“Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as ‘kooks’, ‘right-wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘left-wing’, ‘terrorists’, ‘conspiracy buffs’, ‘radicals’, ‘militia’, ‘racists’, ‘religious fanatics’, ‘sexual deviates’, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.”
- H. Michael Sweeney, Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation -
Tax law professor and fellow tax blogger Jim Maule has written a very revealing post titled Is Public Truly Getting IRS-Congress Distinction in which he claims that those who don’t agree with him and support tax increases on the rich are being duped by evil rich people:
Isn’t it time to counteract the deliberate misinformation campaigns and the foolish repetition of nonsense by the ignorant by stepping up public education, not only in schools but in workplaces, civic associations, and community centers?
It’s no coincidence that tea party movement members are being duped into fighting taxes used to pay for public education. An educated public is the worst enemy that the wealthy elite can imagine.
If you think he’s finished attacking those with whom he disagrees, wait, there’s more. Listen as he impugns the motives of Sarah Palin, a person he does not know and has never met:
Palin’s entry into the public spotlight has brought her a flood of income, putting her in a category greater than 99.99 percent of all taxpayers. But because she has so little capital gains taxed at special low rates, she had discovered that most of her income will be taxed in the top bracket. Is it any wonder that she doesn’t like the idea that “47 percent of households pay no federal income tax.”
This is pure speculation. Mr. Maule has no way of knowing what, if anything, Ms. Palin has discovered about her tax rates and what effect such a discovery has had on her political positions.¹ He’s making a pejorative assumption about her motives simply because he doesn’t like what she says.
Why is Mr. Maule unwilling to give Ms. Palin and those who agree with her the benefit of the doubt? Why is he unwilling to take them at their word when they say they believe that the expansion of government and the confiscation of wealth from successful people is bad for America?² After all, she certainly wouldn’t be the first person to have ever voiced that opinion.
Could it be that the professor thinks all small-government, anti-tax conservatives are motivated by self interest? Could it be that he believes that those favoring higher taxes on the rich are the “good guys” and those favoring lower taxes on the rich are the “bad guys?” And if that is his attitude, how is it any different from the much-maligned Manichean attitude exemplified by George W. Bush after 9/11 when he said to the world “you’re either with us or against us?”
In addition to defaming the integrity and character of the leaders of the anti-tax movement, Mr. Maule also questions the intelligence of their followers:
[A]ll those people flocking to the tea party banner continue to remind me of sheep being led unwittingly to the slaughter.
The attitude of the intelligentsia as epitomized here by Mr. Maule is both arrogant and condescending. The sentiments underlying this attitude may be articulated as follows:
“If you don’t see the world the way I see the world, you are either stupid, exploited or dishonest.”
But ad hominem diatribes like the one Mr. Maule has written aren’t only sophomoric and insulting; they’re also astoundingly selective given the many distortions that regularly ooze from the mouths of big government activists demanding higher taxes on the rich.
Just try these doozies on for size:
- The rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes:
This is an outright lie designed to manipulate the middle-class and the poor into believing they are getting the shaft. But the left needs a victimized electorate in order to consolidate it’s power. An independent, self-reliant and, yes, educated, electorate is anathema to it. The rich fund the lions share of government in America and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Rich people like Sarah Palin who oppose higher tax rates only do so for personal gain while the motives of pro-tax advocates like Mr. Maule are pure:
This is the same tactic used by New York Times’ economics columnist David Leonhardt. Like Professor Maule, he accuses those who oppose tax increases on the rich of being motivated by selfish, nefarious interests while taking it for granted that his readers will assume he himself is motivated only by magnanimous desires. The demonization of one’s opponent is a long-cherished and widely employed tactic of the intellectual elite. Make no mistake about it, they want you to think Sarah Palin and others who oppose tax increases are bad people. It’s a hell of a lot easier to gain converts that way.³
- Only those who favor tax increases on the rich and an expansion of government are capable of supporting policies that are counter to their private, narrow interests. Everyone else is either a dupe, a moron or a greedy exploiter of the masses:
I presume Mr. Maule would benefit from a reduction in tax rates and, therefore, further assume that his support of higher taxes is counter to his own economic interests. Consequently, although he is capable of subordinating his own narrow, private interests to the larger interests of the country as a whole, he doesn’t believe you are.
