Why Shouldn’t the Poor and Middle Class Pay Taxes Too?

Some people criticize Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan for the wrong reasons. Advocates of wealth redistribution complain that it raises taxes on the lower and middle working classes. This is true. Many of them will actually have to start paying some taxes rather than none at all.

So what?

All of these people who currently pay little or nothing in taxes are subject to receiving all the benefits that are paid for by taxes. They receive the benefits of a military and roads paid for with federal dollars. They receive public schools for their children (if you want to call this a benefit), partially paid for with federal dollars from the Department of Education. They receive Social Security, Medicare and are eligible to potentially go on government disability and receive Medicaid. They are subject to receiving unemployment benefits.

Why shouldn’t they pay at least something in taxes for all these benefits?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m against government being involved in providing benefits in the first place. I maintain that all of this should be left to a private market, and/or to private and voluntary charity. But I know most people don’t agree with me. So I’ll grant most people their premise, in this one instance: That we should have all these welfare state benefits.

And I’ll repeat my question: Why shouldn’t the middle and poorer classes pay something for them?

Even if you think the rich should pay more, there aren’t enough rich to cover the always expanding demand for government benefits. The tiny portion of the very richest already pay at least half of the tax bills for everything government does. There aren’t enough rich to pay off the deficit, and there never will be. Sooner or later, the 98 percent who aren’t super rich are going to have to start paying something.

Herman Cain has an opportunity to defend his plan in this respect. I know he probably won’t. He’ll probably just get defensive and claim, “My plan does not raise taxes on the middle class.” Instead, he should use this opportunity to say, “Hey middle class. You want these benefits? It’s time you pay for them. If you don’t want the benefits that much, then we can talk about doing away with them.” I don’t expect Herman Cain to do this, as much as I wish he would. And I know that if he did, liberals such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would breath fire down his back. It’s unfortunate, because this is all an unpleasant part of reality that both Americans and their politicians should face.

We’re always being lectured to about “fairness,” by politicians of all people. Nobody ever talks about the inherent unfairness of the welfare state. The welfare state provides benefits for people who, for the most part, pay little or nothing for those benefits — even when they were still working and didn’t need those benefits. This is considered only “fair” since the people who do pay for these benefits make more money. OK, then. If people who make less money shouldn’t have to pay for their unemployment insurance, their medical care or their retirement pensions, then why don’t wealthier people pay for everything? Why shouldn’t the poor and the middle class stay home all day while those who make over $250,000 a year pay their mortgages, the car payments, and all their other expenses?

People who buy into this standard of socialism evade the impact it’s having on those who are forced to pay for it. They’re counting on the people who pay the taxes to have no issues with doing so, and to simply do their duty. In the meantime, the welfare class expands. The demand for middle class welfare benefits knows no bottom. It goes from an occasional and rare necessity to a full-fledged entitlement that the majority of people expect. Yet those very same people who feel entitled to all these government benefits and services are outraged at any suggestion they must pay part of the bill.

This is the brick wall that Herman Cain’s initially popular 9-9-9 proposal has run into, and it was inevitable. Why? Because you cannot evade the issue of morality and fairness when trying to come up with a better method of taxation. Taxation implies a moral judgment. You tax people because you believe they’re morally obliged to pay for something. You can’t simply say, “Let’s make the method of taxation cleaner and simpler.” Cleaner and simpler are virtues, to be sure, but they’re not a replacement for the value judgments required in defending your tax policies in the first place.

Mr. Cain, are you prepared to defend your tax plan on moral grounds? If so, you might actually get somewhere, and you might contribute something to this country whether your specific tax plan passes or not. You might encourage people to start debating the real issues. Or, you can do like everyone else and evade the real issues — ensuring that your own candidacy becomes just another asterisk in political history.