To hear Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren tell it, successful business owners get rich off the efforts of taxpayers and contribute nothing in return until they pay a hefty tax bill themselves. Warren gets the story exactly backwards.
Productive business leaders create the wealth that enables us to thrive, seek employment, and on the side pay for governmental services. Such producers typically work long hours, often for years with little pay, risking their own time and money to bring their vision to life. They turn metals, gasses, plants, and other natural resources into valuable commodities, and they direct others’ labor to more prosperous ends, expanding our quality of life.
Some say business leaders should “give something back.” But those operating in a free market never took anything from anybody, except in voluntary and mutually beneficial trade. Instead, they produce the goods and services — the computers and cell phones, the health care, the books and movies, the automobiles, the plumbing pipes — than enrich and extend our lives.
True, some pretenders in businesses shamefully use the political process to loot the taxpayers through “bailouts” and corporate welfare, and they seek to forcibly impair their competitors. But such actions should be stopped, not used as an excuse to vilify the true producers who oppose such political interference on principle.
Great producers deserve our gratitude and respect, not the ugly, envious sneers so often directed at them by today’s political left. Above all these business leaders deserve a government that protects their rights, including their right to produce wealth and use the resulting profits as they judge best.
Warren invokes the “social contract,” but if that means anything sensible it is to protect individuals from the violence, fraud, and plunder of others. In seeking to peacefully pursue our own lives and interact with others on a voluntary basis, we agree to respect the equal rights of others. We institute government to protect those rights for everyone.
Warren argues that business owners use the roads and education system, the “police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” Warren ignores the fact that the most productive already pay the lion’s share of the tax burden. As the Associated Press recently summarized,
The 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The wealthy also pay more in state and local income, sales, and property taxes (where applicable). In other words, the wealthy pay for most of the governmental services that others use.