Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Pox On Both Your Posts

On Dec. 3 Fred Clark questioned evangelical leader and former Nixon aide Chuck Colson's motives for accusing those who want to raise taxes on the rich of class envy:

During every day that [Colson] worked in the White House as one of the most powerful men in the executive branch, the wealthiest Americans were charged double the rate of income tax that they pay today....

[T]he top marginal income-tax rate today is half of what it was during Colson’s service at the top levels of the Nixon administration. And the capital gains tax today — the tax that matters more to the wealthiest Americans who make money from money rather than from work — is even lower. The capital gains tax rate is just 15 percent, which is why Warren Buffett pays a lower rate than his secretary does.

When Chuck Colson was working alongside the president, revenue as share of GDP was 17.6 percent. Today it is 14.4 percent — historically low, the lowest it has been since 1950.

So according to the standard set by his column, Chuck Colson and the rest of the Nixon administration were a bunch of soak-the-rich radical redistributionists driven by socialist envy.

Clark uses the word "socialist" several times, as if Colson had used it against those who wanted to raise taxes on high incomes. But neither that word nor "radical" comes up in Colson's column, which substantially detracts from the irony that Clark claims exists. Colson may well have thought taxes were too high in 1969-73; many conservatives such as he did, but they couldn't do anything about it since the Democrats controlled Congress throughout the Nixon administration. For his part, Colson errs in accusing those who favor higher taxes of falling prey to the sin of envy. Many experts sitting in cushy think tanks who aren't acting out rage akin to that of Russian peasants nonetheless believe that a sensible fiscal solution requires more revenue from the wealthy (whom else? Russian peasants?) than Republican obstructionists are willing to consider.

Neither putting words in an opponent's mouth nor questioning his motives is a good idea, especially in the name of our LORD. Let us reason together, brothers!

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