Can America continue down the path President Obama is taking us on, to a time soon and certain when a majority of wage-earners pay no income taxes but a majority of citizens receive federal benefits?
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," said Mitt, "the 47 percent who ... are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. ... These are people who pay no income tax ... ."
What was wrong with this?
One slice of that 47 percent who receive benefits are students who will pay taxes later. A larger slice are retirees on Social Security and Medicare who paid into both programs all their working lives.
But what was right about what Romney said was discerned two centuries ago by that governmental genius John C. Calhoun.
"The necessary result ... of the unequal fiscal action of the government is to divide the community into two great classes; one consisting of those who ... pay the taxes ... and bear exclusively the burden of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into taxpayers and tax consumers."
A nation sundered between taxpayers and tax consumers, said Calhoun, "must give rise to two parties and to violent conflicts and struggles between them, to obtain the control of the government."
Is that not a fair description of where we are today?
Sen. Gene McCarthy used to say every citizen has three duties: to bear arms in defense of his country, to vote and to pay taxes. Is it a good thing that this ideal is laughed at, that the draft is abolished, that scores of millions pay nothing in income taxes?
Retired Americans living on Social Security, exempt from taxes because their income is modest, are not the problem.
But in 2010, some 4.4 million Americans were on welfare rolls, 22 million on government payrolls, 23 million were receiving Earned Income Tax Credit checks, 44 million were on food stamps, 50 million were on Medicaid, and 70 million wage-earners were paying no income taxes.
For most of these folks, Obama's Party, which would expand benefits, tax the rich even more and redistribute the wealth, is their party. And understandably so.