The MSM's Tax Naifs

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jul 06, 2009 12:20 PM
The LA Times' Chris Erskine wrote a column about a tea party in suburban Los Angeles over the weekend.  Along with all the condescendingly folksy "color commentary" about the "characters" attending, Erskine managed perfectly to crystallize the naive (or ignorant) MSM attitude to tax increases:

In such a climate, it strikes me as . . . well, almost un-American to be griping so vehemently about helping those less fortunate. Were this a war, we'd all dig a little deeper to buy guns and battleships.

Well, we're in a war, and we've got to dig a little deeper to provide jobs and economic band-aids. We will. When pressed, we are a pretty amazing country.

Erskine makes a number of assumptions that are troublingly uninformed.

First, America is the most generous country on earth, as our record of private charitable giving demonstrates.   What's more, the type of people protesting at the tea parties are more likely to be donating than Erskine's liberal buddies, who apparently consider taxes something akin to a holy offering.

None of the tax protests have anything to do with opposition to "helping those less fortunate" (although, in fairness, when did it become "un-American" to object to having the fruits of one's own labor coercively taken by the state, simply because other people were deemed to "need" what you had earned?).   Rather, the tea parties have arisen because of the government's wasteful spending.  Perhaps Erskine should look into the panoply of benefits that allow our state representatives (and state workers) to live in a way that those in the private sector cannot -- and their air of entitlement to them.

Second, in a "war," people are providing for the common defense.  Here in California, the productive are taxed without mercy -- and yet the schools underperform, the hospitals and prisons are overcrowded, and the roads are a mess.  Unless you are part of a union, a politician, or in need of public assistance, there isn't a whole lot to like about the way the state is run.  You pay, and pay, and pay -- and see nothing for it.  In a war, people in the rest of the country would object -- and rightly so -- for being taxed to eternity to defend, say, only the northeast.

Third, as even those like Erskine should be learning from the Obama "stimulus" debacle, jobs are not "provided" by taxing the people who create them.  Jobs are created when the job-creators are freed from the nightmarish over-regulation and confiscatory taxation that has made California a terrible climate for "business" -- yes, the same "business" that creates jobs.

Finally, Erskine assumes that everyone who is protesting over-taxation is simply doing so to be selfishly "un-American."  Has it ever occurred to him that for some, a tax bill that forever spirals upward can spell economic disaster?  How is it someone putting out a hand for public assistance should be the object of respect and compassion, while those who are simply trying to maintain their economic equilibrium and independence should be condemned as unpatriotic?