So long as the country talks in the terms of self reliance and independence, we’re not going to see substantive change in health care, education, or the scope of the community compact. The allure of free men (sic) creating a personal paradise from their own intelligence and sweat is too powerful to overcome with mere logic. There are too many catchy slogans about “tax and spend” and other off-point sound bites to alter the course of the country by continuing to talk in the terms created by Republicans and Libertarians.
Instead, I believe the President and others interested in strengthening the wider community need to take up the challenge and talk about the type of society we want to build based on the type of people we are.
We need to act more like a compassionate society where we say we want our most well off people to help those who cannot effectively fend for themselves. Empathy is in, and Welfare Queen stories are Ronald-Reagan-like fun-fact distractions. In fact, they need to be challenged as irrelevant to our moral belief that we are in this life together and want to help each other out.
Rather than sniveling and trying to minimize proposed tax increases on people making more than $1 million (or, $250,000, or whatever), we need to be bold and honest. Congratulate these successful people on their work, and say to them that we need their help to create the society we want to live in.
Look, Bill Gates, America needs 3/4 of what you make over $1,000,000 so that we can let the Amazon.com worker who is shipping boxes of Windows to your clients get appropriate chemotherapy for his cancer. I’ll show you, Bill, how the medical program is efficient and cost conscious. You’re monetary contribution is being well used, and thank you for being such a huge contributor to our community’s well being.
I frankly don’t think Bill Gates — or many entrepreneurs — are going to stop working because of the tax rate. They are not going to stop hiring people or doing whatever is right for their business if their personal income is taxed. More importantly, asking them to chip in is the right moral thing for us to do. And, if we consistently describe the taxes as a contribution to the American Community, I think we have a better chance of acceptance and compliance. Or, if the well-off rebel, and everything breaks down, we know we belong back in the caves owned by Ayn Rand, Dick Chaney, and other appealing egoists.
This is the true debate. I am my brother’s keeper. We are stronger and better people when we help one another.
Or, as the Cains of the right suggest, should government exist only to provide civil order?