UnWarrented

by Don Boudreaux on September 28, 2011

in Hubris and humility, Man of System, Myths and Fallacies, Other People's Money, Seen and Unseen, Video

In Thursday’s (Sept. 29th’s) Wall Street Journal, Russ tackles Elizabeth Warren’s recent claim that, because government (allegedly) contributes x toward each successful entrepreneur’s and investor’s prosperity, each such entrepreneur and investor is morally obliged to fork over to government x + (whatever additional sums the current gaggle of government officials claims government ‘needs’).

Warren’s is a frightening – and frighteningly mistake and non sequitur filled – assertion.

Russ does a splendid job challenging Warren’s assertion.  Here are a couple of paragraphs:

Ms. Warren implies that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. I’m not sure what that is, but they’re already paying a lot of taxes. In the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office, from 2007, the top 1% of households paid 28.1% of all federal tax revenue—income taxes, payroll taxes and so on—for a total of $722 billion. That would buy plenty of roads, police and fire protection—and plenty of education, too.

But perhaps Ms. Warren shouldn’t mention education. Government does such a bad job educating workers in the public school system that businesses have to spend a lot of money training their work forces in basic skills. Does that mean entrepreneurs and factory owners can get a partial refund on their taxes?

UPDATE: My good buddy Todd Zywicki, from over in GMU’s School of Law, e-mails me to say that he also especially appreciates Rich Lowry’s observation that crediting government with the success of entrepreneurs in the market is like crediting the person who built Bill Gates’s parents’ garage with the success of Microsoft: Microsoft was, after all, founded in the Gates’s garage.

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