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Required bad investment: Paying taxes

The economy is stagnant, job creation is practically nonexistent and the national debt is exploding out of control – so what are we talking about in this presidential campaign? Whether or not Mitt Romney has paid all his taxes. And why are we talking about this?

Oh. Right. Because the last thing President Obama wants to talk about is his record.

Now let’s stipulate that everyone should pay their taxes, and let’s also stipulate that Mitt Romney certainly has paid his – the shameless smears of Harry Reid and other Obama surrogates notwithstanding.

But there’s another aspect of this issue that tends to be overlooked. Why do Democrats (and some Republicans) think the most important thing anyone can do with their money is pay taxes? You hear this during every election cycle – demands that this or that candidate (especially the wealthy ones, if they are Republicans) release all their tax returns, and not only that, but prove that they have not paid too low a rate.

Apparently it’s a campaign issue that Gov. Romney may have only paid a 13.9 percent rate on some of his income. That’s an odd controversy, because if he paid 13.9 percent, it’s because that’s the rate he was required by law to pay!

There are reasons we tax investment income at lower rates, and we could spend time here getting into that, but the more important question here is what made so many politicians and members of the media decide that every dollar not paid in taxes is a bad dollar?

People who accumulate a lot of wealth do a lot of things with that wealth. Sometimes they put it at risk to start businesses, or in Mitt Romney’s case, to try to rescue businesses that are struggling. Sometimes they invest it in stocks, in mutual funds or in pension funds. If you’re drawing a pension right now, you can probably thank a rich person who invested in your pension fund.

Sometimes wealthy people simply buy things. I’ve always thought it was funny that Keynesians – who are obsessed with trying to spur the economy by increasing consumer demand – get upset when rich people buy luxury items. Remember when Bill Clinton put a “luxury surcharge” on high-priced items? That may have been the dumbest economic policy ever implemented (at least until Obama came along). When someone buys a yacht, some middle-class worker who helps to build those yachts gets a paycheck. So do the people who make the parts that are used to assemble the yacht.

Do you seriously mean to tell me that a wealthy person does more good for the economy, and for others, by sending a check to the government than by purchasing goods and investing in the productive sector?

What this really shows us is the hubris of the political class. When some self-important senator demands to know, from his high and mighty perch in Washington, D.C., whether you or someone else has paid enough in taxes – he is letting you know he believes everything revolves around government. Furthermore, he thinks (as do most of his colleagues, as do most of the media) the citizenry exists to serve the government.

That’s why they think the worst possible accusation they can make about you is that you haven’t paid enough in taxes.

Listen, take it from a guy who actually ran for president: I’ve paid all my taxes, but I sure as hell haven’t paid one more cent than I was required to, and I never will! Of all the things I can do with my money to make a positive difference for this country, or for the people around me, sending it to these schleps in Washington is definitely at the bottom of the list.


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