I think the focus on Obama on the calls to ‘redistribute the wealth’ or making us more socialistic misses the far more important point.
We have been socialistic for decades. Redistribution of wealth has been a part of American politics since the New Deal. It accelerated under Johnson’s war on poverty. And the income tax code has become more progressive under both Clinton and Bush.
Yes under Bush the top 1% went from paying 28% to 36% of the income taxes while the bottom 50% went from paying 6% to 3% of the taxes. Of course you would never know this from any major media coverage.
The current political debate is not about whether we are socialist or not but where on the continuum we want to be. Most of the wealthier 50% would not mind paying something to help the poor. We could understand that perhaps 5% of the people may need help due to the misfortunes of chance. Maybe even as many as 10% may require some help.
Since private charities already help many in need, the government involvement should be minimal.
But when 40% of the people are unable to support themselves or pay taxes then the system becomes unsustainable. When 50% take more from the government than they put in then the entire system is in jeopardy. At that point voters simply vote to sustain themselves at the expense of others. In a global economy the others go somewhere else.
In 30 years in business I have learned that most without a job are in that position because of the choices they have made. Out of 100 prospects 50 will be eliminated due to a drug problem, 30 because of a criminal background, 10 because of horrible work habits and attitudes, and maybe 5 because personal health problems like obesity, depression, or chronic disease. Of the 5 that remain 3 will be mediocre who will do as little as possible to get by and 2 will be quality candidates.
In other words most of the unemployed and the poor deserve their status. These words are harsh, but they reflect a reality many employers understand. When we create a system that gives these people political control we risk killing the golden goose.
I have no problem with a moderately progressive redistribution system, but we have gone too far. I think we should raise taxes on the bottom 50%. I believe anyone who makes over $10,000 a year should pay at least $100 in federal income tax. Everyone should have some skin in the game.
Every tax increase or decrease should apply to everybody. No one should gain from raising someone else’s taxes. It is just legalized theft.