Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is the latest in a long line of tax-the-rich intellectuals to assume that anyone who thinks that tax increases are bad for the economy is up to no good.
Here’s what she says in her New York Times’ column The Art of Tax War (emphasis is mine):
The highly charged partisan debate over the future of the Bush tax cuts (scheduled to expire at the end of December) is a kind of war. Whether you term it a class war depends on what you mean by class, but it is certainly a war between the very rich (the top 2 percent of income earners) and a host of other individuals allied with them, against everybody else who gives a darn.
On the battlefield, in the fog of war, it is often difficult to know exactly what is happening, and why.
For Ms. Folbre the tax debate is a battle of good (the people who give a darn) versus evil (the rich and their cronies).
You are either with her or against her.
And if you’re against her she thinks you’re a liar:
[T]hose resisting change have the most to gain from fog – or even from blowing smoke – because uncertainty often works in favor of the status quo.
Since Ms. Folbre believes that because a person favors the status quo he misstates the facts, she must likewise believe that the following individuals who favor the status quo misstate the facts:
- Those who resist replacing our progressive tax system with a flat tax.
- Those who resist the enforcement of Arizona’s new immigration law.
- Those who resist laws that would ban partial birth abortion.
- Those who resisted Bush’s plan to invade Iraq.
- Those who support giving President Obama another term.
Supporting the status quo does not by itself make one a distorter of facts. Consequently, Ms. Folbre might want to amend her smoke-blower rule to make it applicable only to those who favor a status quo with which she disagrees.
That would be absurd, of course, but at least it would be honest.
If you’re still not convinced of the hypocrisy of anti-tax pro-tax academics, witness some more of Folbre’s smoke and fog:
Another strategic goal of opponents of the tax increase is to split and weaken the coalition favoring it. In this context, it is advantageous to label those receiving public assistance (including unemployment insurance) as slackers and cheats.
Ms. Folbre’s goal here is not to educate readers, but rather to prevent them from recognizing that it’s the anti-rich crowd that repeatedly and stridently plays the class warfare game by creating in the minds of the non-rich the notion that the rich have become rich only by cheating them out of what is rightfully theirs.
And if you think that was foggy, the following doozy is a veritable cumulonimbus cloud (emphasis added):
About 47 percent of Americans owed no federal income tax in 2009, which you might think people opposed to federal income taxes would consider good news. Instead, the conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh characterized this as a form of fraud, “worse than anything Bernie Madoff ever thought about doing.”
The highlighted statement is so disingenuous a sort of grandeur creeps into it.
Do you think for a second that Ms. Folbre does not know that anti-tax conservatives object to tax increases on the rich because they believe them to be a form of wealth redistribution? And is it possible that she does not know that the fact that the wealthiest Americans are funding the entire federal government is, at least for conservatives, evidence of this wealth redistribution?
Of course, she knows this. She’s just blowing smoke.