Am I really a socialist?
"To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there's more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged." — Norman Mailer
Interesting thought Norman. Let's continue to ponder your observation.
While I like to steer clear of politics, I must admit the fascination it holds for me. It is similar to going to Provincetown to people-watch, but different.
People watching is passive while watching people, and their politics, includes a certain amount of passion. The passion leads many to believe they know the answers, and it often uncovers a bias that otherwise stays hidden and perhaps even latent.
Last political season I was accused of being a socialist because I just didn’t get “Joe the Plumber” and the opposition to increased taxation for those making more than $250,000 (specifically 3 percent more in taxes). While I could almost fathom the notion that some folks with incomes in excess of $250,000 struggle, the same opposition seems to exist when you increase the amount and ask “what about 3 percent for the millionaires?”
I think I was called a socialist because somehow this 3 percent represents a redistribution of wealth. Huh? It is simple math that $30,000 a year in the hands of the middle class is not only fair, but it will benefit the wealthiest as that $30,000 will not trickle down; rather it will go straight into the economic machine which is owned by the wealthy (or at least most of the stocks are held by the wealthiest individuals).
It seems like a no-brainer; that taking $30,000 from a person or family earning in excess of $1 million dollars will not deter any spending on goods, services, homes, cars, etc.
It also seems like a no-brainer that keeping taxes static or lowering them for the middle and lower classes will generate more buying of goods, services, homes, cars, etc.
It would help if someone could explain to me why this is not good without calling me a socialist, suggesting I'm a person who wants my tax dollars to go to welfare or other services. These seem like two distinct issues. For the record, I want welfare reform (some sort of workfare) and I want less spending on war and many other government-sponsored programs.
The socialist accusation is even more puzzling and troubling because I have spent my entire working life building a business and enjoying the capitalist system and what it offers entrepreneurs. I am for most tax cuts that specifically are instituted to stimulate commerce. I have bought machinery because of tax breaks. I bought my first hybrid car when the government offered me a $2,000 tax reduction, and the car company promised me 50 miles per gallon.
Seemed like common sense.
And then there is fair. I love the definition of fair as giving someone what they need rather than making everything the same or equal. Fair is more complicated than same or equal and so its definition should be as well.
I am not registered as a Democrat or a Republican, but being an Independent is not without labels. There are still conservative, liberal or moderate Independents — right, left or center — and I like to straddle.
Here’s what this straddler does: he starts in the middle and fluctuates depending on the issues. Like a man who has had one too many, I sometimes surprise myself when I fall too far right or left. When I sober up, I try to make sense of it all.
If you can help me and my sober mind make sense of how the millionaire’s tax is unfair, stupid, or just bad policy please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and enlighten me.
I will report back any epiphany I have and share it with anyone who cares to listen.
Reade Brower, a longtime local resident, is owner of The Free Press and Courier Publications LLC.