11 July 2008

Redistribution of wealth’

I still can’t wrap my head around Steve Inskeep’s off-hand remark about Barack Obama’s tax policy as “redistribution of wealth” (yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition). His decision to use that phrase is puzzling in many ways (even more because associating Obama with Communism has become a frequent and pernicious meme), most obviously because Obama’s tax plan doesn’t call for much more than rolling back George Bush’s reckless tax cuts for the wealthy.

As I ponder the idea of “redistribution of wealth,” though, I can’t help but notice that the Bush tax cuts are themselves a radical redistribution of wealth: they place more money in the hands of people who already have the most money—at the expense of the rest of us and at the expense of our nation’s economic future. If you don’t believe me, check out this chart tracking the ever-widening monetary gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us.

The scandal of the current tax code has nothing to do with some Marxist bogeyman who takes all our money and gives it to some lazy Other. Instead, the redistribution of wealth we should be concerned about is the very real monster that robs more than 99% of us to give more to the few people who need financial help the least.

Now that Erica and I are both employed, we almost certainly will fall into a higher tax bracket. If higher taxes mean that we can help people less fortunate than we are—if it means fewer people without healthcare, more people with a more promising present and future—then I’m more than happy to contribute my fair share to the improvement of our society.

This is the archive for commonplace book entries that I published in July 2008.