Home >> Opinion >> Redistribution of Wealth is Killing the American Dream; Unfair Government Policies and What Needs to Be Done

Redistribution of Wealth is Killing the American Dream; Unfair Government Policies and What Needs to Be Done

A recent CNN poll says 59% of Americans think the American Dream is unachievable and 63% of us believe our children will not be as well off as we are. It used to be that if you worked hard you kept most of what you earned and could pass whatever you had to your children to give them a leg up on life. Now, thanks to unfair government policies that redistributes wealth this is much more difficult to do. People resent it when they are not treated fairly. Our government is not fair, deliberately so. The Democrats, once influenced by and now basically controlled by Social-Progressives, and “get along to go along” Republicans have enacted policies that are so basically inequitable that it is undermining the strength of our nation. Few humans will work as hard for unknown others as they will for themselves and their families. Plantation overseers carried whips for a reason, after all.

It didn’t happen all at once, and in all honesty many of those who supported or support these unjust redistribution policies did so or do so with good intentions. We all know where the road of good intentions leads.

Since people want to be treated fairly they resent it when they aren’t. While on some level we all understand that life isn’t fair. Some people are born richer, smarter, better looking, and we can accept that. What people don’t accept are things like the incompetent nephew of the boss who’s promoted ahead of them, or the secretary that can’t type, but pleases the boss other ways who gets the raise. That’s not “fair” and people resent it. Now consider how many government redistribution policies are unfair. It’s much easier to find another job or another boss than move to another country.

Start with our income tax system. Never mind how corrupt the IRS has become, how basically incompetent it is, or how arbitrarily it abuses its power. Income tax is unfair all by itself. For starters, it’s “progressive” in that the more you make the greater percent you pay. Leave aside the fact that the very rich can work the system, which is also unfair, that some pay 35% of their income to the Federal government while others not only do not pay any federal income tax at all, but can get an income tax credit of up to $6000 paid to them. That money comes from people who do pay taxes. That’s redistribution and that is just plain wrong. It stifles the ambition of those who don’t want to pay for others who don’t earn as much as they do. And it rewards the bad behavior of those who make poor choices or chose not to work as hard. A consumption tax would be better, because a consumption tax would reward those who work hard, invest, and postpone instance gratification.

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As bad as income tax is it is far surpassed by the so-called death tax that taxes the estate of those who die before they pass on their wealth to their children. Again, leave aside that many people don’t have enough to be taxed or that the super-rich can avoid it, it is blatantly wrong. Any money someone has when they die has already been taxed throughout their life. If they want to leave it to their children or grandchildren, or the family cat, how is it fair for the government to tax it again? This not only builds resentment, it also makes people less likely to work hard enough or save enough so as to avoid having enough for the estate tax to kick in.

These taxes are not the only unfair taxes by a wide margin. Taxes for entitlements are arguably worse. Social Security is our oldest entitlement and utterly not fair. It’s basically a government run Ponzi scheme. Aside from the fact that is headed for absolute ruin, Social Security gives redistributes much more to some than they ever paid into it and gives back much less to the many who will never get back what they contributed. Many  who get retirement from other systems, like California’s STRS don’t get back any of the money they paid into social security from other jobs. If the government is so certain that people can’t be trusted to save money for their own retirement the least they could be would be to set up privatized accounts where any tax money collected is the property of the person who paid it whatever conditions the government might set for that person to collect it. Anything left would go to whomever the deceased determined as beneficiary. The same could be done for health care.

The Ant and the Grasshopper is an enduring parable for a reason. Taking from those who work hard and giving to those who don’t isn’t fair. And that is killing the American Dream.

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About Nicholas Wishek

Retired teacher. 40 years classroom experience. Served in California National Guard 6 years. BA in history, MA in education. Married 35 years. Two sons. Many columns published in OC Register 2009-2014.