My maternal grandfather was a farmer and would proudly take his vegetables and produce into town to sell at the farmers' market. He was often successful in getting a respectable return on his sweat equity, which would allow him to support his family and plan for the next growing season.
Even though my grandfather was the grandson of slaves, he was able to own his small farm, own his crops and own the modest return as the fruits of his labor.
Our Founding Fathers envisioned a society that valued and rewarded ownership and individual achievement. Ownership is as much an unalienable right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, because they are all endowed by our Creator. Just as the pursuit of happiness is not possible without liberty, liberty is not possible without ownership of one's time, talent and treasure. To argue otherwise would be illogical.
President Bush's vision of an ownership society is the same as that of our Founding Fathers, our grandparents and our parents. The centerpiece of Bush's vision is to restructure the soon-insolvent Social Security structure and instill a greater degree of fairness for all citizens in the outdated income tax code.
When Social Security was enacted in 1935, each worker was taxed 3% on the first $3,000 of income. A brochure describing the new program issued by the then-Social Security Board stated, "That is the most you will ever have to pay." Today we are taxed at a rate of 12.4% on the first $90,000 of income.
According to the latest projections by the Social Security trustees, benefits paid to retirees will exceed payroll taxes collected by 2017. If members of Congress do not act now to restructure the system as the President has proposed, which is very similar to two bills already introduced in the Senate, they will have no choice but to cut benefits and raise taxes again.
But congressional Democrats attack the President's vision daily. They believe it is right for citizens to continue to receive a negative return on their lifelong contributions to the Social Security system, and in many instances no return at all. The return on contributions is even worse for black people, because of the difference in their average life expectancy.
These same Democrats do not want to replace the outdated tax code. They do nothing but place party partisanship over what is best for the country, because they want to continue to deny people more control of their money.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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