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December 5, 2012

It's Really About Control

 

Why are those on the political right generally opposed to higher taxes on the wealthy?

The assumption of left-leaning critics and much of the media is that folks on the right are simply in cahoots with their rich paymasters. It's not that the right has a carefully constructed and defensible view of tax policy-it's just that they've been bought.

Actually, it's much simpler and less conspiratorial than that: We recognize that the wealthy perform a critical role in the economy: they invest. They provide, out of their own self-interest, the capital that a capitalist economy requires to function.

The right is not alone in recognizing the importance of investment in an economy. Left-leaning economists also understand that the economy requires investment to grow. The difference is that those on the left tend to want the government to control and direct investment in the economy under the assumption that government elites are rational while market-directed investment is chaotic.

Right-leaning economists don't think the private sector is perfect by any means-only that it does a far better, more granular and more responsive job of investing than does the government, with much faster processing of information and thus better allocation of capital.

The question is not really how much more the rich should pay, but rather: Who should direct investment in a market economy? The government or the capitalists themselves?

A government that demands ever higher taxes from the wealthy is really demanding ever greater control over the deployment of capital within the economy. "Give us the money," government says, "and we will make better use of it than you would have." Historically this impulse led to communism, under the assumption that government control of the means of production was superior to capitalist control of same.

Our options are to continue to allow free people to retain control over the deployment of their own capital, or to transfer ever more of it to government control. Today, the top 10% of taxpayers pay 71% of taxes, but because government's appetite for control is limitless, they will never pay "enough."

If we intend to maintain the American free-market system that has been the most successful in the history of the world and that has elevated the living standards of more people than any other system in history, we have to keep the "free" part. And no economic freedom is more important than the right of free people to control and direct their own capital.

It's not really about "fairness." It's about control.


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