- The poor are audited more often than the rich:
The rich are three hundred percent more likely to be audited than the poor, but the anti-rich, pro-big government crowd doesn’t want you to know that because it doesn’t comport with their picture of a society run by greedy, rich men who serially exploit the masses.
- The rich take more from society than they give to it/the poor give more to society than they take from it:
Soak-the-richers believe that the only way to get the non-rich to support increased taxes on the rich is to convince the latter that the former are a bunch of greedy freeloaders living off the backs of the working class. They euphemistically and dishonestly call this “education.” I, on the other hand, dare to speak it’s true name: Propaganda. The truth is, rich, successful people not only pay most of the taxes in America, they also give the most money to charitable organizations and create the most jobs.
Finally, it seems that when Mr. Maule talks about educating the public what he means is indoctrinating people into believing the things he believes: Namely, that the rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes; that those who are opposed to tax increases are opposed to all taxes and all government; and that the rich got that way by stomping on the rights of the poor. For Mr. Maule it is irrebuttable proof that a man lacks education if he does not support confiscatory taxes on people who are more successful than he.
After reading Mr. Maule’s post, it is simply impossible to arrive at any conclusion other than that he believes that only an ignorant or maliciously motivated person could possibly be opposed to higher taxes on rich people. Of course that’s utter balderdash because there are myriad wise and benignly motivated reasons to oppose high taxes on the rich and the inevitable expansion of government that comes with them. For example, I am opposed to high taxes and the expansion of the federal government at the expense of private enterprise for the following reasons:
- Government has proven to be inefficient and, therefore, I don’t trust the bureaucracy to use my money wisely.
- Giving too much power to government is anti-constitutional and poses a threat to freedom.
- Government already wastes a substantial portion of the tax revenue it receives from the public. It is reasonable to demand that the government responsibly and wisely use the money we’ve already given it before it asks us to give it more.
- Government expansions tend to be permanent, it being politically impossible after the crisis du jour is solved to shrink it back down to its former size.
- The free market, as imperfect as it is, will circulate wealth in a more efficient and ultimately more just way than the federal government will circulate it.
- The clamoring for higher taxes on successful people is a cop out to avoid doing the hard work of cost cutting. It is also a thinly veiled power grab by those who want to remove choice from individuals and give it to an intellectual elite that thinks it knows better than they do what is good for them.
Supporters of higher taxes and bigger government may disagree with my reasons for favoring lower taxes and smaller government, but when they suggest that those reasons are the product of my ignorance or the result of my exploitation by rich oligarchs, they’ve lunged from the world of reasoned debate into the abyss of pejorative and character assassination. It is unlikely they’ll convince anyone of anything from there.
¹ Mr. Maule appears to be suggesting that Ms. Palin only began opposing tax increases after she herself became wealthy? This is laughable. Palin was the 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President – hardly a position offered to someone who favors high taxes.
² I take pro-taxers like Mr. Maule at their word when they say that they want government to be funded by the fortunate so that it can help the less fortunate. Having said that, were my arguments in favor of lower taxes and smaller government weaker, I, too, might be compelled to question my opponents’ motives, demean their intellect and attack their character.
³ Maule and Leonhardt are smart enough to refrain from calling those who merely follow conservatives like Sarah Palin evil. Instead, they call them ignorant dupes. Of course, that’s just as insulting because it implies that they are too stupid to know what’s good for them. Sadly, though, this is precisely what liberal intellectual elites really think about tea partiers, Republicans and conservatives in general. They’re either outright demons (the dupers) or dumber than a runway model (the dupees).