Academy award-winning actor Matt Damon said he is “so disgusted” with what’s happening in Washington over the debt limit, claiming that the Tea Party is “willing to drive it all off a cliff” and adding that it’s “criminal” the wealthy are not paying higher taxes. “I’m so disgusted man. I mean, no, I don’t know what you do in the face of that kind of intransigence. You know, so my heart does go out to the President. He is dealing with a lot,” Damon said in a recent interview. He went on, “This is the greatest country in the world. Is it that much worse if you pay 6 percent more in taxes? Give me a break. You know, look at what you get for it. You get to be American.”
What do actors know about ethics, philosophy and politics? Why are they constantly asked for their opinions on matters such as tax cuts, the budget and politics? Doctors are never asked for their opinions; neither are business owners (unless they’re socialist or liberal). Doctors and business owners know a lot more about what goes on in the real world of money, human affairs and human intelligence than actors. What gives actors special dispensation to actually know something about — well, anything, other than acting?
I don’t know about you, but Matt Damon’s opinion is the last one I’d seek in trying to understand the current crisis over the national debt. Damon feels that people making $250,000 or more a year should be paying at least 50 percent in taxes. Of course, the media fawns and swoons over his “brilliance.” His “brilliance” consists of saying what they want to hear.
Here’s my fantasy of what an interview with a liberal socialist like Matt Damon would look like.
Q: You’ve said that it’s outrageous that people who make a lot of money aren’t paying more in taxes — at least 50 percent in taxes. Why don’t you voluntarily give that amount to the government? To set an example?
Damon: (Shocked silence). Well, I’m certainly not going to do it if nobody else is required to do it. That’s not fair.
Q: I understand. But like I said, you could set an example. You could lead the way. You could at least attempt to justify other people being forced to pay 50 percent in taxes by saying, “Look. I’m already doing it myself.”
Damon: No. It’s not fair.
Q: But you’re asserting that people are morally obligated to pay more in taxes. There’s nothing to stop you from giving the government all the money you want. Don’t you trust the government to spend that money well if you voluntarily hand it over?
Damon: Well, no. Thanks to George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress, we can’t trust the government to do anything right. If the right people were in charge, things would be a lot better. Like I said, my heart goes out to the President for having to deal with this opposition.
Q: But the liberal Democrats control almost the entire government. Other than abortion and gay marriage, the mainstream of Republican leaders go along with the Democrats on nearly everything. Liberals control the executive branch, most of the Congress and are one vote away from a very long-term majority on the Supreme Court. Yet things are still getting worse. Unemployment is rising and we’re headed for a prolonged recession, nearly five years now. Obama and the Democrats have done nothing to stop that. Won’t raising taxes on the people who create wealth and jobs make things even worse?
Damon: No. I’ve never used my wealth to create a business. Nor does anyone else I know who’s wealthy.
Q: You mean you don’t spend it on things — luxury items that you couldn’t afford before you became famous? You mean you don’t invest in stocks, real estate or other enterprises that make up part of the economy?
Damon: I do both of those things.
Q: But that means your money is out in the private economy. There are more jobs and more economic transactions taking place than if your money went into the hands of the government.
Damon: But the government needs that money to balance the budget and stimulate the economy.
Q: But exactly how does a government attempt to stimulate an economy? It does so by transferring tax money into various enterprises. But government has no accountability. It doesn’t pay a price if it invests that money poorly. The only incentive government has is to pay off pressure groups for election purposes. Businesses and investors, on the other hand, have a self-interest in making a real profit, and being as efficient as possible about it. Isn’t it better for the economy that your millions go into the hands of private companies, small businesses or private investors — rather than politicians, who waste much of it and don’t make rational decisions about where to invest it?
Damon: Government has had successes. Consider Sesame Street. And Head Start.
Q: But once something shows itself to be marketable to a wide number of people, private investors can do the job in the private market. They have every interest in doing so. Why put it into taxes? If lots of people want a product or service, they will buy it and the private market will provide it. If few or no people want it, then government is wasting time and money by seizing money from people to pay for it.
Damon: In a moral, decent society, everybody pays their share. The well-off are paying less in taxes than at any time in my life.
Q: Were you alive in the 1980s?
Q: That was the Reagan era. The top tax rate was 28 percent back then. It has been higher ever since, both under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Bush’s rate was lower than Clinton’s but still higher than Reagan’s. Obama kept Bush’s rate, for now. But about your other point. What’s moral about redistribution of wealth? Money that you honestly earned should not be taken from you by force. You’re free to give away any of it to anybody you want. That includes charity. What do you want government to do with these extra taxes that you feel you should be paying, but are choosing not to pay? Wherever you want that money to go, I’m sure there’s a private charity willing to take it. If you want to help them, nobody will stop you.
Damon: That’s not the point. People should be forced to honor their moral obligation to society. They should want to do so.
Q: So it’s not really about helping, is it? It’s about giving up. If helping were the goal, you’d devote half of your work week — since 50 percent seems to be your cutoff number — to helping those you deem deserving. But it sounds like you’re more concerned that people be forced to give up, for the sake of giving up. Why do you have such hostility towards your fellow actors and other people who have earned a lot of money? I’m sure you worked hard to establish your career, and still do to maintain it. I’m sure you took a lot of risks. Why do you feel others who are currently struggling, as you once did, must be punished? You want people making $250,000 or $300,000 a year to be punished, as well. They’re frankly poor compared to you. Why punish them? Why must they give up half their income? That half means a lot more to them than it does to you. And why punish yourself with higher taxes? You’re free to help whomever you want with your millions. But you want someone to command you to surrender that money, merely because they demand it. That sounds a little masochistic to me.
Damon: I can assure you that I have been to the best psychotherapists in Hollywood, and I can assure you that they all affirm everything I’m saying.
Q: I’ll bet they do. But let me ask you one more thing. You said that paying more in taxes is not a problem, because you “get to be an American.” But America was founded on the principle that individual rights are a given. Rights are inherent in your nature. Liberals such as yourself make the same point, when you’re arguing for various things you support. But when you talk about paying more in taxes in exchange for being an American, you’re implying that those individual rights are a privilege, not a right. Are you suggesting that we have the rights we do at the consent of the government? Do the people belong to the government, or does the government operate at the consent of the people?
Damon: Of course the government operates at the consent of the people — provided the people are right. The Tea Party isn’t right; Obama is.
If Matt Damon is this disgusted and outraged over the measly concessions made by liberal Democrats and establishment Republicans in the recent budget impasse, then just imagine how he’d feel about a real challenge to the authority of the socialists who rule us. He cannot blame the Tea Party for the fact that the socialists have run out of other people’s money. He cannot blame the Tea Party for the fact that under the stranglehold of Big Government, the private sector simply will not grow. Without a growing economy, Mr. Damon’s beloved welfare state won’t be around much longer anyway.
Matt Damon won’t be required to answer these questions in some fluff interview with a liberal reporter. But increasingly, our politicians will.