Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Drip, Drip

I understand why Senator McCain has taken aim at Senator Obama's tax plan. I've never really been on board with the idea that tax policy was an appropriate vehicle for the redistribution of wealth myself. (We'll ignore, for the time being, that once upon a time, Senator McCain was. Legislators are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents. This will, at times, result in a certain level of inconsistency.)

But I don't think that I like the direction in which he has taken his criticism. Mainly because, in much the same way as "trickle down" economics during the Ronald Reagan years, it relies on wealthy people to be the final engines of the economy, and in return for that, it seems to favor the greater concentration of wealth, which, in my opinion acts as an active drag on the economy. Because, in the end, wealthy people hoard wealth. That's how they get to be wealthy people. While Senator McCain says that economic and tax policy should encourage people to create wealth, if you then let them keep all of it, the net result is that everyone else is relatively poorer. And in the capitalist system as we currently practice it, it takes money to make money - and so its mainly them that has, that gets. I don't have a problem with the idea that people want to hoard money. Given the chance, I'd make Fafnir or Smaug look generous by comparison. But part of what got into the situation that we're in right now is the increasing concentration of greater and greater wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and the fact that our current financial and legal structures encourage that.

The other thing that bothers me about Senator McCain's current rhetoric is that it makes work seem too much like charity. If we don't let wealthy people keep as much money as they'd like, they'll stop handing out jobs to the rest of us. While I understand that this is pretty much the way things do work these days, why do we want to encourage that? Why give a handful of people the ability to decide whether the rest of us have viable livelihoods?

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