Friday, September 09, 2005


Justin's Bill O'Reilly link

Justin posted this link in the comments, and I read the artcile. Read it for yourself, it's something to think about.

Here's my problem with the article. I'll quote one passage here:

"Yet the racial hustlers and far-left demagogues continue to sell victimization to Americans living in the poor precincts. The poverty pimps can't blame the establishment fast enough for ghettos and deprivation and even hurricanes. But you rarely hear the words 'personal responsibility' when it comes to attacking the poverty problem."

I always think it is interesting that "Personal responsibility" comes up whenever the issue of class is mentioned. In his article, Bill goes to great lengths to talk about how kids should be shown the footage of the people stranded in the remains of my fair city, and that this should be motivation for them to learn "personal responsibility" and learn a skill, work hard, and take care of themselves.

I would grant that the people who stayed behind in New Orleans stayed by a concious choice, and therefore have some responsibility for their situations, if they had the equal opportunity that the "affluent" children had as far as education. I won't even broach the other issues here, let's just look at education.

If any of you have been into a public school in Orleans Parish (or in any major city for that matter) and then into a suburban public school, tell me if those kids got the same opportunity to be educated, or if the government that mandates their education has failed them. There are the standard arguements about leading a horse to water but not being able to make them drink, but if we're going to try to stand by that statement, we need to make sure that the water is of the same quality everywhere, and it most definitely is not.

Now, let's talk about "personal responsibility" in this current era of tax cuts and the attempt to revoke the "death tax". Don't these affluent of whom Bill speaks, don't they bear some personal responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves? Let's take a family in the US, who earns $100k/yr in combined gross household income. Does 14.23% of their annual income really pay their fair share of the costs of running this country, when their income would suggest that they earn more than 80% of their American brothers and sisters? (Don't be fooled by looking and saying that somebody earning 100k/yr would be in the 25% tax bracket, that's true, but our tax system is progressive, taxing higher rates of income at higher percentages, same for lower. All tax cuts are tax cuts for the poorest of the poor are tax cuts for the wealthy since it reduces their effective tax rate across the board. Visit this link if you don't believe me.)

Let's take this even further to discuss the "death tax". Uncle sam wants to take half of what you have worked so hard to earn, or so you may have heard. In 2005, according to the IRS the exclusion is $1,500,000 of total wealth per person. So, if you're married and you have advisors who are slightly competent you have $3,000,000 of exclusion, which is a lot of money to pass on to your children or grandkids. Nevermind that if your advisors are good, they can shelter even more wealth than that. So why is this such a big issue? If you can leave over $1M to somebody who didn't earn it through their own labor, shouldn't that be pretty good? Even monies over and above the current estate tax limits are taxed at a cap of 47% currently, so your millions over and above that still pass on to your heirs, after being reduced through taxation.

Still, you may be saying, "These people earned that money, they should get to do with it whatever they want." I disagree. Let's just say that John Smith owns a trucking company, and builds some contracts and relationships, buys some trucks, runs a good business, and eventually when he dies that business is worth multi-millions and he is subject to the estate tax. People will run out and say that the government is trying to take something that isn't theirs, that this is a bad thing. Answer a few questions for me though. Didn't those trucks run on roads that the government built? Maybe they developed some special transportation systems, and they hold a patent that is very valuable that gives the business an advantage. Doesn't the government keep track of people's patents, giving them a system by which they can protect their valuable intellectual capital? Didn't the government give the small business man loans at the beginning of their career through SBA loan programs, and assistance later on through tax breaks for those who own and invest into their business?

The bigger question to me is, why wouldn't this person want to give back to that government that did so much for his business, and at least try to make sure that future generations have the same benefits?


You wrote, "I would grant that the people who stayed behind in New Orleans stayed by a concious choice, and therefore have some responsibility for their situations, if they had the equal opportunity that the "affluent" children had as far as education."

Not sure I follow. Are you saying that those who went to government schools don't have as much personal responsibility as those who went to non-government schools?
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