October 15, 2011

The Evils of Representation Without Taxation

James Joyner at Outside The Beltway has an interesting but ultimately I think misguided post about the supposedly 'heartless' response of conservative bloggers to the Occupy Wall Street effort.  Why misguided?  Firstly, it assumes that everyone behind the OWS effort is pure and there is no progressivist agenda behind the movement at some level.  Setting that aside, the blame for people not paying taxes is the conservatives' push for lower taxes.

Quoting Suzy Khimm, WaPo WonkBlog, he points out;
Part of the reason that over 40 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes is because of the continual push to lower them — a cause that conservatives have championed. For example, while the Bush-era tax cuts benefited the wealthy, they also lowered taxes at every income level, making it “relatively easy for families of four making $50,000 to eliminate their income tax liability,” as the Associated Press notes. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, similarly, took many lower-income Americans off of the tax rolls, an accomplishment about which the Gipper was quite proud.

That is a complete distortion of the truth - the Bush tax cuts were across the board, and the conservative point of view is not that 40% of the population should pay no taxes, nor that low taxes are a standalone objective.  It's also a distortive interpretation of what Reagan was proud about - it had to do with reduced taxation in general.  Most importantly the push for lower taxes was not intended to get people to a point where they had representation without any taxation.  Everyone who benefits from the nation should put something into it.  That's fair.  You can argue the details of how and how much but if you want to give people a free lunch on an ongoing basis on the backs of those who are working hard to survive, you won't get a lot of support from those who are doing the hard work.

Conservatives believe in limited government.  Conservatives believe in self sufficiency.  We do not oppose helping the poor - we oppose being forced to do so, especially in the cases where people are presented with incentives to remain unproductive members of society when  many clearly do not need to do so.  While taxation without representation is evil, so is representation without taxation.  There are very few members of society who truly need permanent assistance.  They should receive it.  Those who need temporary assistance should receive it.  Everyone else needs to be productive.  40 million people on food stamps is an embarrassment.

Welfare itself is an embarrassment, it should be a national agenda to make welfare almost non-existent because nearly nobody needs it.  Expanding welfare rolls is not compassionate.  Giving a hand up instead of a hand out is compassionate.  It is given accompanied with dignity rather than shame.  Whereas giving people the right to vote themselves a growing share of the wealth of others is morally wrong and could be argued to be heartless.

Getting back to the lower taxes argument, conservatives believe in lower taxes for all and less government to accompany it.  Government is an entity and entities are interested in their own continuity and growth.  Lower taxes combined with a limited mandate ensures government, which is the one entity that can enforce its objectives on everyone, does not grow out of control.  Conservatives also believe the best way to generate tax revenue is to have a vibrant economy that generates a strong GDP.  The taxation that must occur will be applied to a larger economy and therefore generate more revenue.  It's not complicated, and it works if you let it.

As for being heartless, I for one resent being called heartless.  I donate to two charities regularly despite having very little disposable income.  I am simply sick of being told that because I'm not on board with a progressivist agenda and their 99% DOES NOT INCLUDE ME (and I'm so not rich) that I'm a heartless scumbag.  I'm not, so don't call me one and don't distort the reality of taxation to do so.

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