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Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fifth Quote from Liberty and Tyranny

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote, "In the most advanced countries the following will be pretty generally applicable: a heavy progressive or graduated income tax."
The Communist Manifesto also calls, by the way, for compulsory government education. Why this--and the tax thing--doesn't scare the mess outta people, I'll never know.

Don't you understand that the idea of a progressive income tax is to punish success? To punish people for having a dollar more than what some statist, liberal, leftist, or progressive thinks they ought to have?

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  1. MOTW said: "Don't you understand that the idea of a progressive income tax is to punish success? To punish people for having a dollar more than what some statist, liberal, leftist, or progressive thinks they ought to have?"

    This is a VERY generalized statement. First I don't think that everyone who believes in a progressive income tax wants to "punish success." There are those who truly believe that those who are successful should contribute a higher percentage than those who are poor. There is a part of me that agrees with this. I don’t agree with it because I want to do something as absurd as “punish success” but because those who have been success are in the position to contribute more and should. Now before you rip me a new one MOTW, let me preface this by saying that everyone, including the rich, pay way too much in taxes. I think that the system should be simplified into either a progressive flat tax (I can explain this in more detail later if you’d like) or the Fair Tax.

    Obviously there are those who want to punish success but I think they are either the mindless or those on the fringes. They also tend to be more of the statist/progressive stripe than liberal (and yes there is a difference).

  2. Now before you rip me a new one, MOTW...

    C'mon, Dave--have I ever done any such thing to you? :)

    ...everyone, including the rich, pay way too much in taxes.

    Now you've done it. Yer gonna hafta turn in yer "official liberal" card. :)

    Truthfully, Dave, if we can agree that the Fair Tax'd be a big improvement over our current tax system and that taxes in general are way too high, then it's fairly obvious that we have more points of agreement than disagreement.

    Let me ask you this: if I had said, "The effect of a progressive income tax is to punish success," would that have bothered you as much? Probably not. I think you can see where I'd be coming from if I'd said that. Not many people would dispute that that's at least one of the effects of a progressive income tax. The question then becomes, "Is that intentional?"

    I know that there are plenty of people who think of progressive income taxes as simple fairness, but I don't really think that the people most responsible for popularizing the idea, putting it into place, and maintaining it are, for the most part, among them. Too many of them--I am tempted to say starting with Marx--have had the idea that such a tax's purpose has more to do with taking the rich down a peg than with anything practical. For example, you can google and quite quickly find President Obama, in response to someone pointing out that a lower capital gains rate (admittedly not an income tax, but it still gives you a good idea of how he thinks) actually brought in more revenue, responding that it wasn't the revenue, it was the fairness, that is, he didn't mind if higher tax rates actually brought in less money, as long as the rich paid more! If that's not a desire to punish success in action, I am hard pressed to think what might be.

    It all kind of reminds me of when I was running a fast-food restaurant in one of the seedier parts of town. Some of the employees were complaining that certain other employees got treated better (they were better workers); they didn't want that. They wanted things to be "fair." I asked: "fair" meant "everybody gets treated the same." "Even if that means everybody gets treated like crap (even the good employees?)," I asked. And lo and behold, yes, even if everyone, star employees and lowlifes, got treated like crap, that would be okay, that would be "fair."

    I'll grant you readily enough that not everyone who favors progressive income taxes does so out of a desire to punish, but I do think that desire is basic to their origin, and that more people do think that way than perhaps you are willing to allow.

    Generally speaking, I favor consumption taxes--tariffs, or, better yet, the Fair Tax--over income taxes. That is as close to voluntary taxation as we can get--don't buy anything new (and I seldom do--everything I buy, 'cept underwear, I buy used) or imported, and you need pay very little--but, rich people who inevitably buy more pay more. Income taxes, on the other hand, having the effect of punishing success, actually retard the growth of wealth, and that indirectly ends up punishing everyone.

    I didn't leave you feeling "ripped," I hope. :)