(A political rant below, if any of you are averse to such things.)
How's this for a stunner? Democratic veep pick Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) told Good Morning America that it's "patriotic" for the wealthy to pay more taxes that, in the Obama-Biden administration, would be used to help offset tax cuts for the middle class.
Good Lord... where to begin.
How about with semantics? It's not patriotic. Patriotic is believing, truly believing, what our country stands for and doing what you can, as a citizen, to support and promote those ideas. Patriotism is something that all of us, left and right, can agree on: Jefferson's principles about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Respecting the rule of law, even if you don't agree. Supporting our troops and all the sacrifices they make to protect us. That's patriotism.
Patriotism is not policy.
All that, of course, says nothing of the exaggerated idea of wealth redistribution. My wife and I are not rich; barring an unexpected lottery win, we will not be rich. So this whole Robin Hood ideal is quaint, but barely realistic.
Let's imagine for a moment Obama gets elected and this policy is enacted. Now, other folks are penalized to give me a few more bucks to throw around. Let's say, for instance, I decide to save that money. As an average citizen, I put the money in the bank - which is probably a large national or regional bank, like PNC, BB&T or Bank of America - which it uses to help make loans to others at much higher rates than what I get back. That makes money for the bank, which is run by wealthy individuals who get a cut of that money in either salary or bonuses. (In truth, we belong to a small credit union, yet I don't think the people running the credit union drive Kias.)
Let's say, for instance, I'm your average guy and want a shiny new techno-gadget or a new game for the 360. What am I going to do? I'll take that money to Best Buy or Circuit City and buy something. That money, in turn, helps the bottom line (however incrementally) of billion-dollar international retail outlets, which pay their executives a great salary and good bonuses because I decided I wanted something shiny from Best Buy or Circuit City. Moreover, the manufacturer gets a cut of that, possibly taking the money out of the country and making rich people even richer.
Let's say, for instance, I want to get ahead on bills. That means more money headed into the direction of the following: Verizon Wireless (Verizon's market capitalization: just shy of $93 billion); Washington Gas (market cap: $1.73 billion); Cox Communications (a privately-held company, but in 2005 made a sale to another company that brought in $2.55 billion); DirecTV (owned by Liberty Entertainment Group - market cap: $12.31 billion); XM Radio (now a part of XM-Sirius - market cap: better than $3 billion); and Carmax (market cap: $3.35 billion).
So, no matter which way I turn, I'd be giving that money right back to a large corporation, which are mostly run by rich people, who - per this policy - gave me the money in the first place.
Wealth redistribution is a myth, particularly in a capitalist society.
But here's what bugs me most about Biden's idea of patriotism: The money from the rich folks is supposed to come to me.
I live in a decent suburban house with a wonderful wife (happy birthday, honey) and two cats. I drive an Explorer (though I wish I drove a Stratus so I could exclaim it like this guy) and have enough to indulge in a newfound wine passion. Yeah, money is tight, particularly after we bought the house; but I can make it for however long it takes to pay off said Explorer.
So why, exactly, does Biden want to give money to me? I live a good life with few complaints.
Why not give the money to people who really need it? Like the lower class or the lower-middle class, people who struggle to pay bills on a regular basis. People living below the poverty line. The homeless.
There are people out there who are a lot worse off than me, through no fault of their own. Why are they not at the front of the line? Why me? I could use the money, but I don't need it. Lots of other people need it. Why don't they get consideration?
Oh, right. We don't pander to the lower class.