Note to the Millionaires: A Better Return On Your Dollar
By: David Bozeman
After visiting the website of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, the group demanding higher taxes on wealthy Americans like themselves, one may lament the defiant, don’t-tread-on-me spirit that once defined our national character. It is not merely that these millionaires mimic the schoolroom apple-polisher who reminds the teacher that she forgot to assign homework (which they do), they are more like the choir members in the church of the benevolent state. They believe that there is no problem that can’t be solved by giving more money to the federal government. In fact, they demand that any deal reached by the Super Committee must include a tax rate for incomes over a million dollars of at least 39% ( a few months ago, the call was for higher taxes only on the super rich — funny how the threshold in public debate keeps falling)! By promoting despair and dependency, statists have promised to cure America’s ills by dragging us to the brink of bankruptcy, but like curing alcoholism by offering another cocktail, we are to believe that cutting larger checks to a federal government that has a spending addiction and not a revenue problem will fix our financial woes.
But these millionaires claim that they’re only fulfilling their patriotic duty. Speaking as a citizen who earns far less, might I suggest a few better uses for their extra funds than feeding the insatiable federal beast.
1) Grow the economy. Create jobs and stimulate revenue here in the USA. Whatever happened to enterprise zones? Not only in inner cities but in suburbs and small towns, businesses have moved out and large buildings sit vacant year after year. With America’s innate can-do spirit, this is inexcusable. Could it be that local zoning laws and regulations stifle business creation? Survey the business climate throughout the country and change it when and where possible.
2) Economic education. As a graduate of government schools, I was never taught the concept of capitalism, and only on my own did I discover the writings of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. While I cannot fully attest to the current state of economic teaching, I will submit that a few lessons in wealth and job creation are almost surely in order. Like national campaigns touting math and science as cool, how about a national resource center to teach anyone interested in creating, investing and maintaining wealth, explaining it philosophically as well as practically? Why not a scholarship program to send poor and middle-class students (of any age) to business and technical schools, and thus breed a few less disgruntled Art History graduates banging drums on Wall Street? Obviously, every citizen can’t benefit, but maybe we can nudge a few more citizens into setting an example of the unlimited potential of individual initiative.
3) A national campaign for American exceptionalism. As Reagan knew, Americans and our founding ideals are not the problem. American leadership is. By embracing freedom and the fulfillment of individual ambition among our highest ideals, we lead the way for the rest of the world. It is time for America to believe again in the greatness of our fundamental values as a beacon for future generations.
4) Throw the bums out. Sorry for the cliche, but use those millions to fund candidates who value capitalism and ordinary citizens as the triggers of economic growth. Elect a president and congress that will simplify our over-burdensome tax code.
5) Pay down the debt yourselves. The patriotic millionaires get testy when you challenge them to put their money where their mouths are. Their contribution alone, they remind us, won’t pay down the debt. Still, it would be a start and might well challenge others. But they must first demand a guarantee that any funds beyond their tax obligations be placed in a special fund solely for debt reduction (and even that is no guarantee), lest the tax and spend cycle continues. . .
Of course, nothing here is meant as a guarantee. We’re in uncharted water, here, and our problems are as cultural and psychological as they are fiscal. Still, I would rather place my faith in the wealth creators than in a behemoth that swallows money, micro-manages lives and diminishes expectations.