Are the ‘Less Fortunate’ Less Fortunate?

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In his front-page-of-the-business-section “Economic Scene” column in The New York Times last week, Eduardo Porter wrote, “The United States does less than other rich countries to transfer income from the affluent to the less fortunate.”

Think about that sentence for a moment. It ends oddly. Logic dictates that it should have said, “transfer income from the affluent to the less affluent,” not the less fortunate.

But for Porter, as for the left generally, those who are not affluent are not merely “less affluent,” they are “less fortunate.”

Why is this? Why is the leftist division almost always between the “affluent” and the “less fortunate” or between the “more fortunate” and the “less fortunate”?

To understand the left, one must understand that in its view the greatest evil is material inequality. The left is more troubled by economic inequality than by evil, as humanity has generally understood the term. The leftist divides the world not between good and evil but rich and poor.

Because inequality is the chief moral concern of the left, the words “less affluent” or even “poorer” do not meet the left’s moral needs. It needs to believe, and to have others believe, that what separates economic classes is not merely how much material wealth members of each class have. Rather, it is the amount of good and bad luck — “fortune,” as the left puts it — that each class has.

This is how the left justifies high taxes. Isn’t it only fair and moral that as much money as possible be taken from the lucky and given to the unlucky? After all, the affluent didn’t achieve affluence through harder work, but through greater luck.

To acknowledge that most of America’s affluent (meaning those who earn over $200,000) have attained their affluence through hard work is to undermine the fairness issue at the core of the left’s understanding of economic inequality and justification for confiscatory taxes.

For the left, affluence is won, not earned.

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  • Alexander Gofen

    The Marxist scum simply exploits one particular temptation proper to the humanity.

    This is a temptation to be a freeloader, an eternal sin of the humanity. However only during the industrial era the productivity rose so high, that the Western nations became capable to support a significant part of their population which never works – and indoctrinate them as though they were entitled to something.

    These relatively new type of citizenry emerged due to grotesquely generous entitlements of the government. The Western governments are incapable and unwilling to zip their wallets. They just zealously placate the unproductive class – the citizenry which completely lost the work ethic and spiritual foundation proper to American citizenry prior to ascend of Marxism.

  • kafir4life

    They can call it whatever they'd like…..Susan for all I care, but the truth is simple. The left is just lazy. I had a lazy non-working person before the 2008 election actually ask me, "What did McCain say he was going to do for you"? I explained all I wanted the president to do was to keep the f**k out of my way. This person (leftie to the max) EXPECTED the gov't to take care of her. Anytime taxing the successful came up, the answer was ALWAYS "Well they can afford it". When asked "why don't you work", the answer (I kid you not) was and incredulous sounding "I didn't want to". I think that 100% of leftoids are exactly like that. Lazy useless wastes of skin.

  • Schlomotion

    A blogger said something dumb about the economy. Fortunately, another blogger corrected the first blogger before the American economy could spiral out of control.

  • StephenD

    Until those that take a chunk out of Free America are politically neutered this will only get worse. If you can get a base of voters to continue to support you with ever increasing numbers as you promise them more entitlements with necessarily increasing taxes (Which they will never pay anyway so it doesn’t bother them to know taxes will rise), you have a winning formula for elections. The problem is that, as in any household, if you don’t pay in you should have no say on how it is spent. Therefore, restrict voting privileges to those that pay in to the tax base. Immediately, all elected officials will change their perspective and start watching the nations purse strings. We’d have a sound financial future in no time.

    • fiddler

      This is living in a fools paradise; the inevitable destination of a nanny state mentality. You can have something for free, because you are downtrodden. It is a disease of the mind; a mental anomoly. Even children can see the naked truth that if someone is told they can't make it, they should ask WHY NOT? This is the de-nuding of the spirit where people surrender to a herd mentality. Desperately sad; but it is SO useful for elections. I think I feel ill.

    • fiddler

      "Therefore, restrict voting privileges to those that pay in to the tax base."

      This is utterly anathema to the left. They will start screaming "disenfrancisement" and start to wax "patriotic"; lecturing all of us on fundimental rights. An informed public, taking ownership of its countries enconomic situation is what they fear most. "SURRENDER to us!' they say.

      I sometimes wonder if these elitists expect worship from those they govern.

      • aspacia

        The Jim Crow South did this to blacks. The literacy test blacks had to pass in order to vote was difficult if not impossible to pass.

        Also, have you ever been unemployed. Your argument would indeed disenfranchise many citizens.

  • Bartimaeus

    Interesting article. The leftist/Marxist view of man is totally flawed. Having rejected the traditional Judeo-Christian view of the nature of man the have taken up a superficial view that cannot lead to a better life for all. What the leftist really needs is repentance. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

  • "gunner"

    i suppose the leftists would call me one of the "less fortunate", but i own my house and its small piece of land, and when i want a car i'll find the means to buy one from my own resources. i don't hate and envy "the rich", i worked and earned what i have, and in the evening of my life i am content. i'll leave the hate and envy to those who believe in the government "good luck fairy" as the source of all good things.

  • JakeTobias

    Beautiful Dennis.

    Though I do have to say, the rich help create this impression they are lucky. I have read books by the rich, and about the rich. And while they emphasize hard work, they also talk about luck. And often from a religious, or mystical, point of view. In fact, they often go further that that, and say good luck brings more good luck. And it doesn't help when they say, they want to start "giving back." As if they "took" something from people, instead of earning it. How important such language is, I am not sure. Myself, I often feel lucky, or fortunate, to have been born in America.

    And I can tell you one thing that contributes to idleness besides laziness, and that's not knowing what to do next, once one is productive. Once you get somewhere, one of the hardest questions to answer is, "what's next?" Without an answer, civilizations rise or fall Or at the very least, the individual.

  • fiddler

    Key point: "For the left, affluence is won, not earned."

    This is the very thrust behind unions for example. Once people are indoctrinated into their "entitlement" way of thinking, where you can do marginal "work" and still expect tenure, and higher pay, the person has crossed the line. For them they have given up on their own ability to make it on their own, to take risk, to envent something someone else needs, whatever, and resigned themselves to their "hopeless" fate. They attach their wagon to the POWER collective and are seemly glad to surrender their fought for freedom to union bosses (e.g. Krupta) in exchange for a modicum of ease.

    Hey they make loyal voters; that is the exchange.

    • fiddler

      Invent, not envent, (sorry).

    • aspacia

      You have no idea of how unprofessional some administrators are, NONE. If ticked at a teacher, they will remove the teacher's desk, or perhaps make them move from class to class every period, and/or deny supply requests. Then some are verbally abusive and try to intimidate. This year, I have run 4 pages, single spaces regarding two incompetent administrators, albeit, the union will do nothing. All the union is good for is negotiating wages and benefits.

  • Ghostwriter

    Recently,there was a bus strike in my city. Both the company and the union acted like spoiled children and people like me,who use the bus to get around were left in the lurch. Neither side covered themselves with much glory there.

    • Ken

      They covered themselves in something, but it was not glory. Smelled like, well, I will let you make your own conclusion what it smelled like.

  • Saltire

    This may be a place for a Wonka meme, this one might be appropriate here. "Your parents bought you an iphone, a Macbook, and a car? And they're paying for your school? Please tell me how hard your life is?"

  • aspacia


    You are correct. Most of the rich I know work 10-15 hour days minimum. In contrast, most of my unskilled working class students and family members are lazy and flat refuse to do homework.

    Guess what the new norm is? If a student earns an F that means the teachers earns an F regardless of the fact the student will not pick-up a pencil or pen and write.