Monday, March 16, 2009

Work harder, make more money!

When the wealthy are asked to pay their fair share of taxes in this country, conservatives often like to complain with an argument that goes someting along the lines of "Why should the people who work the hardest be punished by paying more taxes?"

Is there anybody out there who really believes that this is a good argument? While there are certainly some hard-working rich people (like James Brown, when he was alive) doesn't it seem a bit crazy to imply that rich people are rich because they've worked harder? Some of them are rich because they were born into money. Some are rich because of some sound investments. Some are rich because they were hired into the family business. Some are rich because of dumb luck. I mean, does Paris Hilton work harder than your garbageman? I would have to guess that no, she does not. Why does he have less money then?

I can speak from my own experience that the amount in which I've been paid has not always been proportionate to how hard I've worked. If I look at my last job, my dot com gig at, I certainly didn't work anywhere near as hard as I often do as a teacher. And even though this is my eighth year of teaching, I'm still not making nearly as much as I did when I was first hired there.

Sometimes, the pay meets the amount of work. I hardly did a thing at the cybercafe, but I also barely made any money. I did more work at LookSmart, and I got paid a lot more. I worked about the same at as I did at LookSmart, and I got paid about twice as much. Go figure, huh?

What really gets me is that most of the conservatives I hear aren't even rich enough to be affected by this sort of a thing. Even if this is "redistributing the wealth", I think that many of these folks who parrot Limbaugh, O'Reilly, etcetera would only stand to gain from it.


Matthew said...

I really should be working harder right now... but I can't help myself.

First of all, what exactly is a "fair share?" and whom decides what is fair for everyone else? I think that is the origin of the objection. But, I'll agree that there are plenty of parrots barking in agreement with their particular pundit, but don't really understand what they're saying.

I would argue that whatever you were paid at any of your jobs, was indeed "fair." It may not correlate to the work you felt you were expending, but since your employer and you agreed on the wage, then it was "fair." It doesn't make any difference what I or anyone else thinks about the money you made or didn't make.

Anyway, I'm not sure it's always a matter of 'he who works the hardest should be rewarded the most.' At least to me, it's a matter of power. Who decides what is fair? I'm probably a humanist to a fault, but I would almost always rather let the individual decide for him/her self rather than demand what I or someone else deems fair from another. If the money does not belong to the 'public', then what right does the 'public' have in taking that money? It's really tantamount to institutionalized theft.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I hear what you're saying, and I don't really disagree with you (not sure what I think, actually). I'm just going after that canard about how supposedly the people who make more money do so because they work harder.

Matthew said...

I guess that's my point. It doesn't matter how anyone gets their money (provided it's not by stealing). If a person gets rich by smarts, strength, skill, education or just luck doesn't really matter. It's all the same. Taxing the rich takes money from those who have earned it, simply because they have it, and regardless of the work they expended to get it.