Over-taxing the Wealthy: Anti-American Policy?

Posted by - Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Recently, quite a few well-known media hosts have been questioning if Americans who support over-taxing the wealthy view wealth as a “problem.”

If Obama’s tax plans come to fruition and the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts expire for income earners bringing home more than $250,000 per year, some economists worry how small business owners and investors who create jobs will react to this...

The primary concern is that the principle itself depletes the American values of working hard, becoming successful, and earning sustainable wealth to support thriving families.

Aren’t these the very fundamentals that made America the booming land of opportunity and entrepreneurship our forefathers worked so hard to obtain?

Nina Easton, senior editor-at-large at Fortune seems to believe that overtaxing the wealthy — and thus, demonizing them — is bad political strategy for our country.

She wrote:

Predictions of impending class warfare miss the fundamental nature of the American psyche. There is a tendency within the chattering classes to overstate the American public's disdain for affluence -- and to understate people's passion for pursuing their own wealth.

Other overt critics like Glenn Beck agree that Obama’s plans to end the Bush-era tax cuts will result in nothing more than an attack on the American Dream.

Now, not everyone blames wealthy Americans for the bleak economy and joblessness plaguing this decade...

It's against our basic American instincts.

Historically Americans haven't shown much appetite for class strife. As professors Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs noted in their 2009 book Class War?: "While Americans are alert to inequality and support measures to reduce it... they remain conservative by instinct... Responsibility for an individual's economic position and life conditions rests chiefly with him- or herself."

So why all the talk of revolution? "Us-vs.-them-ism" is an especially tempting theme for a media desperately looking for ways to grab our short attention spans. Therefore, much was made of a recent Pew Research poll purporting to show a sharp rise in conflicts between rich and poor.

French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville noted back in the 1800s how impressive it was that the American people were so “dedicated” to preserving equality while also being so in love with wealth at the same time. He said, “The love of wealth… is at the bottom of all Americans do.”

Things are more or less the same a century later, as we're living with the echo of those previously uttered words of wisdom.

People want a better chance of achieving success — and they certainly don’t want success to be taken away once they achieve it.

So, why would we punish the successful via tax increases?

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