Monday, December 06, 2010

So Easy to Check

Once upon a time in the land before Internet, there were the pseudo-intellectuals who could stand in discussion and ponderously pontificate on what history was like and what the Founding Fathers thought. Now, meta-search systems like Google, Bing and a host of others make it incredibly easy to find out the facts when something simply sounds unbelievable.

I just had a perfect example on Facebook. Someone had noted that the whole purpose of this current debate on Capitol Hill regarding the January 1 tax increases on the "wealthy" was little more than an extension of the belief that government somehow has the right to determine when an individual has become too successful. They are then, under that belief, obligated to take the fruits of that individual's labor away and distribute it to the less fortunate.

That's pretty much the way I see it. But then someone piped in and noted that Hamilton and Jefferson were redistributionists at their core. Yes, he averred, Jefferson favored a stiff inheritance tax to balance things out. That struck me as decidedly out of character as I recall my reading about Jefferson.

So, I simply Googled "Jefferson on taxes" and got this pithy quote:

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father has acquired too much, in order to spare to others who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." 
That seems pretty anti-tax to me.

Hamilton, on the other hand, was the money man and not the liberty advocate that Jefferson was. Still, Hamilton appears very aware that it is necessary for ALL to participate in the funding of the proper services of their government.
“They [taxes] will in the end be borne by all classes; yet it is of the greatest importance that no one should sink under the immediate pressure. The great art is to distribute the public burdens well and not suffer them, either first, or last, to fall too heavily upon parts of the community; else distress and disorder must ensue. A shock given to any part of the political machine vibrates through the whole.” 
When we have morphed our tax structure into a system in which 46% pay zero federal income tax and 2% of the society pays 40% of the federal tax revenue, we can probably conclude that the great art which Hamilton sought has been abandoned and the shock to the political machine is currently vibrating.

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