Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An examination of conservative thought process

Dan Mitchell, a top conservative fiscal expert, likes to use a beer tab explanation of why conservatives want to tax the poor and let the rich off scott free.  I find his explanation very misleading, to the point of fraud, but it is helpful in revealing his thought process.   (You can find his incredibly poorly thought out analogy here.)

A quick summary: ten men go to a bar, they have a $100 bar tab, and they split it up in a way similar to the current tax bill.   They get a discount 'because they are such good customers'.  Then they argue about how the discount was divided.  Eventually they beat up the rich guy, who paid over 60% of the original bill because he got about 50% of the discount.  Next time they go the bar, the rich guy doesn't show up, and they can't pay their bill.

This analogy is amazing poor for our current tax system.  It's only true importance is in describing the mindset of a conservative.  For purposes of this piece, I will pretend all conservatives think the way Dan Mitchell does.  Yes, I know that is a bit of a stretch, but in my experience his core beliefs are rather typical.

Conservatives thinks governments are a luxury, not a necessity.  Bars are luxuries, you don't need them.   Governments are a necessity, more akin to a grocery store.  That's why we have them.  No one LIKES government - not liberals or conservatives, we need it.  We do argue about what it needs to do.

Conservatives thinks that country is owned/controlled just by the conservatives, as opposed to all Americans, ignoring the liberals and the moderates.  He had the bar tender willing offer a a discount - but tax cuts are a Republican 'solution' looking for a problem.  It is NOT something Democrats are known for.   To correct the analogy, it it should be the customers demanding a discount, claiming that if they get a discount, they can buy more stuff and it will all even out.  (aka - the core GOP belief that  lower taxes rates grow the economy - higher tax income).

Conservatives refuses to admit that the wealthy are the ones in control, as opposed to the poor.   In the analogy, the rich guy isn't demanding the discount, but in real life, he is.   The top 1% don't sit back and accept what everyone else offers.  Congressmen are almost all wealthy, they give access to the wealthy and most of the money in politics comes from the wealthy.   Ignoring this fact is ridiculous.
Conservatives ignore the fact that while they are giving things to the wealthy, they are also taking from the poor.   Because the GOP doesn't just insist on tax cuts, they also want to cut services to the poor.    A better analogy would be if our wealthier patrons insist that the grocers store stop giving away water to thirsty people, claiming it is just a waste of money and they want to get all the money back in discounts, not in free sample.  Suddenly, having the wealthy guy get beat up at the end of the story makes a lot more sense if he was cutting off free water to thirsty people, just to lower his bill.    

Conservatives insists that everyone else is picking on him, during the exact same time that he is throwing punches.  Jon Stewart makes a career of throwing exact hypocritical quotes from Fox back at the people that spew filth out.  Anyone that watches the news or politics hears far more comments protecting the wealthy than the rich guy.  There is not a single comment on Fox news about how bad the wealthy people are - unless they are wealthy Democrats.   Even CNN is more likely to talk about 'job creators' than about 'robber barons'.   In reality, we aren't beating up a poor defenseless wealthy guy -  at the very least it is a fair fight, and many of us think he gets in far more low blows than we get in.

Conservatives love to 'focus the discussion', not acknowledging the counterpoint.   Effectively, it's like saying look how you don't need to spend more on your house because you just had the roof done, even though the foundation is rotten.   If his analogy was fair, the business should have a flat entree fee just to get in the door that everyone has to pay - and it's about the same amount - rich or poor.  In real life, in addition to Federal income taxes, which does tax the wealthy slightly more than the poor,  (except for the very wealthy who pay less tax than the middle class), there are a ton of state and federal taxes that affect the poor far far more than the wealthy - from FICA, sales tax, state income tax, etc.etc. etc.   Our tax system is set up to have the wealthy pay federal income tax and not much else, while the poor pay the majority of other taxes.

(Side note - You shouldn't be fixing the federal income tax first.  A prime example of this is sales tax.  High sales tax directly affects business sales.   When you have a tax holiday, sales go up.   The same can NOT be said about income tax.  Salaries are higher in states with high state income taxes, lower in states with low state income taxes.  Top 5 states with highest income per person are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, New York.  (average income by state)  The top 6 states with the highest income tax are: California, Hawaii, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island.  (income tax by state).  Note, the low end gets weird because states try to attract retirees and they don't have salaries (Florida most famously.), and we are talking about income tax affecting salaries.)

Conservatives want to kow-tow to the rich to keep them happy.   The 'moral' of his story is that if we keep unfairly requiring the rich to pay an equal share of their wealth as taxes,  then they will pick up and leave.   To that I say, FINE.  As long as we tax their wealth on the way out, I am totally OK with wealthy people deciding they don't want to be Americans.   If they go, that just will create more opportunities for new wealthy people to rise in America.

We are not a cold war communist country with a Berlin wall.  We don't need to keep people in.  If you don't like this country, leave.   If you'd rather live in a third world hell hole where the poor get no services just so that you don't have to pay taxes, then GO THERE, and leave America as it is.   Because we will be just fine without you.   But we will tax your money on the way out - you earned it here, you need to pay your fair share of taxes.   Also, don't come crying to us when the poor people overthrow your government and take your wealth.

Real Americans are Americans not because of greed or wealth, but because we believe in:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Note the total absence of reverence for money.    If you value money above and beyond Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, then we don't need you.

I would pay double taxes to stay in this country - as long as everyone else has to do the same thing.   That's a very important thing - because while that single sentence I quoted above makes no mention of money, it does state that all men are created EQUAL.

This is of course the most revealing of all - certain conservatives think money is the single most important thing in the world and the only reason anyone would ever select a country to live in.  They would give up their rights, freedoms, all to get money.  Which quite obviously demonstrates their value system.

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