Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whose Fair Share?

I grew up with three brothers and five sisters. I had a fantastic childhood. I have wonderful parents who treated their children kindly and encouraged us to reach our fullest potential. Each of us was important to them. They taught us to serve others and to work hard. We all pulled our own weight (and made sure everyone else did, too). If the boys had to mow the lawn and weed the garden so did the girls. If the girls had to make dinner and clean the kitchen so did the boys. We were always reminded of the Golden Rule.

But there was a phrase repeated more than occasionally, and I hear it more often than I'd like with my own children: "That's not fair!"

And now we hear President Obama touting the same sentiment when it comes to taxes. He was speaking recently in Ohio on his new jobs bill saying the poor shouldn't have to pay as high of taxes as the rich . "That's not fair. It's not right."

He wants the rich to “pay their fair share” Well, who is determining what’s fair, and what the share is? Does everyone get an equal share? No.

True, everyone has the same right to use streets and bridges and parks, everyone should benefit from firefighters and have equal opportunity to receive a speeding ticket (unless you drive a red sports car).

But is it possible some people are getting FAR more in their “fair share” from the government, and not paying much for it? While those who are paying 29% taxes are paying for food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, even abortions, those high-income/high tax-paying people aren't using those benefits (there are a few exceptions—some people, like the Obamas live in government housing, use government transportation, and loads of public safety resources).

So, to say that because a person is “rich” that person’s “fair share” should be so much higher than someone who does not make a lot of money, but still uses just as much, if not much, much more of the resources, doesn’t sound so “fair.”

Now, I’m all for compassion and being my brother’s keeper, but that’s something that should come from one’s heart, not from one’s tax code. If we really wanted to have everyone pay their fair share we would have a flat tax--like everyone pays 10%.

Let’s not call it “fair share.” Let’s just call it what it is—someone’s idea of how much different income brackets should pay in taxes and what those taxes should pay for. Figuring all this out can get pretty ugly, so let's also remember that rule we all learned as kids: "Play fair" or at least "Play nice."

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