Tax the rich! Forward! For the people!
“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” — George Orwell
What’s the best way to recoup the taxes which the majority of people don’t pay? Ah, well, the obvious answer, if you’re a modern day statist (socialist, communist, fascist – take your pick), is that increasing the price of, and levy on, petrol, will be the most effective way of recouping said taxes. Of course punishing those who did pay taxes in the first place is merely a side issue. There’s probably no point in arguing over this issue; we live in a modern, progressive, liberal democracy and the state may do as she pleases (or he, I don’t know, choose whichever gender takes your fancy.)
Spend spend spend! From America to Australia, modern governments have adopted the view that spending more will solve all of the world’s economic problems. The children and grandchildren of those alive today are going to have to pay their debt which people are racking up now (the US debt is now $16.6 trillion and growing), but those of a more liberal persuasion don’t seem to be too worried, as long as teenagers can get free contraceptives and we stop warming the environment (or cooling it – I’m not sure which one is ‘accepted’ nowadays.)
Most hardcore libertarians are against taxes qua taxes, but I do believe that one should pay for services which one uses. The problem arises when government overreaches the limits of the constitution and in so doing the rights of individuals are infringed upon. By the by, I’m talking about rights here, not needs; property rights, the right to keep what one earns and the right to defend your family, not the need of ‘free’ healthcare, free contraceptives, free phones and all that good stuff. Those who believe that all economic ‘inequalities’ will be solved by increasing taxes on the “rich” miss a crucial point: those evil rich capitalists are the ones employing people, making money and employing people, not mooching off of others. Once you kill the ethic of hard work, of entrepreneurship and enterprise, the right of the individual to make money and spend is as he sees fit, you’re going to undermine the very utopia which you’re trying to build. Morality ends where a gun begins: once you use force to take the possessions of others, you lose all moral credibility which you might have had before – forcing irrationally high taxes on the ‘rich’ is immoral, and it will backfire.
All of the socialist anti-rich talk seems to miss quite a lot about the “average” man (I put “rich” and “average” in inverted commas because such terms are part of Marxist/socialist mentality and are used to create resentment between “classes” in society.) People in less-developed countries are living much better lives because they and their societies are engaged in the free market – sure, it’s not the ideal laissez-faire free market, but it’s better than nothing. Individuals are free to do what they want with their money, as they see fit – it’s the moral system. Going to the supermarket to buy food is the choice of the individual – the fact that we have so much choice is indicative of the fact that capitalism has been embraced by the people – whether they despise capitalism or not. The college professors who go on and on about the evils of capitalism are the same people who buy food at Pick ‘n Pay and who drive cars built by private companies. Those of the Marxist/socialist view seem to think that we need to be controlled and told what to spend our money on, because we are too stupid as individuals to live our lives as best we can, with all that entails. Wanting to control each individual in society in such a precise manner reeks of dictatorship.
One of the favourite phrases of those on the left is “social justice” – if you or your organization is for social justice, you are for goodness, and all those who don’t stand with you are in favor of evil. F. A. Hayek identified justice in the classical sense as a particular action of persons. “Only situations that have been created by human will can be called just or unjust … Social justice,” Hayek concludes, ” does not belong to the category of effort but that of nonsense, like the term ‘a moral stone.'” Justice creates a claim on others. So who is being unjust? The employers who cannot afford more workers? The consumers who refuse to create enough demand to justify more workers? The government for not taxing innocent parties to pay for labor that isn’t needed and that they did not vote for? “Social justice” assumes rights – social rights, economic rights etc. – that cannot be enforced. It makes no sense to speak of social justice in a free society, because to do so assumes that we should not in fact live in a free society. There are no limiting principles to “social justice.” It is an open-ended license for the forces of ‘goodness’ to do what they think is right forever. There are no boundaries, no internal checks, no definitional roadblocks. Look out for the “social justice” enforcers.