Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Skin in the Game

The phrase "Skin in the Game" became a popular one during the last election cycle among Republican candidates. The argument is that only those who pay taxes (the "skin in the game") should have a say in how our nation is run. They talk about broadening the tax base, and getting more people to pay taxes so that more people are directly involved in our democracy.

It's crap.

As an article on Addicting Info recently pointed out, the idea behind SITG is being taken to a greater extreme in some conservative circles. This video from the article shows Bryan Fischer suggesting that only property owners should be voting.

Of course, I realize that many conservatives don't believe that, but it concerns me that the super-conservative base does when most mainstream candidates are listening to that base in the primaries and even into the general election.

The problem with the SITG idea is that it completely ignores why many people don't pay any taxes at all. It's because they're poor. The Republicans may scream and make a fuss about class warfare, and may complain about the Democrats trying to overthrow the wealthy and make America into an egalitarian slum, but SITG is Republican class warfare right back. And, as I said, Republicans who support this notion don't seem to know what poor really means.

I would also like to point out that, if Republicans were to actually pursue this theory to the point that Fischer makes, they will be removing the right to vote from American citizens. Not only does that fly in the face of Democracy and the Constitution, it would also eliminate a good number of voters from both the Democrat and Republican base.

So, the idea behind skin in the game, while definitely a conservative wet-dream, doesn't really work in America. This is a country of, by, and for the people, not of, by, and for the wealthy people. The notion of broadening the tax base to create more revenue means taxing those who are too poor to pay taxes now, cutting into their ability to pay for basic necessities. Besides which, the amount of tax money squeezed from the poor is nowhere near as much as could be taken from the wealthy who can actually afford it. There are some great tax possibilities that would barely impact the economy or the wealth of high-income Americans while protecting the poor from taxation that they can't afford.

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