Roy Green: Give More! It’s Only Fair!


“Tax the Rich” the battle cry du jour of politicians seeking public office.  Some do so belligerently, others preferring a more benign approach.  Whatever the tactic, the rich, according to the fundamental narrative, have increasingly filled their pockets and at the expense of the, well, un-rich.  Were it not for these immoral holders of disproportionate wealth, we would all be doing more than a little better.

Eliminate the grossly unfair advantages of fortune-hoarding wealthy, and you wouldn’t be struggling with credit card, as well as other monthly debt.  No matter how well-intentioned and focused your approach to pay off outstanding balances, the insatiably rich to whom you are ultimately directing your “bill paying” dollars will retain their hold over your pay cheque and whatever discretionary spending power you thought you may have at the beginning of the latest 30-day period. 

From political pulpits to classrooms and union halls, the picture painted of the “rich” is of the greedily manipulative whose only spending consists of time spent counting their ever-increasing percentage of overall wealth.

Having difficulty paying your mortgage, your car payments, your food and clothing bills?  Who to blame?  The rich, of course!  It is they who pay unfair and low wages.  It is they who reduce employment at the very place you have reported for work for 30-plus years.  It is they who own the very organizations from which you purchased your car and from whom you obtain your clothing and food.

The “tax the rich” mantra is the first skirmish in an ugly battle of class warfare.  Unless you’re one of the rich, you are a victim of them and politicians whose talking points appear to have been reduced to “tax the rich” assume the mantle of defenders of the people, or as it’s more cleverly phrased the “middle class”. 

An animated video released by California teachers unions and narrated by Ed Asner initially showed one of ‘the rich’ urinating on the un-wealthy.  That scene was eventually removed, but raises the question of whether such views and possibly graphics are brought into the classrooms by teachers to whom the video represents the truth.  Forgotten, or possibly conveniently set aside,  is that teachers unions invest significant amounts of money where?  Wall Street?  Where do the rich hang out according to last year’s street protesters disrupting daily life with their “the 1 per cent have all the wealth” complaints?  Exactly.

The middle class is sinking continues the narrative.  This will be the first generation to not leave a more prosperous nation to its offspring than it itself inherited.  A good education carries with it a debt load which will require decades to be resolved; unrealistic and unaffordable.  Who to blame?  Of course, the rich!

Who are the rich and how do we identify them?  Their tax returns?  A good beginning, but a smart rich person knows how to earn and hide a great deal of his or her income offshore.  The homes they live in and the fact that gated communities they call home feature 24-hour security patrols may shout “the rich live here”?  How about the cars they drive, the country clubs they belong to, the fact they own private jets? 

So we are invited to target them; to place their wealth in the cross-hairs.  To separate the rich from their fortunes; or at least a “fair” portion of their fortunes, which would go towards housing, feeding, educating and benefitting the middle and lower classes of society.

That’s all anyone is asking, after all.  A return of a fair share of wealth from the rich.  How to do this?  Simple.  Raise taxes on anyone earning more than, name your figure here. 

Fortunately, most people, even those of very modest means not only see through this scheme, but also reject it.  As much as you may from time to time find the rich an annoyance and would welcome seeing them dropped a peg or two down the ladder, it remains clear that the successful among us obtain wealth as a by-product generally of their hard work.  It is understood the rich are often driven people for whom a sixteen hour day is routine.  The rich build successful business enterprises and provide employment.

The rich are not the enemy.  The rich can and should be pointed to as what can be accomplished through hard work and commitment to a goal.  The rich fund hospitals, they direct big money to charitable efforts, they contribute positively to their communities, local, provincial and national.

Mitt Romney’s personal wealth and the fact he shares friendships with other prosperous people made him a target of barbs and insult during the most recent U.S. federal election.  Romney’s business enterprise was described as predatory and destructive.   His fortune gained by?  Please consult the piece edited from the California teachers’ unions animated video.

Class warfare is a card played throughout history.  At this time of international economic challenge it is a card of convenience for particularly the political left. 

Be careful about letting this genie out of the bottle.

Roy Green is host of The Roy Green Show, a national program heard weekends on Corus Radio. Follow Roy on Twitter @theRoyGreenShow.