Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Partiers Tax Hypocrites?

I recently highlighted an article that said 47% of Americans don't pay income taxes. At least one person took this fact and labeled the Tea Party folks hypocrites. Why?

By this person's "logic," if 47% of Americans aren't paying income taxes, at least 47% of the Tea Partiers aren't. So they're receiving more benefit from the federal government than they're paying in taxes — for example, they pay $1 in taxes and get $1.50 in benefits. They're benefiting from the government's redistribution of wealth and complaining about it at the same time.

Let's say that's accurate. How do we respond?

1) The US government spends much more than it takes in. Technically everyone gets more "benefit" than they pay in taxes. This will continue right up to the point where the federal government implodes (i.e., no one will lend them any more money).

2) Implosion or not, eventually we're all going to have to help pay that money back. Us, our kids, and their kids.

3) For this to be anything like hypocrisy, you'd need to be applying for some government benefit. Your state getting money for roads or schools isn't up to you. It's a passive benefit. These folks probably aren't actively seeking benefits.

4) Even if they are, our alleged benefiting from this government policy doesn't make it right.

This argument makes as much sense as a teenager watching his parents spend themselves into the poorhouse. Why should he care as long as he's getting new shoes, phones, ipods, and whatever else he wants?

How about because he cares about his family's financial situation? How about because he doesn't want his parents to ruin themselves? How about because he knows if this continues his family will get their house, cars, and boat taken away?

Enlightened self-interest? Nothing wrong with that.

Agree with them or not, the Tea Partiers are not hypocrites; they're concerned citizens.

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