Saturday, July 12, 2008

Who pays; who controls?

While some readers might have wondered about my long absence from Uncommon Sense, rest assured that I have been busy at work and on personal matters (like improving my house!). Things should be settled come the fall.

This post is based on the well known but interesting observation that the bulk of tax revenues are paid by a minority of the wealthiest citizens. While the data here is from the United States, similar results should be found in Canadian data.

If 52% of the electorate can effectively control the wealth of the remaining 48%, what possible incentive will they have to elect responsible representatives or support policies that encourage wealth creation, protect private property or even support the Rule of Law (being able to expropriate private property is a favorite practice of socialist city councils, and the Kelo descision has very far reaching implications)?

It was for a very good reason that Aristotle looked down on Democracy as mob rule, and the Founding Fathers of the United States also had the examples of the "Social Wars" that brought down the Res Publica Roma and the excess of the French revolution to guide them. It should be noted that the franchise in the infant United States was only granted to men of property (Timocacy) to prevent mob rule and protect the property rights of citizens.

How to reverse this situation today is not at all clear. People like the idea of getting something for free, without considering where the "free" came from. For those who do, Socialists of all stripes will invoke class warfare, suggesting the wealth is somehow stolen, and really belongs to the correct class, ethnic group, nationality etc.

The only fact in the article that provides a slim ray of hope is the ratio in the United States is still very close to the 50/50 mark, and a little economic tweaking might push the wealth generating fraction back into the majority. Even in the current situation, the greater powers of organization and initiative displayed by the wealth earning fraction of the population might still be enough to retain control of the machinery of government long enough to do the tweaking on their own.

Of course, the solution of last resort might simply be to go on strike, as eaders of "Atlas Shrugged" know...

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