in a worthy bloodline (at least among those 2 percent of Americans who even have to consider it).

This mind-set allows them to get away with the some of the most heartless economic policy I've ever heard. They want tax cuts for the richest Americans and corporations because, in their view, economic relief is not about lifting millions of hurting middle-class Americans out of debt and financial uncertainty that ultimately reverberates into all tax brackets - instead, tax cuts are seen as a reward for achieving a high score. The super-rich need these cuts, we're told, so that these benevolent altruists can hire more workers and thus let their bounty trickle down. See? They're just trying to help! Why are you trying to punish success? What poor person ever gave you a job?

Well, in the past three decades we've seen just how well that works. Which is to say, it doesn't. Maybe giving rich people even more money to put away for a distant rainy day with no mandate to trickle it down (and every loophole possible to avoid paying income taxes) isn't the best recipe for economic success. Maybe "redistributing" that money to those most likely to need and spend it will jump-start the economy better. Not bogus "stimulus" packages, either, but lasting reductions in both income and payroll taxes that keep the middle class afloat financially. Historically, the U.S. has been healthiest economically under a progressive tax system - including the rich. The growing divide between rich and poor begun through Reaganomics is literally killing our country. It's unsustainable.

Anyway, isn't the GOP tax platform also redistribution of wealth? Those Bush tax cuts had to come from somewhere, and it wasn't Exxon-Mobil! Though I suppose with the record deficits we're now facing, the notion of "wealth" is a bit looser than it used to be. So it's more like, "distribution of debt." And with the socialistic takeover of the big banks by Big Government, that's one thing the GOP is only too happy to distribute.

This whole "redistribution" allegation is something the Republicans should really reconsider. I say we give them eight years or so to mull it over.


Momofunk said...

Hey, stop stealing my thoughts!! :)

It's funny - I was thinking about this yesterday and hadn't heard/read anyone really calling them on their "Spreading the wealth = socialism" BS and wrote a post about it, and you did the same thing the same night. Maybe someone out there with a big public microphone (i.e., TV pundits) will have the same idea and do the same thing today!

Michael said...

How about eight times eight years? Maybe in a couple of generations wandering in the wilderness they will finally trip over wisdom. Or maybe at least some common sense.

Jack said...

Enjoyed the read.

Tom said...

Ian, once again you fail at understanding economics.

Stick to the lame jokes and horribly executed photoshops.

Ian McGibboney said...

Wow, Tom, that was hard-hitting. Such brilliant rebuttals on the economy. Try not to hurt yourself slicing that backwards "B" on your cheek, MMMK?