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The Fiscal Times: Opinion: Mark Thoma: Are Calls For Income Redistribution Based on Envy or Justice?
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
Wealth or income redistribution, it depends on how you define it because government at all levels does it all the time everyday. And generally when government redistributes wealth it is noncontroversial. It taxes these people who live here to fund a school or fix a road over here. Social Security taxes today's workers to pay for today's retirees. So for anyone who says they are against wealth redistribution they should also explain how they feel about public education and roads and so forth. Things that the public uses everyday that if anything most of us tend to take for granted.
But this post is not really about noncontroversial income redistribution because where would the fun be in that. But to talk about the controversial forms of wealth redistribution at least at the hands of government. That is calls from the let's say so-called progressive-left or even socialist-left that says "the Federal Government should tax the superrich and perhaps just plain rich people. (Perhaps minorities would be excluded) To take care of Americans who aren't doing very well and perhaps people who aren't technically but have to work very hard and a lot just to pay their bills".
If you want a society that is financially free at least in the sense that it is successful and not only able to pay their bills, but set aside money for themselves and even donate to charity and perhaps look after family members and friends who may need a little extra money, that economic success simply has to be encouraged and rewarded. Instead of essentially punishing people for making it on their own and making a lot of money to take care of people who aren't successful.
Otherwise you will create a dependent society in America instead of that free society where wealth is discouraged and dependency on government in order to survive financially is encouraged. Because you are telling people whether intentionally or not that they shouldn't be successful because we the government will take a lot of that money from you. And also telling people that "if you aren't successful the wealthy will take care of you at the hands of government".
What we should be doing instead as a society especially for struggling Americans is to empower them to become successful on their own. Either by finishing their education or furthering their education. So they can get themselves the skills that they need to be successful in life. And that means reforming public education in America, making educational and job training opportunities universal for low-skilled adults. And for the college educated who now need more skills because their good job left for another country or no longer exists. And investing a lot more in infrastructure especially in underserved communities so they have the roads, schools and business's that they need to be economically successful.
You want more Americans to be doing well in America you don't discourage the Americans who are doing well already to stop being successful. What you do instead is continue to encourage people to be successful in this country. As well as empower more Americans to be successful as well.