[H]ere’s the thing about rich people working hard: yes, many of the rich people in our society worked very hard to get where they are today. But even if they did run the fastest, many also started much closer to the finishing line than their poor or working class counterparts. Having even a normal middle-class family gives someone an enormous leg up... The upper class, meanwhile, has built-in business and academic connections and a whole host of other perks and benefits that help hard working upper class kids succeed.
His fellow blogger Doug J pulls no punches:
Why the fuck does it matter what Democrats are willing to acknowledge about how hard some rich people work when they’re not proposing a marginal tax rate much over 40%? For God’s sake, isn’t it enough that we don’t tax rich people much, now we have to get down on our knees and tell them how great they are for working so hard? And what would fellating these geniuses accomplish anyway?
Doug J - with his snarl at the rich - proves my point. As a moral matter, I see no reason why people who work hard shouldn't keep as much of their earnings as possible, and the only reason to tax them is to provide a safety net for the unlucky and sick and poor, and to fund essential functions of government (defense, law and order, public works, education, basic scientific research, etc). But my real point was about making the case for the necessary evil of such taxation in a civil and constructive way. James Joyner gets this right:
The reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.
We need a lot of money to fund a lot of public projects. That would be true even if we just funded the ones that 85 percent of Americans agreed absolutely had to be funded. And people with money are, by definition, going to have to pony up most of it. But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.
Amen. In turn, James gets attacked for using the term "confiscate" in the passage above. And I agree with him again:
If I’d equated taxation with theft, as some do, I’d see the reason for irritation. But that taxation is a confiscation of resources should be obvious.
I too am a conservative who can live with higher taxes because of the need to address the mounting and unsustainable debt - but only with serious cuts in entitlements and defense at the same time. And I find the rhetoric demonizing the "rich" to be counter-productive, uncivil, and revealing a mindset of envy not pragmatism.