Phyllis Schlafly is a heroine of mine. She was a conservative when it was hard--when there were NO major national organizations in the country who offered strong opposition to cultural liberalism. Despite the absence of the internet, talk radio, and the media and organizational monopoly held by the left, she was able to organize an effective opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. I'm still amazed how they were able to pull it off.
Hence I am very disappointed that she has today published an article that is frankly, a caricature of the rich Republican. I am very sorry to raise this issue. It was raised over at Hotair and generated alot of conflict. But I believe this problem is one that needs to be addressed if we are to build a winning national coalition in favor of fiscal restraint, nay, fiscal sanity.
She laments, as have many wealthy conservatives, that American is becoming a "two-class society... those who pay for the services provided by government and the freeloaders. The percentage of Americans who will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009 has risen to 47 percent."
I am among the "freeloaders" she is referring to. I decided to become a "freeloader" when I left a job paying 4x more to accept a position in academia, and when I made the lazy choice with my wife to have four small children. These decisions have been such that I pay no net federal income taxes, and receive more via the EITC. Should I be ashamed of myself?
I'm having a hard time feeling ashamed. I pay, inter alia, thousands of dollars per year in sales taxes, real estate taxes, fees, etc., etc., etc,
But, it is said, we "freeloaders" pay nothing into the FEDERAL government. Now we pay thousands in payroll taxes to the federal government. But, say those poor benighted millionaires, the freeloaders are simply "fund[ing] their own Social Security and Medicare benefits." Really? I thought, and believe, that the whole SS and Medicare system was a fraud--that I am not self-funding anything--simply paying taxes for which I receive a non-negotiable and worthless "IOU" in return. And I thought, and still believe, that the alleged individual "account" is a political fraud--there is no bank account reserved for me--there is nothing--and that maybe there'll be something called "social security" decades from now, but it's unlikely to pay me much of anything.
In addition, I pay indirectly a whole lot of other taxes to the federal government. Yes--I pay them indirectly, as I am convinced, as I thought all Republicans were, that, for example, a tax on one man's dividend check is a tax on another man's paycheck (as Calvin Coolidge said).
Plus, well, I spend an awful lot of time trying to raise my children so they can grow up to be good citizens and even to fight our nation's wars.
Now why is it that the federal income tax has become so skewed? Why is it that some pay such a greater percentage of this tax? First, Reagan (and Bush Jr., to a lesser extent), reduced the income tax across the board, thus lowering the income tax rate effectively to 0 for so many Americans. Second, the top "half" of Americans saw their pre-tax income soar in the past several decades, while the pre-tax income of the poor and middle class has remained largely stagnant.
So to all the Hedge-fund managers out there, to all the power couples out there, to all those successful entrepreneurs out there--I say congratulations, you got rich. By luck and by pluck you have won the race of life, as you understand it. Congratulations again. Your higher taxes are as much a result and sign of your fabulous success.
Keep your wealth, you are taxed enough already. In fact, taxation rates approaching 50% approach confiscatory levels, and I oppose increased taxation today for that reason alone. Moreover, I agree that higher taxes on the wealthy have a more serious impact--that you gotta allow the rich to get richer if only so that the whole society gets richer.
But will you permit me to add the following:
1. That even we "freeloaders," directly or indirectly, are taxed enough already, as is our whole country?
2. That given the high unemployment rates of the young and the poor, that the most pressing need is to reduce or remove the taxes directly imposed on labor--the payroll taxes--rather than ensuring that some guy who made $2M last year is able to keep $1.4M rather than a paltry $1.3M of it--boo-freakin'-hoo.
3. That perhaps, just perhaps, there is something worthwhile in spending one's energies in raising children and education, even if it means a laughable little five-figure annual salary for my family.
Can we get back to fighting socialism?