You know, the people who say the guy who paid a billion dollars because he had 10, he has still got $9 billion left, that’s not fair, we need to take more of his money. That’s called socialism.
– Dr. Ben Carson
In a recent conversation with a friend from The Netherlands, we broached the subject of American “socialism-ophobia.” Plainly put, we have no idea what socialism is, but we’re pretty sure it’s gunning for us. Consequently, for a large portion of our population, there is no perceived line between communitarianism and communism; any social action constitutes a socialist power grab, and any indication of caring about the well-being of our fellow citizens is but the first step down that good old slippery slope.
During Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, CNN edition, Dr. Ben Carson spent most of his air time (excluding his comments on vaccination) proving he really doesn’t have a clue about many of the subjects addressed. One of those subjects, specifically, needs further thought: the flat tax. Everybody tithes; everybody pays a flat 10% of their income each year, including the poor, who have been coddled far too long. This is the way to go, argues Carson, because God came up with it, and he’s “the fairest individual in the universe.” An individual who, out of fairness, “didn’t say if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithe or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe.” No, this individual extorts from rich and poor alike. Or does he?
Let’s talk flat tax for a moment.
First, keep in mind that Carson’s got an estimated net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth) of $10 million or so. So, the 10% tax he’s advocating would bring his IRS bill to around $1 million. If little Benny has ten million apples, and Big Government takes away one million, how many apples does little Benny have left? A whole freaking lot. Nine million of them, to be precise. And he’ll score nine million more by this time next year.
On the other hand, per Carson’s comments during the first presidential debate, if little Johnny has ten apples, and Big Government takes away one of them, how many apples does little Johnny have left? Enough to make a couple of pies. Maybe. And since he probably won’t be able to set aside any of the apples for next year, due to scarcity, even if he scores nine more by this time next year, that’ll still be all he’s got. Unlike little Benny, who had plenty of apples for eating, canning, and surviving the winter months.
To suggest that the only equitable course of action is to treat little Johnny as if he had the same amount of apples as little Benny, or that to acknowledge any disparity between the two somehow foreshadows the rise of the U.S.A.S.R. is not only unfair, it’s just plain bad math. Apparently all the work we did with percentages and ratios in grade and high school eluded little Benny. I’m sure the man is a brilliant surgeon, but he seems unable to count. And completely clueless as to what socialism is.
It is NOT socialism to recognize our mutual obligation to one another, or to disincentivize greed. If the whole point of legislative activity is to compel people to act in ways they would not naturally act of their own volition–if that is what laws are for–then it is not beyond the purview of the federal, state, or whatever government you like, to craft legislation aimed at counteracting our natural human tendency to hoard stuff for ourselves. On the contrary, since those governments are charged with the well-being of rich and poor alike, it is their duty to do so. Otherwise, what we end up with is not socialism; it is antisocial-ism. Don’t tread on me; it gets in the way of my treading on you.
Perhaps you noticed that the one vocal defender of the progressive tax on that dais was none other than The Donald. What are the odds of the ultimate capitalist launching a socialist takeover? I found myself liking the guy, just a little, if only because he seems to understand that the elephant in the room is prone to sitting on people. He may be filthy rich, but at least he seems to care about those who are not. This is not an endorsement of Trump for president, let me be clear; but when the only guy up there who defends the poor is the richest of them all…
Well, where’s Rod Serling when you need him?