So many people I talk to seem to be so angry about the idea that anybody should get something without working for it. Most of the time they're referring to government handouts, like welfare. And most seem adamant that everyone should pay their "fair share" of taxes, even if they don't make much money.
This is the good, old-fashioned worth ethic, the stoic Judeo-Christian doctrine epitomized in the phrase from the Old Testament, "by the sweat of your brow, you shall earn your keep." Many regard this as the way things are, as expressed in the phrase, "there is no such thing as a free lunch." In reality, it doesn't seem to apply to everyone, and not just to the people on welfare.
When I was in high school, back in the early '60s, I worked in a machine shop after school, where many good people from West Virginia were employed. They worked 12 to 16 hours a day for probably $2 per hour. (My salary was $1.05 an hour.) This was tedious, dirty work, and we earned every penny.
My uncle, on the other hand, was an insurance broker. He drove a big red Buick convertible, wore a straw hat, and belonged to the country club, where he played golf at noon after making a few deals in his office in the morning. I couldn't help feeling that something was wrong with this picture.
But when we pay close to $5 a gallon for gas, I hear the ships are backed up in the harbors waiting to unload, and no new oil refineries have been built for years, I start feeling that some sort of price controlling is going on here. Aren't those windfall profits handouts of a sort? And when I hear what salaries and bonuses some of these corporate CEOs make, I can't help being skeptical about the sweat on their brows. It just doesn't seem like they earn every penny. Does no one apply the work ethic to the opulent?
What is one's "fair share" of taxes, anyway? It used to be the more you made the more you paid. That applied to my uncle, too, and he still seemed pretty wealthy. What with the bigger and bigger disparity of wealth we have today, it doesn't seem too out of line to me that the wealthy should cough up a few more tax dollars, even if it does seem like a few more freebies for the poor.