A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Don't Think You're Evil, I Just Think You're Wrong

I agree with the Occupy Wall Street Movement's goals.  I do think that wealth and influence in our country are becoming concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of the many.  Democracy depends on a diffusion of power, and everyone should have an equal say.  An increase in inequality also suffering and poverty, which reduces opportunities for our fellow Americans.  However, I realize that different people have different views.  I don't necessarily think that someone automatically becomes "the devil" because they don't have a problem with income inequality (this seems to be the default mode of any protest: demonize your opponents).

Similarly, I don't think that anyone who proposes flat taxes, national sales taxes, or reduction/elimination of corporate taxes is intentionally TRYING to increase income inequality or has an intentional agenda to screw the poor.  Maybe I tend to over-simplify people's motives, but I like to assume, as a starting point for rational debate, that the other side is NOT evil.  They simply have a different view of the world.  However, in the case of the ideas mentioned above, I do believe they are the wrong policy choices, and will end up increasing poverty among the 99%.  

I also want to point out that conservatives often rail high tax rates.  They seem to get riled up about the top corporate tax rate, which currently stands at 35%.  This is a red herring, because while 35% may be the "statutory rate," or the rate on the books, let me be the first to tell you, if you don't already know, that very few companies actually pay tax at that rate.  This graph shows that in terms of "effective rate" or the rate at which corporate taxes are paid compared to income, the U.S. actually has an incredibly LOW tax rate.  And let's face it, corporations should pay taxes - these companies use the roads, courts, and educated citizenry paid for with our public money.  They inure incredible benefits as a result of our government's actions, and they should be a part of paying for those benefits.   The same deal goes for the richest Americans, whose income is taxed at a statutory rate of 35% but whose effective rate is a much lower 25.8% (see here).  Again, I think that because the rich disproportionately benefit from our capitalist society, they should bear a disproportionate share of the costs.  They'll still be plenty rich, trust me.

So, I don't think the rich are evil.  I bet most of us (for varying reasons) would like to be rich some day - some of us would like to buy the biggest yacht while some of us would like to be able to give it all away to worthy causes.  Let's not demonize those who disagree with us, let's just listen to each other.  I believe progressive taxation is the right way to make sure the disadvantaged and poor don't live a life of grinding poverty simply because they're unlucky.  If you don't agree, then I think you're wrong, but you're not Hitler.


  1. I also sympathize with the goals of the "Occupy" movement. The wealth inequality in this country is as great as it has been since the Roaring '20s! The top 1% controls 1/3 of America's wealth while the top 20% controls 2/3. America ranks really high on the global index for household income inequality, right up there with Bulgaria and Cameroon.

    This is a great blog! I'm glad I came across it. I'm also an active Latter-Day Saint and a Democrat; I'm running a blog as well on the same general topic- being a progressive and an active Mormon: http://mormonprogressive.blogspot.com/

    Would you mind if I link your blog to mine? I've been searching for other LDS-Dems blogs with the aim of compiling a good list on my blog.

  2. Aaron, feel free to link to my blog. When were you President of the College Dems at BYU? Just wondering if it was during my years there (2001-2004, 2006-2008).

  3. Thank you- I just linked it. I was president of the BYU Dems during Winter semester 2003 (my last semester at BYU), but was involved with the club the semester before as well. Were you involved with the BYU Dems back then? My memory of my last semester is a bit foggy so I apologize if you were in the club back then and I've forgotten your name!

  4. Aaron, I was in the club and I think I vaguely remember you, but my memory's fuzzy. Best of luck with your blog - I'm going to enjoy adding it to my reading list!