Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Political Rhetoric

Thomas Sewell had a column yesterday entitled "Rhetoric rides over reason in tax debate". His purpose is to show how deceptive rhetoric is being used in the tax debate. He states that "political rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issues".

Interesting, then, to see how Mr. Sewell himself used the very type of rhetoric he so strongly denounces. He says it is wrong to talk about a tax cut, because nobody's taxes are going to be "cut". But if existing law says they will go up on January 1st, then it *is* a cut to knock them back down from what they would have been absent Congressional action.

Then he says that a second reason it is wrong to talk about "tax cuts for the rich" is that the "rich" aren't really rich. He gives the example of a family making $250,000 a year and paying $30,000 for tuition for one year. I say that anybody who can afford to pay that kind of tuition is, in fact, rich. There are billions of people on this planet who would consider themselves rich if they had a small fraction of the $250,00 a year which Sewell says is not rich. This is just American arrogance at work here.

He objects to using "giving", as in "giving the rich a tax cut", saying that the government letting people keep more of their money is not "giving" them anything. But if you accept that taxes are necessary in a society then why not use that word. It is not like the government is stealing from people, which is how Sewell paints it.

But then he goes on to say that "giving" is appropriate to use in connection with unemployment benefits. This ignores that these benefits are not welfare, but are *insurance*, i.e., employers have paid into a fund to create a safety net for the involuntarily unemployed should employees get laid off. Sewell says studies show that people stay unemployed longer when benefits are extended. Yes, there likely is some correlation there, but studies would also show that the overwhelming majority of the unemployed would rather be working.

An item Sewell does not even mention is that one of the votes would have axed the tax cut for those making over a million a year. If $250,000 is not rich, would Sewell consider a million a year rich? The Republicans voted even against this, and they should be held accountable for their pandering to the rich in this shameless manner.

Sewell again missteps when he says that it is "liberals" who want to raise taxes on the rich. I say that any true conservative would agree that cutting taxes on the rich is not adviseable when the deficit is so huge. Nobody is more conservative than David Stockman, who served in the Reagan administration. And Stockman recently spoke out and said it is totally irresponsible to talk about cutting taxes when the deficit is out of control like it is. We are, in fact, careening toward bankruptcy, and our once-great country is on the ropes.

It is interesting to go back and read the writings and speeches by the founders and the early presidents. What you find is that they used the word "posterity" over and over. These people cared about the future, and took pains to leave their children a better country than they themselves had experienced. Now anybody who cares about posterity is a voice crying in the wilderness, with nobody listening. Instant gratification right now, and to hell with the consequences. That attitude is leading us right into the toilet.

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