Mero Moment: Representation Without Taxation

This week I want to talk about raising taxes. CNN reports a new poll revealing that “by a two-to-one margin, Americans want the new ‘super committee’ in Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy while avoiding cuts in entitlement programs. The survey shows that 62 percent of Americans say that taxes on wealthy people should be raised in order to fund programs for lower-income people. Only 34 percent feel the other way.”

In addition, “64 percent say that the ‘super-committee’ should not make major cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and 87 percent say the group should not raise taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans. Sixty-three percent say the ‘super committee’ should increase taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans, while 57 percent say they should make major cuts in spending on domestic government programs.”

So let me get this right. Two-thirds of the people surveyed in the CNN poll want to raise taxes on rich people; about the same number don’t want anything to happen to Social Security or Medicare; and an equal number want to increase taxes on American businesses.

All this survey tells me is that it didn’t ask me those questions or anyone I know.

American tax policy began largely on the premise that taxation required representation that England had not afforded the settlers. Today, I think we have an opposite problem. Today, I think we have representation without taxation and I wonder why taxpaying Americans allow non-taxpaying Americans to dictate tax policy. Several analyses report that America now has more non-taxpayers than taxpayers – and I suppose that applies to big corporations such as General Electric as it does citizens on public welfare.

Now billionaire Warren Buffett is encouraging his “mega-rich” friends to pay more taxes. Is this what happens when you become a billionaire – you lose all sense of reality? Or is this just what happens when, as a young billionaire in the making, you make money and invest wisely but, as an old billionaire, you feel guilty about it. Warren Buffett is rich, but he’s also the last guy whose conscience you want to listen to. If he feels that guilty about his unearned-equity wealth, give it all to the government. Just shut up.

I don’t like being dire, or telling people the sky is falling when it’s not, but folks, America’s tax and spending policies are broken. The democratic system we rely upon is corrupting and only political courage will fix this mess. While I understand why a broken system would call upon a few representatives in Congress to create a “super committee,” that’s hardly a solution for a great country such as this.

The real solution is political courage – from everyone, not just elected officials but especially from everyone who benefits from government redistributing wealth, from big business to the little guy.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero.