The Chick Forgot To Define Hunk
September 22, 2011 8 Comments
I’ve seen a couple of intelligent, considered reactions now to a [quote?] [blurb?] [prayer?] from someone named Elizabeth Warren. Remind me to Wiki who ‘Elizabeth Warren’ is on some day of my life when I am at my lowest and seriously considering turning to hard drugs. I try to parse the name and find it in my memory banks and just end up thinking of the Warren Commission (is this person on the Supreme Court?), but then I remind myself that her name’s ‘Elizabeth’ so that means she’s a girl which maybe means she’s one of those girl CEOs they’ve rotated around the tech companies and had give commencement speeches about how successful they are (as girls) in between firings and whatnot. (They are kinda hard to tell apart you have to admit.)
Meanwhile, it’s hard to see from the actual quote what merits such brainpower being thrown at it:
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. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… 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 you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
I’m sure glad she “wants to be clear” (laudable!), but the thing I want to say about this is: What is this supposed to be an argument for?
Yes I can see what a lefty would like it to be interpreted as an argument for. It kind of smells like it’s an argument for things lefties would like to win arguments for doing. That is to say, it, as a set of words, sort of resembles an argument that sort of appears as if it’s leaning in that lefty direction (like an optical illusion where the two lines are the same length but one looks like it’s longer).
But read the words again. It’s not an argument for anything in particular.
Let me just save time by stipulating that everything ‘Elizabeth Warren’ has said [written?] in these words is 100% God’s-honest truth. Let’s say we take it into our hearts as our guiding principle. The Warren Principle. Indeed, let’s imagine that we, each and every one of us, are metaphysically unable to violate the Warren Principle, it’s hard-wired into our souls not to, as if it’s our equivalent of Asimov’s Laws Of Robotics. Got that?
Now then: How much taxes should everyone pay?
Here’s my answer: Every single adult should pay exactly $X in taxes, every year, where X = [federal budget] divided by [number of adults]. In other words, I’m not even advocating a flat tax. I’m advocating a regressive tax. A single fee, payable by each and every person, every year, regardless of wealth or income or consumption. Warren Buffet pays $X and you pay $X.
But! you protest. Surely that’s not what she meant!
Well maybe not, but nevertheless that’s the tax system I’ve decided to advocate. Moreover, I’ve consulted my inner soul’s Warren Principle controller-chip, and I have asked it “Does my tax system violate the Warren Principle?”, and guess what answer came back?
I mean if the factory owner pays exactly $X dollars in taxes, has he “take[n] a hunk of” what he’s earned and paid it to the government? Of course he has. X is “a hunk” for any X>0. Or if you like, the problem with the Warren Principle is that she forgot to define ‘hunk’.
But that’s the entire tax argument! Namely, how much ‘hunk’ should I vs. you vs. Joe pay? That’s where the actual argument resides. It’s as if she was too cowardly or lazy or stupid to do the heavy-lifting of taking on the actual argument, and decided instead to go for this construction that skirts around the entire argument but has the trappings of being profound.
The problem is that literally, her statement is an argument for no particular tax system at all. It works equally well for my uber-regressive tax system as for the one of lefties’ dreams. So yeah lefties, go ahead, post it on your Facebook Wall or whatever. I just do not think it is an argument for what you think it is an argument for.