How We Phrase the Taxation
I have to admit that Froma Harrop’s rhetoric, in the following single instance, does resonate a bit for me:
The centerpiece is the lowered tax on investment income, which Republicans are trying to keep at 15 percent. As a result, the idle rich living off their stock portfolios are taxed at 15 percent, while the working husband and wife, each earning $40,000, pay a marginal tax rate of 25 percent. Even Ronald Reagan was content to have dividends and capital gains treated like “sweat” income.
Of course, she fails to leaven her attack with another perspective: Harrop would have that working husband and wife (hardly sweating their bills with a household income of $80,000 a year), as they seek to get ahead and to plan for increasingly investment-based retirements, taxed to earn the money and then taxed again to grow it. The fair rates for either round of taxation are certainly arguable, but the Harrops of the world too often gloss over the reality that life’s inequities are more fundamental than the tax code.
Those who do not work for a living (a group in which some might be tempted to include professional opinionists) will find themselves in better circumstances no matter the socio-economic scheme under which they live. What progressives too often fail to see — beyond their narrow-eyed focus on “progress” — is that the rich will overstep new obstacles with ease, while those attempting to emulate their strategies, in a small way, will stumble and fall.