Brad Miller

Do the Rich Pay their fair share? A look at the dangerous premise behind this question.

In True nature of the State on August 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Today the president and the pundits are calling for the so-called “Rich” to “pay” their fair share. The Authoritarian’s logic is that the “Rich” are more fortunate than others and have been “blessed” so in turn they should pay more in taxes to benefit those who are not.

The very concept that we “pay” taxes to begin with like we “pay” for lunch at Chick-fil is laughable. I am not forced to eat at Chick-fil-a (I don’t have to be their chicken is delicious) but the government forces me and you to “pay” taxes.

Beyond the rhetoric of class warfare there is a basic premise that is the foundation on which the question  of “do the “rich” pay their fair share?” is built upon.

The basic premise behind this question is the same idea that all other collectivist ideologies are based upon. It is the belief that individuals do not have a God-given right to their Life, Liberty and Property. It is the same idea that spawned the Russian Revolution of 1917 and enslaved a nation of millions under decades of degradation, murder and fear.

I’m currently reading “We the Living” by Ayn Rand. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I’m about half way through and I actually like it better than Atlas Shrugged. It according to Rand is her most autobiographical novel. It has a very personal tone to it and the characters seem more alive and real than the one’s in Shrugged.

What struck me about the book is the conditions in which Kira the hero of the book lived in. The story begins with her and her family returning back to Petrograd Russia after a long exile due to the Revolution of 1917. When they return her father’s textile factory that he owned as well as their home, and everything they had been taken by the State and redistributed among the proletarians. Her father did not accumulate his wealth by force or fraud. But it didn’t matter to the communists because  he was “bourgeoise” and he like all capitalists were  the enemy of the proletarians.

In the novel Kira an 18-year-old free-thinker who believes in her own individuality and her own happiness. She endures the privations forced upon her with the hope of one day escaping the Oppressive state. In one poignant scene she is invited to a rare party in Petrograd during winter.  Along with the invitation the hostess asks her to bring something. Normally you would think wine or food would be an appropriate contribution to the festivities.  That was not the case in post revolutionary Soviet Russia. The hostess throwing the party asked each guest to bring a  log for the fire. Firewood was so scarce that in order to heat the additional rooms for the party the hostess had to ask each of the  guests for wood. This is the world that Kira desperately wanted to escape from and a world that this country is rapidly heading toward.  

This was not more than a hundred years ago. How would people today feel if they went to a party and had to bring firewood!?

“We The Living” is full of descriptions of privation and confiscation caused by the communist vision of Utopia. Many of the events depicting the suffering that normal individuals and families endured  will  shock the modern reader. But what  shocks me more than the living  conditions of Kira and her family under the  young Soviet regime is that  the same ideology that led to revolution and the collectivization of Russia is becoming so advanced that individuals don’t even blink when a politician asks “Are the Rich really paying their fair share.”

The more the ideas based upon the basic premise that individuals do not have individual Natural Rights the more actions will take place in this country to violate them.

Leo, Kira’s lover  in “We the Living” is young man who loves freedom and wants to escape the communist regime. He attempts early in the novel to escape with Kira but the attempt is thwarted. Now stuck back in the bleak world of the worker’s paradise he must work until he can try to escape again.  He returned to work translating books from French and German to Russian, but that employment ended as soon as he declined a “voluntary” assignment his boss offered him to do after work.  He declined the offer to teach foreign language classes with no compensation after work and told his boss that he had a life to live. Needless to say the next day he was fired. The volunteering was not volunteering at all.  He . He tried to get work after that but he was told when he went for interviews that he could not work unless he joined a union, but when he went to join the union  he was told he must have a job in order to join. Arbitrary power is a hallmark of the Totalitarian State is used to destroy anyone who threatens it by not “believing” it is god.

“Social Duty Comes Before All”

 The phrase “Proletarians of the world unite” is said by the communists leaders and written across posters and banners throughout “We the Living”. This was a slogan that denied the individual and enshrined the collective. What makes it scary is that a prominent union leader in this country as recently as last year said that the phrase “workers of the world unite was no longer just a phrase”. And this gentlemen was a frequent guest of the president in the White House.  How can we expect a different outcome of this ideology in America?

One  recurring theme in “We The Living” is that there is never enough of even the basic staples for subsistence. The State controls production and how that production is distributed.  There is not much variety in the food made available by the State and what is rationed out is of low quality and sometimes even rotten. What makes it worse is that most citizens have to wait in line for hours for their meager rations from their local Co-operative. In order to even work each citizen must  kowtow to the State in order to gain employment. And if they don’t share the official ideology they are barred from it.  Individuals have to get permission to move, to travel, to go to school,to work, and basically get written permission from the State to even live. 

Americans do not yet suffer like those who lived under the Soviet system did, at least not yet. The reason for the prosperity of millions of Americans is that  because for the last 222 years individuals in America have  been basically secure in their Life, Liberty and Property. This is of course is rapidly changing as the collectivist ideology gains ground. But it does not undermine the basic truth proved by the experiments in self-government  in America and proven by the antithesis of Freedom in  Totalitarian  Soviet Russia that when people are free to work, invest, invent, and consume as they see fit amazing material wealth is created. But as the idea of the inalienable right of each individual,  including the rich individual, to their Life, Liberty and Property is lost the result will be a society that shares more similarities to the Soviet system than America we know today.

The revolution against the Bourgeoise in Russia destroyed that country. People lived under misery while the Politicians resorted to spies, gulags, and torture to “convince” them that a brighter future lay ahead if only they will endure their current suffering. But their suffering continued, the oppression and loss of freedom increased and their standard of living plummeted.

How can we be heading down the same path that produced the totalitarian state of Soviet Russia? It is because those who love freedom in this country have not sufficiently understood or defended the basic premise it is based upon.

“The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended” Bastiat

Most pundits who defend the free market  in the media miss the point completely when it comes to question “Do the Rich pay their fare share?”  They argue that the Rich are the job creators and that  their taxes should not be increased because of that. That is a true statement but it is not the reason why the “rich” or anyone else should submit to having their property stolen. That is the point that those who Love Liberty must be able to articulate. 

The basic premise that underlies the Freedom Philosophy is that each individual has an inalienable right to his Life, Liberty and Property no matter if he is “rich” or not.  And because of that no State or collection of individuals  can  violate the inherent rights of another. 

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” George Mason Virginian Declaration of Rights

When someone says that “the Rich should pay their fair share”, ask them a question proffered in the foreword of “We the Living”:

” Do you consider it moral to treat men as sacrificial animals and to rule them by force?” That is the question all people who support the idea of “soaking the rich” should be made to answer.

 Ayn Rand said that the theme of “We the Living” was not dependent on the location of post revolutionary Russia. The story illuminates the true nature of the  totalitarian  philosophy and it matters not what country or what century this despicable evil happens to find expression. It is a great book that uses fiction to further the  understanding of Freedom and provides concrete examples of what happens when Freedom is destroyed. 

And That’s my Take

Bastiat1776

AdvocateofLiberty

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