War on the Rich

End the War on the Rich

There are more and more people out there pissed at the rich.  I certainly understand where they’re coming from, but they’re wrong.  The rich per se aren’t the problem.  It’s time to quit fighting against the rich.  Occupy Wall Street has been wanting to smack the rich, and making a lot of noise about it.  The problem is they’re wrong.  The rich are not now, nor have they ever really been, the problem.

No, the problem is the corporatists.  Those are the people we need to stand united against.

Corporations are a tool, a way to organize businesses.  They’re not the enemy either.  However, the people who seem to believe that corporations deserve tons of special breaks, including government bailouts, are.  They are the reason people are pissed.

Ezra Klein has a piece where he outlines many of the complaints of the OWS-ers.  Most of them are debt related.  A lot of it is student debt, debt that Presidents through the years told them to take on for a better life.  I understand that anger…to a point.

But you look around and the reality is not everyone is suffering. Wall Street caused this mess, and the government paid off their debts and helped them rake in record profits in recent years. The top 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income and 40 percent of its wealth. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to be doing everything they’re supposed to do, and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

Class warfare produces less tax revenue in the UK

With President Barack Obama telegraphing his fall strategy of raising taxes on the wealthy in the name of “fairness,” we need only look across the Pond to our friends in the United Kingdom where a surtax on the evil and hated rich has actually caused revenues to decline:

The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period.

The self-assessment returns from January, when most income tax is paid by the better-off, have been eagerly awaited by the Treasury and government ministers as they provide the first evidence of the success, or failure, of the 50p rate. It is the first year following the introduction of the 50p rate which had been expected to boost tax revenues from self-assessment by more than £1billion.

Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad.

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morissey explains why President Obama plans are likely to do the same in the United States:

Chart of the Day: Half of Americans don’t pay income taxes

With April 15th slowly creeping up and many Americans and small business owners facing the prospect higher taxes by year’s end — no thanks to President Barack Obama, the Heritage Foundation reminds us that nearly half of the nation doesn’t pay any income taxes at all. It’s a point to remember when Obama and his ilk start complaining about the rich not paying their “fair share”:

On “fairness,” the Buffett Rule and progressive taxation

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama telegraphed his intent to wage class warfare against the rich, hoping to revive the populism that helped put him in office at the height of the financial crisis.

Obama once again pushed for the so-called “Buffett Rule” — after Warren Buffett, who pays a higher tax rate than his secretary. The rule would tax individuals making over $1 million at a higher rate, out of “fairness.”

Writing at the Wall Street Journal, economist Stephen Moore asks President Obama about “fairness,” taxes, and his economic policies that discourage success:

President Obama has frequently justified his policies—and judged their outcomes—in terms of equity, justice and fairness. That raises an obvious question: How does our existing system—and his own policy record—stack up according to those criteria?

Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax?

Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country’s income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?

Is it fair that American corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cuts its rate on April 1?

Is it fair that President Obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run, and produce higher test scores than public schools in Washington, D.C.—but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?

Obama goes Christianist on tax policy

Welcome Instapundit readers!

During a speech on National Prayer Breakfast at the National Cathedral, President Barack Obama went partisan (shocker!) in what is usually a bipartisan event by invoking Jesus Christ to justify his push for higher taxes:

President Obama offered a new line of reasoning for hiking taxes on the rich on Thursday, saying at the National Prayer Breakfast that his policy proposals are shaped by his religious beliefs.

Obama said that as a person who has been “extraordinarily blessed,” he is willing to give up some of the tax breaks he enjoys because doing so makes economic, and religious sense.

“For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” Obama said, quoting the Gospel of Luke.

I’ll admit upfront that I believe raising taxes is a terrible idea. It’s even worse of an idea in economy that just now seems recovering from an severe downturn, a point that the Congressional Budget Office recently echoed. But President Obama’s invocation of Jesus and religion to push tax hikes is sickening and it makes him no different from someone like Rick Santorum, who frequently uses his faith to justify authoritarian social policies.

