Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Which Sally Kohn Completely Whiffs

On FoxNews.com today, Sally Kohn has a piece in which she espouses support for Barack Obama's "You didn't do that," comment.  It deserves some deconstruction:

First, this pair of statements:
"But there were things that helped my grandfather’s business that he didn’t have to pay for."
"...my grandfather paid almost 50% of his income in taxes to help make sure that good public schools and safe streets and the things we all need to succeed in America would be available for the next generation."

Ms. Kohn, don't you understand that the second refutes the first?  He did have to pay for those things- through his taxes.  He didn't "owe" anyone anything for their use, because he'd already paid for it.  No more do I "owe" Dell anything for the computer I'm using to write this: the computer has already been paid for.  You only "owe" someone for something when they've provided you a good or service for which you have not compensated them.  I couldn't work without this computer, or a mouse, or internet service.  I pay for all of them and therefore "owe" nothing for them.

"Today, hedge fund managers and big business CEOs pay lower tax rates than middle class families."

This is a fallacy you hear repeated quite often, and it needs to be refuted every time.  Big Business CEOs usually pay greater than 50% of their salary when local, state, and federal taxes are considered.  Just like your grandfather, Ms. Kohn.  You refer to the fact that many of the uber-rich subsist without a salary income, and live only on the interest from previous investments: thus, they pay a lower "capital gains" tax rate.  However, you miss two things: one, that money was taxed before it was invested and two, there is no guarantee that such investments will make money in any given year.  Yes, some investments are highly secure, but none that provide enough interest to be worth discussing are guaranteed.  Further, there is the fact that you would further harm businesses by increasing the capital gains rate.  People invest in businesses, especially new businesses, to earn a profit.  If the government makes that more difficult, fewer people will be able to invest, and those who still can will be less willing to do so.

Finally (and then go read the whole thing to point, and laugh, and mock)
"The president was clear:  We succeed because of our individual initiative but also because of the public investments that help springboard that success."

This is utter Marxist bovine defecation.  If the government was so instrumental in success, does it not then also get some of the blame for the (approximated 90%) of new business failures?  Of course not, and this goes back to the first point.  My taxes paid for those things.  There is no such thing as a "public investment."  First off, investments see returns, and nothing paid for by the government ever sees a positive return.  Secondly, "the public" is not an entity that can do anything.  To try, via slight of hand, to suggest it can is pure Marxist Collectivism.  The truth is that the Government does organize some things, and pays for them with your and my tax dollars.  Or, with funny money printed by the US Treasury- which is considerably worse.

In fact, when you begin to add in government bureaucracy, regulations, business taxes, and so forth, any business which succeeds does so in spite of government, not because of it.

Oh, and just to be clear- the Government didn't always build roads or schools.  Certainly major thoroughfare roads (like US Highways and the Interstate Highway System), and government run schools are actually fairly recent inventions in human history.  Many roads were built with private funds, and most schools were run by private (mostly Religious) institutions.  Did Ben Franklin owe his success to Government?  Certainly not.  If the Government weren't building the roads, someone would be.  And I'd have to pay for their use just like I do for those "provided" by the Government.

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