Monday, September 26, 2011

the limited wisdom of Elizabeth Warren

On Saturday, the C-J pointed to this quote from Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts, who "gives all Americans a civics lesson about taxes and democracy in this segment of a recent talk":

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory...Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

True enough--as far as it goes. 

One should note that the targets of her comments paid for these things as well-- and probably a significant share. Why should we begrudge them for using the resources for which they have paid, along with others.

The bigger point: This tells us NOTHING about the extent to which the successful should pay taxes. And it takes us nowhere in terms of making the case for increasing marginal tax rates as income rises. That she thinks it does-- and that others have applauded her-- reveals the paucity of their thought processes, the cynicism of their political calculus, or the envy in their hearts.


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