Vail Daily column: Paying their fair share
A good slogan is a clever way of getting into someone’s head — and potentially staying there. A good, catchy slogan can make or break a business advertising campaign or a presidential political campaign, e.g., “Just do it!” — Nike; “Have it your way” — Burger King; “Hope and Change” — Barack Obama, 2008; “Paying their fair share.” – the bogus liberal media.
“Just do it” gives one the sense of taking charge. “Have it your way” makes the consumer the center of attention. “Hope and Change” offered a sense of optimism. “Paying their fair share” is a statement with no redeeming value and that does little more than promote class warfare.
So let’s look at some facts before we go further. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of Americans paid 46 percent of the individual income taxes in 2014. The top 20 percent of earners paid 85 percent, and the bottom 80 percent paid just 15 percent. So exactly who isn’t paying their fair share?
Regardless of who’s paying what, by pandering to the public, the more liberal precincts in this country have managed to put a negative connotation on terms such as money, profit and wealth.
But money needs to be put into proper perspective. It’s fair to say that money is the harvest of our production — the operative word being production. In a nation such as ours, a realistic gauge of our production (aka, our contribution to our society as a whole) is the amount of money we receive for doing whatever it is that we do.
Human behavior guru Earl Nightingale tells us, “The amount of money we receive will always be in direct proportion to the demand for what we do, our ability to do it, and to the difficulty in replacing us.” As a practical matter then, in 21st century America, a highly skilled person is worth more money than a person who is not highly skilled and who can be replaced easily.
A janitor or a sales clerk is just as important as a brain surgeon, but the amount of money each earns during their respective lifetimes will be in direct proportion to the demand for what they do, their ability to do it and the difficulty in replacing them.
Yet many politicians in this country (some who are even running for president) don’t like that equation and feel it’s their responsibility to re-distribute the wealth regardless of the individual’s sacrifice or contribution to society.
The two great fallacies of the fair share argument are that fairness is a relative term and cannot objectively be defined without first understanding a myriad of factors, such as age, IQ, work ethic, opportunity, incentive, ability, dedication, motivation, responsibility, background, education, etc. These factors may comprise the equation, but as a practical matter they are immeasurable. The second fallacy is allowing those with an agenda to decide what’s fair and what’s not.
So perhaps instead of focusing on spurious slogans such as “pay their fair share” those endeavoring to drive an economic wedge between people in order to garner votes, we would be well served to focus on the aspirational and to empower people rather than make them “victims.”
Notice I used quotation marks around the word victims because I find it interesting that to the majority of the world’s population the average American is already rich. In fact, there’s a greater difference between the standard of living of most of the world’s population and an average American worker than there is between the average worker and multi-billionaire Bill Gates.
There will always be a so-called underclass — life isn’t fair. The kid born and raised in the ghetto to a single parent simply won’t have the same opportunity as a child raised in Singletree and attending Vail Mountain School. But American history is replete with thousands upon thousands of stories of men and women born to humble beginnings who rose to great heights — it just takes effort.
And a politician who really wants what’s best for the citizenry might espouse something similar to the notions of Mr. Nightingale, who wrote, “It’s not the job, it’s the person doing the job; and it’s not one’s current circumstances that matter — it’s the circumstances the individual makes up his or her mind to achieve that are important.”
Of course the fair share argument will resonate with some — and whether through lack of understanding or conditioning by a dishonest media and unscrupulous politicians, these folks miss the point of what the Founders envisioned for all of us — such a shame.
Quote of the day: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” — Steven Covey.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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