Fairness: Here We Go Again

Bill Neinast

neins1@aol.com

There is a new Bible on some reading tables.  The English version was the hottest book in America several weeks ago and shot to the top of Amazon’s reading list.


French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is viewed as an unabashed sequel or homage to Karl Marx’s das Kapital.  As such, it is like manna from heaven for class warriors.


I confess that I have not tried to wade through the 685 page opus.  Every review and critique that I have read, however, agrees that Piketty basically regurgitates Marx.  In both minds, capitalism is unfair; there is an unfair distribution of wealth in capitalist countries like the U.S. and Europe.


In typical class warfare jargon, individuals who have income from owning property, businesses, and stocks, get an “unfair” share of a country’s wealth. This unfair share of wealth is contrasted with that left for those who, in Piketty’s words, work for a living.  In other words, business managers, stockbrokers, and others who do not weld pipe lines, assemble cars, or otherwise use their backs instead of their brains are unfairly compensated.


To balance this unfair distribution of wealth, Piketty recommends that Western governments get together and impose an 80% tax on incomes over $500,000.00 as well as a new progressive tax on every kind of asset and property.


Well, guess what.  That has been tried and it is not working.


France’s socialist President Francois Hollande likes what his fellow Frenchman says.  According to Market Business News of May 28, “he assured everybody when he came into power two years ago that French tax income would increase if he dramatically raised income, corporate and sales taxes.


“He did so, and now the Court of Auditors which oversees the government’s accounts, says there is a gaping 14 billion Euro  ($19.04 billion) black hole in its public finances.”


This is because he raised the top rate of income tax to 75% in 2013, which resulted in the emigration of a number of well-known French citizens, including actor Gerard Depardieu.


The only result with this obsession for “fairness” has been more misery for more people.  Doubters of that assertion simply need to study the recent histories of Marx’s utopias in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other workers’ paradises.  A lot more of the down trodden masses in those systems wanted out than wanted in.


When this obsession is boiled to its core, the result is ENVY, the sixth of the Seven Deadly Sins of Christian ethics, and envy results in some real paradoxes.


For example, class warriors and other liberals swoon when Johnny Football signs a multi million dollar contract for playing sports but become apoplectic when considering last year’s median income of $10.5 million for CEOs.


The fairness or unfairness of some being born with superior athletic abilities while others are born as klutzes; some being born as music virtuosos and some born unable to read a music note; some born with silver tongues and others born tongue tied; etc. seems never to be of concern.  Envy blooms, however, when someone is able to accumulate wealth with his brain instead of his back.


Today, the word of choice for this envy is privilege, specifically white privilege.  On college campuses, a common argument from class warriors is to “check your privilege.” This was in President Obama’s speech on July 13, 2012, when he said, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,” and “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” In other words it was on your privilege and built on the backs of others.


For those who think this was just a passing remark, it was reflected recently at the fifteenth annual White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, attended by 2,500 public school teachers, administrators and students from across the nation.


One of the tamer comments at that conference was by Stephanie Baran, an adjunct professor at Kankakee Community College. Her message was that capitalism is the cause of racism in the world today. She called herself a vulgar Marxist and added that racism was invented in Colonial America by white capitalists as a tool to divide labor and keep the working class in their place.


After reading that, I checked my privilege.  There I found that I had been reared in a nuclear, two parent family with a father who went through bankruptcy in the Great Depression then created his own business, worked 80 hour weeks, and retired in the upper middle class. 


I inherited the work ethic from that privilege, married a woman from a loving, two-parent home, and created our own nuclear family with four children.  The family now includes 11 grandchildren.  Every one of the 17 family members has a college degree, with five having advanced degrees.  Every one is gainfully employed or retired.  Is our privilege the work ethic inherited from that bankrupt from way back in the 30s, or is it just because we were born white?


So here’s the perspective.


A number of American studies indicate that the best predictor of financial success  is a stable two-parent family.  Other studies indicate that 60% of minority births are to single mothers.  


If it is not fair that some have the privilege of being born into two parent families while others are born to single mothers, how can it be made fair?


Will an 80% tax on the incomes of those with the privilege of being reared in a two parent home balance the scales for those born to single mothers?


Marx and Piketty think so.  How about you? 

enough



 
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