The Fuzzy Math of 1%-99%

Falsifying the numbers.

President Obama came to office on a promise of unifying America.  He still likes to pretend that he’s interested in the fate of all Americans.  In late October, while travelling on his “non-campaign” bus campaign for re-election, he said,

A number of people have been asking during the course of this road trip, "Why have you been visiting some of the most Republican parts of North Carolina and Virginia?" And what I've had to remind them is that I'm not the Democratic president. I'm not the Republican president. I'm the president of the United States of America, and I don't care what party you belong to. We're all Americans, and we're all in this together.

Except for the 1%.  President Obama has also expressed admiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is an almost random agglomeration of leftist causes, all unified by a simple theme: 99% of Americans vs. the top 1% of income earners.

But this is a false dichotomy, of course.  The top 1% of income earners in the United States pull down at least $344,000 in adjusted gross income every year, earn just under 17% of the total income of the country, and pay almost 37% of all taxes.  The top 5% of income earners make at least $155,000 and pay 59% of all taxes.  The top 10% of income earners make at least $112,000 and pay over 70% of all taxes.

So, where would you draw the line between Americans, separating the good ones from the bad?  It makes no sense to draw it at 1%, since those who make $344,000 are closer to those who make $343,000 than those who make $1 million every year.

If income doesn’t work, should taxation be the standard?  Many conservatives have suggested that the line between Americans should be drawn at 53% and 47% -- 53% of Americans pay taxes and the rest don’t—although they tend to vote for higher taxes on those who do pay.

The important point here is that these percentages are changeable.  By separating Americans along any percentage lines, we cut out people we could possibly reach.  Aside from Americans who are ideological layabouts – the actual Mr. EBTs of the world – most Americans want to work.  They want a job.  They want to raise their families.  And they simply want the government to allow them to do it in the most efficient possible way.  They simply have to learn what it is that will allow them to achieve their goals.  More than that, they have to learn what will allow them to achieve their goals morally.  On that score, Republicans have done a poor job.

The fact is that Republicans have not explained on the basis of values why capitalism is a good thing.  All too often, conservatives say of communism that it is a beautiful concept that is evil in practice.  The fact is that communism and socialism are nasty concepts, denying the possibility of human freedom and suggesting that we are all owed something by virtue of our existence.  The human potential lies in the ability to create; if we do not create, we do not fulfill that potential.  Communism and socialism are dedicating to crushing that potential, since they destroy the need to create.

Nothing good for mankind has been produced under the Castro regime.  That is no coincidence.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  While under Castro, you may receive a pitiful sustenance, guaranteed, you must do nothing to receive it.  Under capitalism, if you do not create something that serves others, you starve.  This sounds unpleasant.  In reality, it is what raises us above the animals.  It channels our survival instinct into serving others, whereas communism and socialism channel our survival instinct into stealing from others.

Down deep, even the Occupy folks know this.  That’s why they protest when the police take away their tents, scoff when people ask them to give away their products for free, cry when their property is stolen.  Stealing is immoral, and the essence of communism and socialism is stealing.  Stealing enriches no one – even the thief – once it is made the categorical imperative.  When everyone is busy stealing, there is no one left to create.

Let’s stop dividing ourselves by percentages.  Let’s come together around the individual rather than the group.  Individual rights and freedoms are the only concepts that stand between us and the abyss.  Until all Americans understand that, our divisions will threaten to consume us.

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