Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On redistribution, free markets, and government handouts

I posted the picture at right to Facebook. A high school friend called Obama a "commie pig" in the comments. When rebuked for his words, he wrote this, and then liked his own comment:

People need to learn to fail. Free market means working hard for your money. Let the rich get richer - they earned it, and some day, so will I. I will earn my money from taking from the poor if need be - if they just consume and not contribute themselves. Envy is the character of the left. You all hate the rich, until you are rich yourselves. Fairness and wealth redistribution simply means misery together. Since you all probably rely on government payouts anyway, Obama has already bought your vote. Go ahead and be the middle class, I plan on making millions.
Here was my response:

We don't have a free market in this country - not when the biggest corporations can house profits off shore, get tax incentives that start-ups don't get, buy up the media to decide what consumers learn and what they don't, and receive government protection for their losses while their profits are private. The American free market is a nice idea, but also a myth.

I don't envy Romney's wealth, but I do think that a man who thinks six times the median American income is "not very much" and assumes most parents can afford to pay for their kids' college lacks the perspective on the country's reality that he would need to run that country.

I'm all for the rich getting richer, when they earn it, as many do - but when I'm paying a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett, they're not earning all of it anymore, they are indeed engaging in the "redistribution" you otherwise claim to hate so much. Same for when the banks crash the economy and don't pay a penalty for it - their failure, our punishment, they didn't earn that wealth. But no, I don't hate the rich, I just despise certain aspects of the system that bankrupts our country - the system that doesn't ask them to pay the same share to the nation that made them wealthy as the rest of us do. If you think the center-left hates the rich, it's because you refuse to let the left define their own beliefs, and just believe what the right tells you about them. I'm glad taxes aren't where they were under Nixon, Ford, Carter - but they should be where they were under Clinton.

Yeah, we've all gotten government payouts - just like we've made government payins. The government paid me out just tonight, when I drove home on several public roads and pulled over for a public fire truck. It also paid me out when I went to a *public* high school with you. It'll pay out again when I'm old and collecting Social Security and Medicare, to which I'm paying in now. Something tells me that if you do make those millions that you - and every other American - plan on making, you won't stop driving on those roads, refuse those Social Security checks, hire only home-schooled employees without college degrees who want the job because it means they can finally get off EBT or unemployment, or tell the government's military they can let AL-Qaeda into your place.

I'll leave you with this quote from the commie pig - er, excuse me, inventor of capitalism - Adam Smith. "The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor... The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess... It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."

And also this about the poor who accept help when offered, those whom Christ reminds us to love, not scorn."[Romney's] a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, or the agonizing choices faced by families in which both parents work and a child falls ill. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Morally Disqualified

What irks you more about the Romney "47%" quote -- the inaccuracy, or the insulting elitism?

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.

For me, it's the latter -- the insipid, arrogant belief that every single person who votes for one of just two options is exactly alike; that we can all be simplified and neatly placed into one of just two buckets, very easy and homogenous.

To be sure, the quote is certainly inaccurate -- 46.4% of Americans may not pay income tax at the moment, true. BUT, the figure fluctuates, some of it is made up of folks who exploit loopholes, 8 out of the 10 states with the highest no-income rates are red states, and virtually everyone pays state, payroll, gas, sales, and other taxes. Then there's the hypocrisy: Romney says it's stupid to pay a dime more than you owe, and yet he gets made at folks who don't pay?

So there is all that. But what really galls me is this. If Romney truly believes that the current half of the nation who don't pay taxes has nearly 100% overlap with the half that votes for Obama, than he has even less perspective on "real America" than we realized. He honestly believes that everyone thinks the same way he does - vote for your wallet and your family, not your country. If you're voting for Obama's policies, it can't possibly because you're doing fine but think the President helps your neighbor -- no one actually votes that way! No, it's because you think you're a victim and the policies help you. Romney is really, truly saying that there is barely a single rich person in this country who wants to use government to help the poor; not a single person who votes for their neighbor rather than themselves. I find that insulting and, yes, un-American.

To be clear, I don't mean conservatives don't vote for their country. Many people, both liberal and conservative, vote the way they do because they think those policies are the best for the poor, for security, for the economy. What I'm saying is that Mitt Romney as an individual seems to tie his political views as much into his individual story as he does a larger vision of America, which is fine, but then he refuses to believe that others with different views can also have a respectable story or motivation. He puts himself first and then puts himself at the heart of America, claiming there's no room for anyone who doesn't behave the same way.

Romney is a thin-skinned jerk who has said nearly verbatim that middle income is five times the country's median income, that all parents can afford to pay for college, and that $374,000 "isn't very much". Wealth is fine, but thinking that everyone is just like him, and that if you're not it's because you're dependent and lazy, shows he really doesn't understand a) the reality of daily American life, or b) that people can react differently to their circumstances than he does his, and that they can have motivations and political values that he does not.

There's also the small matter of the next part of Romney's quote: "My job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." No man who says he doesn't have to worry about half the country's population is fit to run that country. You're not running for President of the People Who Vote For Me; you're running for President of the United States. With that quote alone, as much as with his racially-coded welfare lies and more even than with his foreign policy missteps or dozens of spineless flip flops, Mitt Romney has morally disqualified himself from ever holding any office again.

I pay income taxes - a higher percentage of my income than Mitt Romney, in fact. I'm no more dependent on the government than anyone else who drives on public roads, eats inspected food, walks in public parks, and relies on the protection of the police, fire department, and military. I'm certainly no victim. So by that standard, I'm part of the 6% of the country Romney says he cares about who also voted for Obama in 2008.

But in 2012, I'll still be voting for Barack Obama.