Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Confiscationism, Elizabeth Warren Style

Senator Warren's version of Confiscationism is probably best paraphrased in the following well known quote:

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there?  Good for you.  But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for...Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea?  God bless!  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is that you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."  

These ideas are so strange it's hard to believe that anyone could possibly give them any credence whatsoever, but stuff like this is red meat to Confiscationists.  Let’s break down the argument and try to make sense of it.

“You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.”
This is true but trivial.  Even if you knew that your tax dollars, specifically, went to build this particular road (which is something you cannot ever possibly know) then, if you want to claim that this entitles you to take partial credit for the success of my factory, then it would seem that you have to take responsibility for everything else that ever happens on this road as well.

For instance, let’s say that a crazed mass killer with an assault rifle drives on this very same road to a mall, or a school, and shoots 25 people dead.  By Senator Warren’s logic the taxpayers who paid for this road must be held partially responsible for these shootings.  How can it be otherwise?  Do we get to pick and choose what events of this road we want to accept credit (or blame) for?  Let’s say there is a fifty car pile up on this road – are the taxpayers to be held responsible? 

Let’s briefly ponder something else that’s implied by the remark, which is that you know with specificity which public projects your personal tax dollars are going to.  What if you did know such a thing?  Anyone who has ever donated to a private charity for children, or even animals, knows that every month you get a little progress report on how your money helped that kid or that dog.  Suppose you got a report in the mail every month “This is John.  Your tax dollars are being used to pay for his food stamps,” etc., etc.  This is nonsense, yet it is a perfectly reasonable consequence of Senator Warren’s remarks. 

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”  Really?  Is it like, a truckload of workers was dropped on your doorstep and you just blindly hired them without interviewing them, talking to them, checking their backgrounds, verifying their references, training them and nurturing them along in your company once you hired them, sending them to training courses to upgrade their skills, teaching them the business, mentoring them, etc.  How many of you out there think Senator Warren has ever managed a team, a staff, or a portion of the workforce?  Raise your hands.

“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for…”   Again, this is true but trivially true. It’s true in the way that saying “Cotton candy is food,” is true.  The fact is that the police and fire departments would be there if my factory never even came into being, indeed, if I myself had never been born.  Additionally, most factories are going to have their own private security forces and individuals known as Fire Safety Directors, and sophisticated fire safety equipment, that are not paid for by public money. 

Finally, we might observe that Senator Warren writes as though the factory owner himself or herself is not paying any taxes when it’s a good bet that, being a successful business person with a factory, they’re paying quite a bit in taxes themselves. 

Senator Warren’s version of Confiscationism is, like all Libscreech, an attempt to present the visceral, emotional acceptance of sympathy based ethics as a rational, logical and reasoned argument. 

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