6.05.2006

Idiot of the Day

Maybe Idiot of the Week would be a less ambitious way to do this; if I adopted a policy of trying to do it weekly, though, I might lapse into monthly, then yearly, and God knows there are enough idiots to find 365 in a year. Anyway, onto the idiot: Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post, whose borderline hysteria-induced ravings can be found in their entirety here, which I will quote extensively for those of you who don't like to click the links. He starts out in the classic liberal "if you don't agree with me you're an idiot" manner(which should only really be employed by snarky bloggers):

It doesn't matter if you are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican.
There is no possible excuse for doing what Congress is poised to do this
week:
Abolish the estate tax.


No possible excuse? We'll see about that one, Sebastian. Next, he explains that our government's situation is precarious already, chock full of mounting deficit and even more projected spending for the future. Even worse than looming economic disaster, our country is Marx's worst nightmare:

Since 1980 the gap between the earnings of the top fifth and
the bottom fifth has jumped by almost 50 percent. The United States is by some
measures the most unequal society in the rich world and the most unequal that
it's been since the 1920s. What is the dumbest possible response to this?
Identify the most progressive federal tax and repeal it. The nation faces the prospect that inequality will damage meritocracy.When the distance between top and bottom widens, it becomes harder to traverse the gap; people of low birth are stuck at the bottom, and human talent is wasted.

He has revealed to us what liberals mean when they say progressive: socialist. Let's begin with the assumption that inequality of wealth somehow runs contrary to meritocracy (which, I might add, it a terrible term for what we're dealing with here; the -cracy part refers to ruling). Isn't it possible that in some, if not most situations, wealth is a direct result of talent and/or hard work with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure?

The United States is supposed to be a country that values
individuals for their inherent worth, not for their inherited worth. The estate
tax, like a cigarette tax or a carbon tax, is a tool for reducing a socially
damaging phenomenon -- the emergence of a hereditary upper class -- as well as a
way of raising money.

Funny, I must have missed that part of the Constitution. Valuing someone's inherent worth is not the same as saying that we need to punish the rich by taxing their income twice (or even three times, as would be the case if they earned the money then invested it and received dividends, then tried to pass it along to their children when they died). And who said that being rich was socially damaging? If I'm not mistaken, the Rockefeller Center was not payed for by the bums who sleep on benches around the city, but by the man who got incredibly rich and then engaged in tons of philanthropy (which sounds a little bit dirty if you say it out loud).

If the abolitionists succeed, some other tax will eventually
be raised to make up for the lost revenue. So which tax does Congress favor? The
income tax, which discourages work? A consumption tax, which hits the poor
hardest? The payroll tax, which is both anti-work and anti-poor? Really, which
other tax out there is better?

Well, we could consider cutting spending....nah, that's just too crazy. Seriously, maybe if we didn't have a government commision, department, center, or subsidy for everything, we could cut a whole lot more than just the estate tax. Now,this may be the first time I've ever seen a liberal actually admit that our income tax discourages work, but notice how he avoids mentioning that the estate tax also penalizes you for working hard, it just waits until you die. And I love how quickly he writes off the consumption tax, which is far more viable than he is obviously willing to give it credit for.

Most people just don't know that, under the law's current
provisions, a couple can bequeath $4 million without paying a penny to the
government.

To be fair, they've already payed taxes on it, as I already pointed out. And why are we starting from the assumption that they owe part of their (already taxed) fortune to the government. If you want to start a discussion about meritocracy, let's say that from now on, only government programs that can prove their worth get our money. Finally, his conclusion (I can almost see him tearing at his hair as he writes, distraught that those damn rich people are actually going to get to keep their own money):

Repealing the estate tax is like erecting protectionist
barriers around the hereditary elite. It is anti-meritocratic and unfair -- and
antithetical to this nation's best traditions.


He seems to assume that there is only so much wealth to go around, and if the rich get to keep it, then no one else will ever get any. The quintessentially American Horatio Alger stories were written about men who pulled themselves out of poverty with hard work and talent, not about Uncle Sam doling out entitlement programs. His whining about the unfairness makes him sound like a kid on a playground crying to his mom because the other kid has built a bigger mud pie and won't give him a slice. And I might also point out that our Founding Fathers were largely of the "hereditary elite", so I doubt they would be too concerned that the wealthy are being allowed to hold on to what they've earned. Sebastian, not only is your argument lacking in any kind of logic or fact, your tone brings makes me think I shouldbe pulling out the smelling salts before you collapse entirely into hysterics (though I may be too late). I'll tell you what's unfair: that you get paid to write this drivel.
-The Quartermaster

2 Comments:

  • "Well, we could consider cutting spending....nah, that's just too crazy." - hmm, lets see, what is the greatest cost we have today, could it be the war in Iraq? If you support the amount of spending for the Iraq war, then please do not whine about government spending, because we could consider cutting spending on the war...but nah, thats just too fucking crazy!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM  

  • Anonymous, if the Bush administration has been a poor steward of the values to which Republicans nominally ascribe, at least the Republicans' core ideals dont advocate hemmhoraging money on welfare. Do you honestly believe that more money has been lost in the Iraq war, (which i do support), than has been lost over years of welfare spending by liberals? Republican legislatures, with the exception of the early Bush administration, are much more frugal and practical with government spending, as we saw under the Clinton administration. Don't even try to contend that Republicans are the ones who are infamous for going through a federal budget faster than France can surrender.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:40 PM  

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