Misused Words, Misused Government

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Although I would have loved to see Thomas Sowell ask how there can be anything "fair" about the government confiscating anything from anyone, he raised numerous good points in his recent column, "What Do You Mean 'The Rich' Don't Pay Their 'Fair Share'?:"

It is one of the signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that "the rich" are not paying their "fair share" in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either "the rich" or "fair share."

Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions...

What a "fair share" of taxes means in practice is simply "more." No matter how high the tax rate is on people with a given income, you can always raise the tax rate further by saying that they are still not paying their "fair share." [bold added]
Sowell then considers just some of the abundant evidence that the amount of loot collected by the government does not necessarily increase when it robs the more productive at a higher rate. In the process, the economist came up with the following memorable quote regarding the projected revenue from such schemes: "A fantasy expressed in numbers is still a fantasy."

Sowell notes that this emotional rhetoric wins elections these days. I suspect that it would not have a couple of centuries ago, when people were more generally suspicious of unbridled government power, and would have correctly been alarmed at any proposal to increase its power for nebulous reasons.

And, if we once had such a culture, we can, again.

-- CAV

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