I'm sorry but I cannot use the term "progressive" without some acid reflux. But I do understand why some "spreading the wealth" may be a necessary evil. As a reader writes:
I think there is a prudential reason for maintaining a progressive tax system (and we certainly can argue about "how" progressive it should be): namely, that if you believe, as I do, that the U.S. is best served by maintaining a capitalist system and a free market, we have to accept that one of the natural consequences of such a system is the accumulation of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.Regardless of whether these fewer and fewer deserve the money they accumulate or are unfairly being punished by progressive taxation, the political consequence of such an accumulation of wealth is radicalism - a majority that uses its political power to destroy the system rather than simply to modify it.In other words, progressive taxation is required to maintain the political viability of a free market.
This is also how a pragmatic conservative can still live with an Obama presidency.
We have seen a massive shift in income inequality in the last couple of decades. Over time, that inequality can destabilize a democracy. It removes many from income tax altogether, it concentrates wealth in too few hands who can use it to corrupt the political system, and it leads to an oligarchy susceptible to populist onslaught (hello, Mr Dobbs). Aristotle's advice that polities should be concerned about the strength of the middle class, and that no democracy can long endure without one, is well worth absorbing.
Conservatism is not an ideology. It's a disposition. And sometimes it takes what Oakeshott called "trimming" to keep the ship afloat. Moderation matters. In some ways, I see Obama as a return to moderation in American politics. And it's conservatives who have become ideologues who cannot accept it.
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