Monday, March 4, 2013

Justice, not Need, is the Proper Standard for Government Tax Policy

This letter, written by John Caffrey of Bedminster, NJ, appeared in the 1/16/13 NJ Star-Ledger:

Tax the rich   Re “The most expensive homes in New Jersey,” (Business, Jan. 13): Nobody needs a home for $14 million. Nobody needs a home for $27 million. No one needs a home with a “motor court.” No one needs a home for $49 million.
   People do need food, clothing, medical care and shelter. So while our governor is busy reducing funds for necessary care for our poorer citizens, he is promoting tax reductions for the people who “need” multi-million dollar houses. I say progressively increase taxes on our highest earners and include all income in the mix.
I left the following comments:

John Caffrey apparently believes that need is a license to steal. But, what about justice? The issue is not; does anyone "need" a multi-million dollar house--or a $400,000 house, or new car or big-screen TV or a dinner out at Ruth's Chris Steak House? The question is, do the rich--and everyone else--have a right to spend their own earnings as they see fit?

When the premise that need, rather than justice, is the standard, then anyone with a need has a right to the wealth produced by others. This is the law of the jungle created by altruism, the predatory moral code that holds service to others as the justification for living. Economically, altruism says it is wrong to take care of yourself by your own work, but moral to prey on others--to seek the unearned, but not the earned. Politically, it means the government is the hired gun that robs your neighbor to satisfy your needs, by means of progressive income taxes and other means. And, if it is good to take from millionaires for the sake of "the needy," then it is good to take from anyone who makes more than they "need," for the sake of anyone and everyone who makes less.

The only just moral code is rational self-interest, which holds that your need is not a moral claim on others' wealth. It means respect for the rights of others, peaceful co-existence, and a willingness to say: It is right to take care of yourself, but wrong to prey on others. It means a society in which no one's need is a threat to the property of others. That's as it should be; a just society.

Caffrey may be after unearned moral prestige by championing "the needy," or perhaps he just wants a piece of unearned loot, or perhaps he is just plain envy-eaten. In any event, he is advocating a moral inversion that sacrifices success and virtue on the alter of need. This is the essential nature of Marxist communism. Until we reject altruism and embrace rational self-interest, we'll continue to slide toward economic collapse and cultural disintegration, and away from the American ideal of equal constitutional protection of everyone's individual rights, including property rights.

Caffrey's letter shows clearly the need to defend freedom morally, not just practically.

Related Reading:

The Left's Egalitarian Trap (and Why Republicans Must Not Step In)

In the Spirit of "compromise," How About a Flat Tax?

Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins

No comments: