Speaking of the one percent, I received an email recently from the left-wing website Reader Supported News, from which I get regular mailings, complaining that only 1% of their readership is supporting the work that everyone else benefits from. It read:
We cannot provide service to 100% of our Readership on the donations we receive from 1% of our Readers. A few of you DO help support the project. The vast majority do not. That is not fair to those who are sustaining the project, nor is it fair to the project we all want RSN to be. We love this project and this community, but we must ask you in the strongest terms to take the funding drives more seriously.Well. There's surely an irony here. RSN is all in favor of raising taxes on the wealthiest 1% of American income earners to pay for the benefits received by the rest of Americans, but if RSN thinks it unfair to expect 1% of its readership to carry the other 99% on their backs why is it any more fair to expect 1% of Americans to carry most of the rest of the country on their backs. The top 1% of income earners pay 36.7% of all taxes paid in this country. The top 10% pays 70.47%, but almost half of Americans pay no federal income tax at all. Is that fair? RSN thinks so, except when it's their enterprise that's harmed by the logic.
The story of the prof who sought to disabuse his students of their infatuation with progressive views on taxation, like those advocated by sites like RNS, is probably apocryphal but nevertheless instructive.
The story goes that his students were adamant that taxing the more successful Americans at higher rates so that the poorer Americans can be given more is just and compassionate. After all, the wealthy don't need all that wealth and the poor need more than what they have. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor would promote social solidarity and communal concern for our less fortunate brethren.
The prof said he agreed with the principle and informed his class that henceforth those students who currently had an A in the class would have points taken from them and given to those students who had Fs. After all, nobody really needs anything more than a B, but neither should anyone be allowed to fail. It would be, he averred, just and compassionate, and promote a feeling of solidarity among the students in the class, to redistribute the grades so that the best had less and the weakest had more.
But of course it didn't. Although the plan was greeted with smiles of approval from the failing students it was received with howls of outrage from the high achievers and even some of the B and C students. How, he was asked, can you justify punishing those who work hard and make good decisions by making them subsidize and reward those who don't? How, he was asked, did he expect anyone to have any incentive to work hard if he was going to take the grades away from those who did work and give them to the slackers? All he was doing, the bright students protested, was promoting mediocrity and encouraging a kind of academic parasitism.
Yes, the prof agreed, but then that's what liberalism always does.