We Gave You Everything! You Owe Us!

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I'm certain by now most of you have heard or read Elizabeth Warren's remarks about how because society gave you what you have, society can take what you've got:

I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.' No. 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 -- and hire someone to protect against this -- because of the work the rest of us did. 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.

There's so much wrong about this it is hard to know where to begin. I could talk the fact that the things she talks about that make it possible for people to conduct business -- other than the military -- represent a tiny fraction of the actual spending of the government. I could talk about how her argument -- even though she says we should be allowed to "keep a big hunk" of our own money -- has no real limits. I could talk about how the rich already pay their fair share, paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rest of us.

But I want to be clear: the biggest fundamental flaw here is that rich people actually are the ones who gave all of that to us moreso than the other way around. Most revenue comes from rich people. They gave us roads, they gave us public education, they gave us police and fire and military. Rich people paid for -- far more than the rest of us put together -- everything the federal government does. The top 5 percent pays over 60 percent of all federal income tax. The top 1 percent pays 40 percent of all federal income tax.

And instead of thanking Mitt Romney, and other people in the top 1 percent, who pay about $800 billion in income taxes every year (not including the income taxes paid by their employees), and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, Warren and others on the left attack them as though they've done something wrong.

Granted, some a very small number of rich people don't pay their fair share. They dodge taxes and take subsidies and don't pay a higher effective rate than you and I do. But overwhelmingly, most of them do pay more than us, in both dollars and percentages. A lot more. They are the reason we have the government services we've got, and Warren pretends that these people, who are objecively the greatest contributors to the services she mentions, are somehow merely beneficiaries who are stealing from the rest of us.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on January 16, 2012 8:28 AM.

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