Imagine going to the grocery store and noting that all the price tags have been changed. Instead of showing how much each item costs in plain dollars and cents, the new tags show a percentage. Perplexed, you track down a manager to ask what gives.
The answer: That’s what percentage of your income you must pay for each item.
That would be an outrage, would it not? After all, why should your income affect what you pay for produce? Yet that is precisely how we charge taxpayers for services provided by government.
In Minnesota, residents rushing to postmark last minute tax forms will be subjected to a leaflet campaign organized by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), aided by volunteers from the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO). These government unions will be chanting their tiresome old manta – soak the rich. The narrative was presented in a recent email to IFO members by their Director of Government Relations, Russ Stanton.
AFSCME is planning a leafleting campaign at post offices on Tax Day—April 18th. The purpose is to draw attention to the fact that the wealthiest Minnesotans pay a significantly smaller percentage of their income in state and local taxes than middle income taxpayers, and they should therefore be asked to shoulder some of the state budget deficit. This action is timed to impact the budget debates at the Capital.
Attached to that email is another from AFSCME Public Relations Director Jennifer Munt. Her call to action is revealing.
Don’t let the Tea Party own Tax Day this year.
The Left intends to craft their own Tax Day narrative. The rich are paying less than you are. That’s why there is a deficit. Demand they pay more.
In truth, the rich are paying far more in taxes than anyone else. The perception that they are paying less is created by looking at taxes as a percentage of income rather than dollars and cents. Why should we be shocked or dismayed that people with lower incomes pay a higher percentage of that income in taxes? Here’s a newsflash: they also pay a higher percentage of their income for bread, milk, gas, and everything else. When you have less money, it takes a higher percentage of it to purchase anything. $10 out of $100 is a higher percentage than $10 out of $1000. Does that mean the guy with $1000 should be paying $100 for something worth $10?
It does if you’re the AFSCME or the IFO. Their standard of “fairness,” if applied universally, would translate to progressive income-based pricing for everything. Such a scheme would undermine the function of price, effectively give away everything, and remove all incentive to produce.
This is not how we ought to finance government. Fortunately, the Left’s continuation of the same tired narrative presents the public with a clear choice. We can either maintain the status quo, and haggle over how fast to propel ourselves off a fiscal cliff. Or, we can change course by re-evaluating both the role of government and how it handles our money.