WHAT REALLY BOTHERS LIBERALS ABOUT TAXES
June 12, 2004
After spending more than two decades publicly and privately debating liberals regarding the subject of taxation, one thing has become increasingly clear to me: Most liberals are socialists.
Liberals typically say that what bothers them most about our system of taxation is that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes, or that the wealthy don’t shoulder their fair share of the tax burden. If you dig a little deeper, however, you will discover that is not what bothers them at all. It’s something much worse.
Once you get past a liberal’s, “it’s just a tax cut for the rich” objection to every tax cutting measure ever proposed, some very interesting things become apparent. First, is this: To a liberal, tax policy should be fair to the poor, but absolutely must not be fair to the rich.
In fact, to liberals, wealthy Americans have absolutely no right to insist that the tax system treat them fairly. After all, they are rich and can look out for themselves. They can afford to pay more, therefore, they should.
This bias against successful people is evidenced by the consistency with which liberals attempt to stir up the pot of class envy at every turn. If a tax cutting bill or measure, for example, does nothing but give every taxpayer in every bracket, regardless of income, a 10 percent tax cut, to a liberal that tax cut is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy.
Why? Because mathematically the rich guy’s 10 percent tax cut is bigger than the poor guys 10 percent tax cut. The amount the rich guy saves is more than the amount the poor guy saves.
It makes no difference to those on the political left, that when the dust settles, the rich guy still pays far more in taxes than the poor guy, or that the poor guy is a larger consumer of government services than the rich guy. None of that is even relevant to the typical liberal. Why? Because once again, that’s not what really bothers them.
Here’s what really bothers them: When the rich guy has paid all of his taxes and the check has cleared the bank, he still has more money left than the poor guy. That’s it. That’s what it’s all about. No matter how much the rich guy pays in taxes, it will never be enough, because after he has paid, he still has more money than the poor guy.
It’s not about how much the rich guys pays in taxes, or doesn’t pay for that matter. It’s about how much he has left over afterwards. It’s about making sure that everyone has an equal share of the wealth, regardless of how much talent or creativity they possess or employ; and regardless of how much they actually produce.
To the typical liberal, the tax system is merely a tool whereby government can redistribute the wealth in a manner he or she believes to be more equitable than the distribution that real life has meted; a tool for eliminating all of life’s little inequities; or to the more radical among their ranks, the weapon by which they can strike a blow for all the little guys, who have been ripped off by the lords and masters of society.
The tax system is a tool for the promotion of socialism. Let me give you a real life example of how they think:
In 2000, I sponsored a ballot measure that would have made federal income taxes fully deductible on Oregon’s state income tax returns. At the time the measure appeared on the ballot, Oregon had a legislatively imposed $3,000 cap on how much federal income tax a taxpayer could deduct on his state return. This meant, of course, that the “working poor” could deduct all of their federal taxes on their state tax returns, but those paying more than $3,000 in federal taxes were double taxed by the state of Oregon.
Simply stated, my proposal would have given to all taxpayers the same benefit the working poor already enjoyed. It would have ended the double taxation of income for every Oregon taxpayer regardless of his or her income bracket. What could be fairer? Nevertheless, you should have heard the hue and cry that went out across the land, when my measure was publicly announced. You would have thought I was proposing that we end taxes for the wealthy and make only poor people pay taxes.
“Shameless tax cut for the wealthy. Sizemore would destroy the schools and put the poor and elderly out into the streets, just so he can give a tax cut to his rich friends.” That’s the kind of rhetoric to which we were subjected day after day for several months.
During one of the many debates that were staged during the course of the campaign, I explained to one decidedly liberal audience, which had gathered in the sanctuary of one of the more liberal churches, that as a society, we have a moral obligation to ensure that our tax system is fair to everyone, including the middle class and the more prosperous among us. That statement seemed rather common sensical and even moral to me.
My remarks, however, brought such looks of venom and utter disgust from the liberal audience, that I felt for a moment like the martyr Stephen before he was stoned. You could literally feel the anger and unrighteous indignation in the room. The very suggestion that taxes ought to be fair for those in the upper income brackets outraged them.
I am persuaded that the progressive income tax is something of a religious doctrine to the political left. They seem to believe that they have a moral right, even an obligation, to play Robin Hood; to rob the rich and give to the poor. Of course, they define the rich as anyone with a full time job.
Ayn Rand was right about that, you know. Notwithstanding all the movies that make him a hero, the Robin Hood she described in her classic novel, Atlas Shrugged, was nothing more than a self-righteous thief. He took what didn’t belong to him, and justified doing so simply because he thought someone else needed it more. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor has become official public policy in America.
It is quite possible that on the issue of tax fairness we conservatives have already lost the battle for the minds of the American people. Try this experiment on 10 everyday people, and you will see what I mean.
Say to them, “Wouldn’t you agree that our system of taxation in America is based upon the principle that we all pay taxes based upon our incomes, and that the money collected from the tax system is then spent by the government to provide programs that help the less fortunate among us. Is it not fair to describe the American system of taxation as one in which we all pay taxes to the government according to our ability, and then the government distributes the money out to our fellow Americans according to their individual needs?”
I have performed this little test several times. I usually conclude with one more question, stated something like this: A famous person once described such a tax system this way. He said, “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” Do you agree with that statement? They usually say, “Yes.” Do you know who made it? They usually say, “No.”
Very few Americans seem to be aware that the author of that statement was the communist philosopher, Karl Marx, or that a highly progressive income tax system is a foundational stone of communist doctrine.
Robbing the rich by means of a progressive tax system and giving to the poor via welfare and other social programs has become the accepted way of life in America. Why should a tax system have to be fair to the poor when it is okay to rob them outright, as long as it is for a good cause?
Telling a liberal that the top one percent of the taxpayers in America pay 30 percent of the total taxes is a total waste of breath. They don’t care. The fact is irrelevant. If, after they have paid their taxes, the rich still have more money than the poor, they obviously aren’t paying enough.
Yes, most liberals are socialists. No question about it. Their goal is to redistribute the wealth by means of government coercion. To me that fact is settled. Our real dilemma is this: Much of the American public has bought their doctrine and are just as much socialists at heart as they are.
This has always been a very slippery slope, you know. Once a society allows its government to levy taxes to finance even one worthwhile, charitable cause, the floodgates begin to open. From that point on, the question of socialism is merely a matter of degree.
© 2004 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who
works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide
taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor
in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen,
and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.
"I am persuaded that the progressive income tax is something of a religious doctrine to the political left. They seem to believe that they have a moral right, even an obligation, to play Robin Hood; to rob the rich and give to the poor. Of course, they define the rich as anyone with a full time job."