Archive for the ‘Budget and Tax’ Category
As I mentioned in my previous column, President Obama has been continuing his call to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help reduce the federal government’s enormous deficit. Keep in mind, this deficit was largely created by unchecked spending on social benefit and entitlement programs as well as through failed efforts to reinvigorate the economy.
Rather than curb irresponsible spending on programs like “Obamacare,” food stamps and other welfare programs, low-interest college funding, etc., by restricting them to only the neediest citizens, the president wants the wealthiest to fund these programs’ expansion. Though he says he is only taxing “those who can most afford it” and that he only wants the wealthiest to “pay their fair share,” what he is actually proposing is furthering the redistribution of wealth in the United States in the name of social justice.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, redistribution of wealth is defined as “the social mechanism, such as a change in tax laws, monetary policies, or tort law, that engenders the redistribution of goods” from one individual or group to others. This is precisely what the president is doing: proposing changes in the tax laws to selectively raise taxes on the wealthiest in order to fund programs that were originally designed to benefit only a certain segment of the population- in this case, the poor. As noble as these programs may once have been, the proposed act of redistribution raises at least three ethical objections.
1. Redistribution allows the government to decide winners and losers. According to Sen. Daniel Webster, the federal government was “made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.” Yet redistribution does the opposite: rather than answer to the people as a whole, certain people are made to answer the government’s whims. The government is able, by fiat, to take from one group and give to another, thereby deciding who deserves and receives which resources when; in other words, it decides winners and losers. Taking from one group and giving to another is an unethical action for a government that declares itself to be for all people.
2. Redistribution disrespects private property and personal earnings. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes the clause that no person “shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In almost blatant violation, redistribution takes the private property of one group and gives it to another group. Respect for private property, which includes assets of all kinds (physical and financial), was one of the founding concepts of the United States. Taking a person’s private property and personal earnings to give to another is an unethical action for a government that was founded on the respect of such property.
3. Redistribution aims to eliminate poverty; however, when nobody is poor, then everybody will be. The stated goal of redistribution is a more egalitarian society through actions of distributive justice. Proponents of redistribution ask: how are the poor able to prosper and better themselves when they never have access to the necessary resources? Therefore they call on the government to take the resources from the wealthy and redistribute it. We learn in physical science that water always seeks its own level; the same is true in economics. A government cannot redistribute resources and thereby elevate everyone’s economic situation. Taking resources from one group and sharing it with everyone will only result in shared poverty, not shared prosperity. Creating shared poverty is an unethical action for the federal government to take.
Since his reelection, President Obama has continued his call to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Though promoted as a solution to the federal deficit, the real intent is to redistribute the resources of the wealthiest and create an egalitarian society. However, redistribution of wealth by the American government is unethical because it allows the government to pick winners and losers; it disrespects private property and personal earnings, and; it creates mass poverty rather than mass prosperity.
America was established in reaction to a tyrant who arbitrarily seized property, imposed selective taxation and redistributed wealth (back to England). It saddens me to think that, two weeks ago, America reelected a leader who does the same.