A Question for Nov. 3: Is it Fair to Soak the Poor?
by Mark Franke
We have all heard enough of the progressive-liberal mantra that the rich don’t pay their fair share. Proposals for millionaire taxes, which somehow always seem to hit hardest on the middle class, are a dime a dozen . . . provided they are on someone else’s dime.
Okay, but look at several recent highly publicized demands which put the lie to their claims of ideological purity.
First, there are the blue-state governors such as Andrew Cuomo of New York complaining that his state sends more tax dollars to the federal government than it gets back in benefits. That’s not fair, he cries.
Could it be that New York and other high-income states pay more in federal income taxes than states with lower per capita incomes because, wait for this, they are richer? Isn’t that a commandment in the progressive decalog? Shouldn’t calls for soaking the rich include rich states?
Cuomo’s whining is based on a disputed study by the Rockefeller Institute but no matter. If he really believes the progressive creed on taxing the rich until they bleed, shouldn’t he be proud of New York’s doing its fair share to support those of us in the poorer states? I think the behaviorists call this cognitive dissonance but where I hang out, we call it hypocrisy.
Second, there is an even more egregious example of this hypocrisy. Bernie Sanders and most of the other Democratic presidential wannabes demanded during the primaries that student loan balances be forgiven. The $1.6 trillion, yes trillion, owed in student loan balances should just go away. Let the taxpayers pick up the tab.
Expect this to make the Democrat Party’s platform this summer as the Bidenites concede whatever is necessary to keep the socialist wing of the party energized to vote. There is the political calculus to consider. After all, 45 million potential voters with student loan balances, and nearly a million of those owing more than $200,000, are ripe targets for campaign promises of free money.
So consider these scenarios, all of which will become reality if the election goes the way the mainstream media talking heads (I won’t call them journalists) are exuberantly predicting:
- If you never went to college because you couldn’t afford it, you get to contribute to paying off someone else’s student loans.
- If you went to a local community college or university and lived with your parents to avoid borrowing student loans, you too will pay
- If you attended part time so you could continue to work to pay your tuition and avoid borrowing, pay up
- If you borrowed the minimal amount to get by and worked part time through college, pay up
- If you faithfully paid off your student loans by sacrificing in your post-college lifestyle, pay up.
But if you went to an expensive private college on the east coast and borrowed heavily, line up for the handout. Bernie wants to send the cash your way.
If you were a child of a “privileged” family able to attend the high-cost college of your choice requiring substantial student loan borrowing, line up. Bernie will take care of you too.
If you had the opportunity to attend a prestigious graduate school and needed to borrow heavily to get through, line up. Bernie’s got you covered.
Since progressives continually tell us the top “1 percent” seem to be the root of all evil in America today, consider this. The top one percent of student loan borrowers hold 45 percent of all outstanding student loan debt. So what we have is a progressive demand to transfer funds from working class Americans to the children of the upper and upper-middle classes who ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to attend elite colleges well beyond the reach of the vast majority of working Americans. This sure sounds like “privilege,” which is supposed to be a four-letter word amongst the woke generation.
Forget the economics of this insanity. We’re talking about fairness, aren’t we? Only if we throw out all logic and common sense.
The word hypocrite comes to us from ancient Greek, meaning someone who wears a mask and acts out a part. Look at the 23rd chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel where Christ calls the Pharisees hypocrites for the virtues they flaunt in public but can’t be found in their souls.
Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Sanders, perhaps it’s time for some introspection about your progressive principles.
Mark Franke, an adjunct scholar and of the Indiana Policy Review and its book reviewer, is formerly an associate vice chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.