I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
What I like about this is how unbothered it is by the question of what the factory owner’s fair share of taxes might be. The implication, clearly, is that no amount would ever be fair. “We” built an entire civic infrastructure around this factory, without which it couldn’t operate, so really the factory owner can never thank us enough. It’s a blank check for tax hikes unto eternity. In essence: “I helped pay for that sidewalk, now give me your wallet.” In fact, if you had no knowledge of American tax law while listening to this shpiel, you might reasonably conclude that “factory owners” pay no taxes at all. They’re complete free riders — using the roads, relying on the police, making bank off the backs of public-educated workers, and never offering so much as a thin dime to the system in gratitude. In reality, that factory owner is paying for more of that road, public school, and cop’s salary than you or I are. Beyond that, though, I’m amazed at how easily she overlooks the wealth created by the factory as a contribution to society. Not all of it ends up in the owner’s pocket, even though he/she assumed the massive risk of starting the plant. The factory provides jobs; it generates demand for suppliers; and if it’s successful it cranks out a product that others use to generate wealth of their own. And the more wealth there is, the easier it is to pay for those roads and cops and schools. Memo from factory owners to Warren: You’re welcome.
The reason this is a viral hit on the left, of course, is because they think most of their political problems boil down to “messaging.” Their platform is foolproof — genius top to bottom — but the sheer ingenious complexity of the scheme means they have trouble explaining it to the common voting yokel. Case in point: ObamaCare. The program’s obviously brilliant, but poor O had a devil of a time explaining why in those 500 speeches he gave on it. Warren has them buzzing because, if this clip is indicative, she has a knack for explaining how rich parasites are getting fat off The People in terms average voters might understand. I don’t begrudge them a little viral excitement; lord knows, we’ve had endless fun with Chris Christie’s clips. But at least Christie’s focusing on entitlements, the long-term driver of America’s budget problems. Warren’s focusing on … this. Won’t solve much, but I’m sure it feels good.
Exit question: Does the social contract also require accountability with taxpayer money?