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The Audacity of Wealth: How Leftist Thugs Claim Your Money

Posted on May 9 2011 8:00 am
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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The first rule of extortion is, you don’t call it extortion. When thugs come around to collect, they don’t act like they’re taking your money, they act like they’re claiming theirs. They treat you as if you stole from them, and they’ve come to set things right. It’s a psychological assault employed by all tyrants. What’s yours is mine. You keep what I allow, and should thank me for the privilege.

That same thuggish sentiment underlies our government budget debates. The Left has skillfully established the premise that the state owns all wealth, and lets us have some of it. Acceptance of this notion enables the Left to sit in judgment of what individuals spend their money on, and whether that money would be better spent elsewhere.

Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant provides an effective example.  Under the current federal tax code, yachts with certain amenities qualify as second-homes, making them eligible for the same mortgage interest deduction a taxpayer would receive for a house. Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) has introduced a bill which would disallow that deduction. From Walz’s perspective, it’s a no-brainer.

We’re going to have to make some hard decisions to tackle our national debt, but this isn’t one of them. Closing this tax loophole restores the Mortgage Interest Deduction to its original purpose: helping middle-class families realize the American Dream through home ownership.

Sturdevant concurs, and appeals to Minnesota state legislators to make a similar effort.

You’d do well to start scouring the state tax code for the Minnesota equivalents of yacht subsidies. Look for the breaks embedded in the tax code that benefit people who don’t need taxpayer assistance, and root ’em out.

Note the language. Studevant refers to tax deductions as “subsidies.” Walz calls them “special interest tax giveaways.” Like any good extortionist, they inverse ownership right off the bat. You don’t own your money. The state does. You keep what they allow, and should thank them for the privilege.

The trap here is conceding to debate the issue as framed, arguing whether the wealthy should keep their yacht deduction. Debating that point misses the larger one. What we should contest is the fundamental premise which informs our current tax system. Why do we tax income? Why are there deductions of any kind? Sturdevant states the answer succinctly with the phrase “taxpayer assistance.” That’s what a progressive income tax is all about, wealth redistribution.

A [Democratic] governor who wants to shift the state tax burden toward upper-income earners should appreciate how doing away with tax breaks could achieve that goal.

Republican legislators who want to avoid raising tax rates and dream of even reducing them in a deficit year should see that eliminating tax breaks might make that possible.

And all who care about getting the most public good from the public purse shouldn’t think only about how the purse is spent.

They should think about what’s being withheld from that purse, and for what reason. They should ask whether the withholding is buying a public good, or a private yacht.

That’s the notion which ought to offend us, not rich people spending their own money. Much of our political discourse proceeds from the premise that there is a collective right to seize what individuals make, based on a comparative analysis of how it might be used. We may question how other people spend their money, subject their personal decisions to our judgment, and confiscate their wealth if we can rationalize a better way to spend it.

We should be debating that premise, not a particular policy informed by it. It’s the difference between haggling with extortionists over the terms of their “protection” and standing up to their tyranny outright.


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