Any just government has an obligation to ensure that all of its citizens are treated equally in the eyes of the law. This premise was the inspiration for the founding of our great country.
There are other examples of enlightened changes our government has made when a lack of fairness in the eyes of the law became untenable, such as emancipation, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Act. This has made us the fairest society in the history of the planet.
IN RECENT YEARS, however, the federal government has engineered so-called fairness beyond that mandate. This obsession with fairness has reached fetish levels, and it’s been presented in seductive ways. After all, if I disagree with a policy based on the guise of fairness, then I must be for unfairness, right?
This rhetoric about fairness could be dismissed easily as populist nonsense in an election year, but it cuts much deeper. The current manifestations of fairness are not about righteously correcting injustices. They are about retribution by an ideology that mistakenly posits that those who have achieved have done so via exploitation and unfairness.
But the ugliest part is that this ideology will lead to more suffering.
The federal tax rate on millionaires could be raised to 75 percent, let alone the 30 percent of the absurd “Buffett Rule,” and won’t make a dent in the deficit. It won’t make a single middle-class or impoverished life better. All it will do is take money out of the economy and pass it through a bureaucratic wealth-shredder when it otherwise would have been spent or invested, creating jobs and wealth for the middle class.
I’m reminded of former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle on television a few years back waving a car muffler around, lamenting how unfair it was that middle-class folks could afford only a new muffler from the Bush tax cuts, while the wealthy could afford to buy a new luxury car. In his cheap political theater, he put on parade the economic illiteracy of those of his ilk who are currently in power.
HUNDREDS OF different materials were mined, mixed and shipped by middle-class workers to produce thousands of parts in a luxury car, including a muffler. The people who manufactured those parts were in the middle class. The people who assembled the car were in the middle class. The trucker who shipped the car was in the middle class. The dozens of employees in the dealership were in the middle class. The auto insurance agent was in the middle class.
All of this economic activity resulted in exponentially more tax revenue at all levels than a simple muffler change. No, money does not trickle down through the economy. When government doesn’t have a stranglehold on the private sector, it rains from the sky.
And how fair is it that those who buy luxury cars and create jobs pay nearly all of the federal income tax each year, while almost 50 percent of our citizens pay no federal income tax or actually realize a net gain, usually consuming more services? Who exactly is not paying a fair share?
How fair is it to run up $5 trillion in debt in the past three years alone that will be heaped on the backs of people yet to be born? How fair is it to tell the states that they can’t pass their own laws regarding voter identification or immigration, or that they can’t open non-union plants that employ hundreds? How fair is it to fine me or put me in jail if I don’t buy health insurance? How fair is it to force me to violate my religious beliefs?
Although I sometimes wince at CEO pay, limiting their salaries in the name of fairness would put mere pennies into average workers’ paychecks, and a government that limits CEO pay can limit your wages as well. Does that sound fair?
IT MAY BE difficult for some to accept that four more years of cultish obsession with perceived unfairness to some will make more unfairness for all, but it’s a reality all must bravely and honestly face. Pseudo-intellectuals in Congress and the White House are recklessly putting theory above people. It’s a twisted irony that they themselves are victimizing the same people they erroneously claim have been so victimized by others. But who said life was fair?
(The writer is chairman of the science department of Aiken Technical College.)