The 99% want to be the 1%

Even though the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement has dwindled significantly over the last few weeks, the issue of income inequality isn’t going to vanish. President Barack Obama will no doubt try to use class warfare and wealth envy to further polarize the American public — and likely use your tax dollars in doing so, hoping that this deflection will mask his administration’s failure and help get him re-elected.

Over at the Washington Post, Charles Lane explains that Americans are less worried about income inequality than in the past, and rightfully so:

In a Dec. 16 Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans called the rich-poor gap “an acceptable part of our economic system.” Only 45 percent said it “needs to be fixed.” This is the precise opposite of what Gallup found in 1998, the last time it asked the question, when 52 percent wanted to “fix” inequality.

Maybe Americans are Okunites — as in Arthur Okun, the late Yale economist and author of the 1975 book, “Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff.”

Okun saw free markets as a source of unparalleled human progress — and of big gaps between rich and poor. Indeed, he argued, markets are efficient partly because they distribute economic rewards unevenly. Government should try to smooth out income stratification, but such efforts risk undermining incentives to work and invest.

“Some Are More Equal Than Others…”

I keep hearing about how income has become vastly unequal in the past decade. That’s really not a big problem, because if the top 1% get richer, it doesn’t ipso facto mean I’m going to lose money, but as it turns out, it’s also not really true.

Political Calculations took a look at the data on incomes, and using the Gini coefficient—the standard for income inequality—plotted a graph from 1994-2010 on it:

Flat red line showing how much income inequality hasn't changed

Yeah. As you can see, zip.

The writer then explains why so many are saying the income equality sky is falling. It’s a good read.

Republicans propose a “Buffett Rule”

If millionaires and billionaires like Warren Buffet are so anxious to pay more in taxes, some Republicans in Congress are happy to oblige. No, not by raising their taxes, but by providing an option on their tax return to voluntarily send more money to Washington:

With Buffett concerned that he does not pay enough in taxes, congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to allow Buffett — and others who believe they are under-taxed — the easy option of voluntarily donating to the U.S. Treasury on their tax forms.

South Dakota Senator John Thune and Lousiana Rep. Steve Scalise have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Dubbed “The Buffett Rule Act of 2011,” the names of the bills take a mocking swipe at President Barack Obama’s own proposed “Buffet Rule,” which conversely would close tax code loopholes to ensure that Warren Buffett and those like him no longer pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

According to Thune, there is nothing stopping Buffett from paying more in taxes, and his legislation would streamline that capability.

“If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money towards paying down the federal government’s debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily,” said Thune.

George Will on Elizabeth Warren and the social contract

Elizabeth Warren’s rant against the rich had some truth to it, as Russ Roberts recently noted, but was also incredibly misleading given the examples she gave are primarily functions of local governments, not the federal government. George Will also points out that Warren also dishonestly twisted the “social contract” to fit her ideology:

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren Buffett declines to endorse the Buffett Rule

While President Barack Obama has named a key part of his job destruction plan after him, Warren Buffett hasn’t exactly endorsed the proposal to tax higher income earners:

Investment guru Warren Buffett set off a political firestorm Friday with a series of interviews in which he appeared to distance himself from the tax policy proposal President Obama introduced under the billionaires name.
Buffett, making similar remarks in all three interviews, said he is happy with the use of his name on the legislation, but added he doesn’t know all of the details included in the proposal, and the only plan he advocated was a higher tax rate on people who “make money with money only.

He noted he was describing a very limited number of wealthy Americans who earn the majority of their income through capital gains, which is taxed at a 15 percent rate.

“What I’m talking about would not apply to someone that made $5 million a year as a baseball player or $10 million a year on media,” Buffett said on Fox Business Network. “It would apply only to probably 50,000 people out of 309 million who have huge incomes, pay very low taxes. There should be a policy that applies to people with money who earn lots of money and pay very low rates. If they earn it by normal jobs what I say would not hit them at all.”

The billionaire businessman caused confusion with his remarks, and it was compounded by the fact that there have been no specific details from the administration regarding what additional taxes on millionaires would entail.

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