Everyone agrees that the deficit is a serious problem. The basic solution is obvious enough: as a country, we need to spend less than we take in. This can be done by decreasing spending, increasing revenue or both. Naturally enough, the Republicans are largely devoted to decreasing spending and the Democrats are willing to increase revenue.
One current proposal is for the wealthiest of Americans to pay marginally more in taxes. Naturally, the Republicans and the fine folks at Fox are extremely critical of this proposal. The main Republican solution has been to leave taxes as they are (or reduce them) and address the deficit by cutting what can general be classified as social spending: education, Medicare, infrastructure, and various social programs. Attempts to address the deficit by increasing revenue by having the wealthy pay more are greeted with the nifty rhetorical phrase “class warfare.”
On the face of it, such a charge is absurd and pure hyperbole. While the proposal is for the wealthiest class to pay marginally more in taxes, this hardly seems to count as class warfare. After all, warfare would seem to indicate a serious and significant attack, presumably with an element of violence. If the Navy started sinking the super yachts of the mega wealthy and the Army started seizing mansions, then Fox would be warranted in using that term. Until then, they are just engaged in their usual empty hyperbole.
The Republicans seem to be the ones that are engaging in what could be considered class warfare. After all, their main plan seems to be to cut deeply into social services and this will do real harm to people who depend on such services, such as students, the elderly, the disabled and other folks. In contrast, the wealthy would merely be paying marginally more in taxes, thus still leaving them quite wealthy.
One defense of the wealthy being offered by the Republicans is the “job creator defense.” The idea is that the wealthy cannot be expected to pay more because this would prevent them from creating jobs. This argument, as has been argued before, has almost no merit. Lower taxes Taxes are lower now than in the Clinton era, yet unemployment is considerably higher. If lower taxes created jobs, then unemployment should be lower now.
One defense that has some merit is that it would seem unfair to tax the wealthy more so as to be able to keep various social services that provide “free stuff” to people who have not earned it.
My first reply is that the taxes on the wealthy do not simply go to provide “free stuff.” After all, the wealthy generally benefit a great deal from the state. The state provides protection for their property, wages war on their behalf, intervenes in foreign countries to their benefit, provides the infrastructure they utilize in their business, and so on. The wealthy get a great deal from the state and, as such, it is something of a smoke screen to raise the specter of the freeloaders.
My second reply is that the folks who get “free stuff” have, in some cases, actually paid for that “free” stuff by their own taxes and efforts. For example, do we want to call people who are retired or veterans who were disabled fighting in our wars free loaders who are sponging off the rich? I would not be inclined to do so.
My third reply is that some of the folks who get “free stuff” will later repay it. The obvious example here are the students of today who will become the workers (and sometimes the wealthy) of tomorrow. This can be seen as investing in the future rather than supporting free loaders.
My fourth reply is that some of the folks who get “free stuff” are people who cannot fend for themselves. The most obvious example is children. Should we abandon them so that millionaires and billionaires can avoid paying just a bit more? That would seem to be an act of callous wickedness, especially from a party that screeches about the sanctity of life (except in war and capital punishment, of course).
My fifth reply is that some of the folks who get “free stuff” need that stuff because of the grotesque inequality in wealth in this country. While I will admit that there are some people who are parasites, there are plenty of people who are working poor. They often work very hard, sometimes holding multiple jobs. However, the economic system is such that they simply cannot earn enough to live without the support of the state. If the tiny fraction of people who hold the vast majority of the wealth are asked to let a few crumbs fall from their banquet, that hardly seems like too much to ask.
My sixth reply is that providing such “free stuff” is actually a good idea for the wealthy. After all, when a society becomes extremely unbalanced, social upheaval tends to follow. Even a cursory review of history will show the consequences of having highly concentrated wealth and a large lower class. The “free stuff” provided to people can often be what keeps them from taking to the streets in revolution and engaging in real class warfare (not the bulls@t that Fox talks about) in which the wealthy are put against the wall. Paying a little extra to maintain the social order that supports, protects and enables their incredible wealth seems like a rather miniscule price to pay. Even some of the wealthy realize this and support this sort of proposal. Those who serve the wealthy as their loyal minions should also realize this and act in the best interest of their masters by supporting this proposal. Yes, I am talking to you, Republican “Tea Party” politicians and Fox “News”.