Todd Weber's Random Thoughts

October 12, 2010

No State Income Tax for Washington! No on I-1098!

Here is the  letter I sent today to the editor of my union’s newspaper in response to a letter from a supporter of the pro-income tax initiative in the state of Washington. In respect of his privacy, I have withheld the name of the person to whom I am responding.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Mr. X’s letter in the October 2010 issue of the News Review titled “Shell Game” in which he made several bold, yet unsubstantiated statements to support his argument in favor of I-1098, which would create a state income tax in Washington.

He suggested that millionaires are to blame for the sorry state of the economy, and said, “No matter how much the local millionaires try to lie about it, it is an inescapable fact that the more money one has, the more they owe the society…”

I am certainly not a millionaire, nor do I know any. However, I am a firm believer and supporter of the right and freedom of individuals to pursue profit and prosperity through any and all legal means available, and to keep and use the fruit of their labor as they choose. As one who hopes to one day achieve such prosperity myself, I respect and admire those who have already done so.

Wealth is not a zero-sum game in which we all draw from a limited pool of resources and those who get ahead do so at the expense of those who do not. To say that “Wages in the private sector are falling because CEO wages are rising” is unfounded and preposterous.

Instead of inciting discontent, class envy, and trying to pull successful people down to a common level of mediocrity and misery, we ought to celebrate the freedom and opportunities that make success and prosperity possible and find ways to encourage and inspire the rest of us to better ourselves through hard work, creativity and thrift.

A state income tax is not the answer to Washington’s economic woes. Currently, forty-one states tax personal incomes. California is one of several states which have both retail sales taxes and income tax, and both are among the highest in the nation. How well is that working for California? Can you say, “bankrupt”? The point is that implementing an income tax in Washington will not solve the state’s problems any better than it has for California. The problem is not too little revenue, but too much spending.

Mr. X believes millionaires owe more to society than the rest of us and that taxation is the proper means of obtaining such “contributions” (read: compulsory redistribution). I whole-heartedly disagree. Many high-wealth individuals already give back to society of their own free will – the way it should be. For example, Jack Benaroya donated over $15.8M to build a home for the Seattle Symphony, now known as Benaroya Hall, for the benefit of citizens of Seattle.

Paul Allen plans to leave the majority of his $13-billion estate to fund scientific research, and his charitable giving already totals over $1-billion. Moreover, The Allen Family Foundation recently announced $3.9M in new funding for 41 non-profit organizations in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle Times, 7/15/10).

The Seattle Times (5/24/10) notes that numerous “Microsoft alumni have founded and supported more than 150 non-profit organizations and social ventures working around the world…Employee giving and company matching funds totaled almost $90M last year…”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $27M to help the urban poor in Africa (Seattle Times, 9/30/10). As part of their “Giving Pledge,” Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and many other super-rich have voluntarily pledged to give substantial portions of their wealth to charity.

These are only a few examples of the countless individuals and corporations who, every year, voluntarily give back to, as Mr. X said, “the society that provided them with the situations and opportunities to accumulate that wealth in the first place.”  All this is beside the well-known fact that wealthy Americans already pay “a higher overall tax rate than any other group,” while “about 10 percent of households pay no net federal taxes” (New York Times, 4/13/10).

I believe the solutions to our economic challenges include: 1) reducing the size and cost of government; 2) relieving businesses and individuals of onerous tax and regulatory burdens; and 3) encouraging personal responsibility and industry rather than a sense of entitlement.

The real “shell game” is in the continual surrender of our wealth and freedom for the promise of ever-more governmental care and provision. Let’s stop whining and confiscating the success of others, and start taking responsibility for ourselves.

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. Enjoyed the read. Agree with you 100%.

    Comment by Dena T — October 19, 2010 @ 10:43 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: