In the threat initiated by my comments in support of a flat tax—which I posted under the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial Trump, Cruz and Rubio tax plans are indecent proposals—correspondent SHAPE got to the heart of the Left’s anti-economic inequality campaign:
The progressive tax system has always made our nation great. Read Outliers. People like Gates can we'll afford to pay more in taxes. It is pay back to a system of government that provides the foundation for free enterprise and a well run country. A lot of people have ability, ambition, and vision but we're not in the right place at the right time or have a connection or make the connection. [sic]
To close out this series of blog posts, I responded, with clarifying edits:
“A lot of people have ability, ambition, and vision but we're not in the right place at the right time or have a connection or make the connection.”
The premise behind this statement is at the core of the Left’s War on Achievement. That war is informed by the radical egalitarian John Rawls, who claimed that it’s all a matter of luck. That’s music to the mediocrity’s ears.
But it’s not about luck or any other advantage/disadvantage we happen to have. We all have a starting point in life, and the starting points are unequal. But you are not rewarded according to your luck or your circumstances or your connections. You are rewarded for what you make of your starting point. The fact that person “A” has a higher starting point than person “B” doesn’t take anything away from person “A”’s achievements: Person “A,” not person “B,” still did it. And what you make of your life is wholly determined by your own efforts, and how others judge the results of your efforts. Period. Plenty of college students were in the same place at the same time as Bill Gates. But plenty didn’t build Microsoft. Bill Gates built Microsoft. Rawls’s luck-based Theory of Justice is a godsend to the envious incompetents who are looking for excuses for their own failures. “I could have done that, but that guy had all the luck” is the whining of the “You didn’t build that” crowd. Honorable people don’t look at achievement that way. They take pride in what they have earned, and admire those who’ve done really well regardless of how they stack up in comparison.
No one is saying that Bill Gates shouldn’t pay taxes in accordance with what he earns. But everyone’s earnings have the same root, and should be treated fairly—in other words, equally before the [tax] law. We all need a government that ensures the foundations of free enterprise, and freedom in general. And we all should be willing to pay our fair share, not try to stick others with a higher bill so that we could get away with paying less. Rawls’s “Theory of Justice” is an attack on justice in the name of justice; and he has been thoroughly refuted by Dr. Diana Hsieh in her book “Responsibility and Luck.”
As to the ridiculous notion that “The progressive tax system has always made our nation great,” I couldn’t respond directly, since SHAPE doesn’t define “great.” To a statist, exploiting the wealth creators in proportion to their achievements may be the mark of a great nation. As for me, I believe what makes America great is that it was founded on individual rights; justice; limited rights-protecting government that acts as servant, not omnipotent ruler; and respect for production, free trade, commerce, science, and reason.
Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged—America’s Second Declaration of Independence—Onkar Ghate for The Ayn Rand Institute (or read it here.)