Fair Share

I’m sick to death from hearing this idiotic expression “pay their fair share of taxes.” Like in this quote:

America’s workers and the American economy need jobs, not cuts; for the wealthy to pay their fair share, not for working people to sacrifice more.

I know it sounds very pithy and even rhymes a bit, but don’t people see how stupid this expression is? Have you heard anything more vague and meaningless than “their fair share”? Who are “they”? What is a “fair share”? Surely, everybody believes that the taxes they pay are fair. It’s the actual percentage of what constitutes “fair” for each group that is in question.

There is stupidity on both sides, and the more idiotic a discourse is, the more popular it becomes. “The fair share of taxes” is the progressive equivalent of the conservative “socialist Obama.”

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15 comments on “Fair Share

  1. What Obama means by ‘fair share’ will raise about 4/365ths of what is required to eliminate the deficit. That is what happens when an economic moron is elected into the presidency. The American people are responsible for this fiscal mess. They are addicted to having something for nothing. Gain without pain, except for the top 2 per cent. Well the top 2 percent cannot conceivably close the gap. To shut down the defficit every American including the very poor will contribute, whatever some politician mouths. I have been articulating this for many months. And I know that I shall be proved correct. Because the numbers rarely lie, whereas all politicians lie all the time.

    Rest assured that you and I as middle class Americans, will pay heavily in increased taxes and shuttered entitlements to clean up the fiscal mess over the coming few years.

    • “Rest assured that you and I as middle class Americans, will pay heavily in increased taxes and shuttered entitlements to clean up the fiscal mess over the coming few years.”

      - Oh, you don’t have to convince me. I’m sure you are right. This is precisely why it bothers me so much that my side of the political spectrum bought into this vague but seemingly reassuring rhetoric of the unspecified “fair share” that will immediately cure all ills and make us all rich and happy. I hate vagueness because it always bodes trouble. Even if the capital gains tax goes to 30%, I see no evidence that this will make such a dramatic change for the budget.

  2. I disagree, sort of. “Fair share” is merely vague beyond all meaning. “Socialist Obama” stretches the definition of socialist so much it’s code and almost certainly doublespeak. And it’s also vague.

    As a linguist, I’m sure the politicians and pundits’ sloppiness in using phrases drives you up the wall.

    II think “top 1%” (along with their cousins, “middle class” and “wealthy”) is the progressive counterpart to “socialist Obama”. It allows people to project whatever their notions are onto the phrase and is super vague.

    I posted this article once on another forum because I thought it clarified what “top 1%” meant but nobody wanted to read it and started going off on their own little rants already preformed in their heads.

  3. If everyone’s taxes goes up, as Charles Rowley seems to fear, I will be shocked. Nobody in Congress will vote for that. Americans are much too fearful of government and the average American realy has no idea how taxes work and what they fund (i.e. “keep your government hands off my medicare.”) The only way everyone’s taxes will go up is it Republicans force “the fiscal cliff issue.”

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind if my taxes go up. The Bush tax cuts made about a $500.00 a year difference to me–if that. I think it was actually closer to $100.00. I will gladly pay $100-$500 more in to the system. And I think it’s unconscionable that people who are among the top 1% of all earners in the country are putting up a fight about tax cuts that should have expired by now.

    I guess I have no problem with the term “fair share.” It’s short hand. The wealthy simply need to pay more in taxes. But I agree that it would be better if we had some more specific conversations about wealth distrubution in this country. People need to understand in terms of “real dollars” how the Bush tax cuts unevenly benefitted the very few at the expense of the many.

      • The cuts only expire if we go “off the fiscal cliff.” If Republicans strike a deal, it’s only the top 1% that will experience a tax hike. And in our tax bracket (assuming we are in the same tax bracket!) it’s a fairly small dollar amount at any rate. I think it’s something like a 1% tax bump. I can’t remember the exact percentage. But it’s small.

  4. I think “fair share” has more in common with “double taxation,” “death tax,” and “job creators” than it has with “socialist Obama.” The former are carefully massaged, focus-group tested phrases to appeal to moderates. “Socialist Obama” is far enough out on the right that it doesn’t work for winning over moderates.

      • “Job creators” are not in the same category either. There are people who create jobs for others. I’m not one of such people but I know those who are. I can touch them, they are very real.

        “Death tax” is simply a metaphor. Like “golden hair.” Everybody knows that golden hair is not covered with gold.

        “Fair share” is problematic because it’s vague. If the statement used instead were “their fair share of 30% of all income” I would have absolutely no problem with it. Other than how clunky it is.

        “Socialist Obama”, on the other hand, is very similar to “fair share” because it is based on a very very vague definition of a socialist that is so wide as to be meaningless.

      • “Double taxation” in this context refers to taxes on corporate dividends (and capital gains). Republicans argue that because corporations pay taxes (ha!), the people who invest in them should not have to pay taxes on the money that the corporations have earned and pass on to their investors. It was a phrase used to justify lowering the tax rates on investments — so money gained through investments is taxed at a lower rate than money gained through a job.

        “Job creators” may be real people, but the Republicans use that phrase to refer to anyone who is in a top tax bracket — including a lot of people who don’t create jobs and implying that higher taxes on the rich will harm all job creators — even though many of the job creators don’t make enough money to be in the high tax brackets.

        “Death tax” implies that everyone’s estate will be taxed. After all, everyone dies. The actual estate tax only taxed the largest estates.

        “Fair share” has that same ring of making it sound like whatever the proposal is will be for everyone’s benefit (or harm), when really a small group of people will benefit (or be harmed) by a proposed policy.

      • ““Double taxation” in this context refers to taxes on corporate dividends (and capital gains).”

        - Ah, OK, I didn’t know. In this case, of course, you are right. I never heard this usage (or never identified it for what it is) but this is absolutely ridiculous.

        ““Job creators” may be real people, but the Republicans use that phrase to refer to anyone who is in a top tax bracket — including a lot of people who don’t create jobs and implying that higher taxes on the rich will harm all job creators — even though many of the job creators don’t make enough money to be in the high tax brackets.”

        - I see, this is the Ayn Randian terminology. I need to spend more time reading Republican sources because I had no idea of this double speak.

        Thank you for taking the time to explain. I had no idea this double-speak existed. I must be very sheltered. :-)

  5. Quoting “for the wealthy to pay their fair share”, Clarissa asks “Who are “they”? What is a “fair share”?”

    1) The wealthy. 2) A graduated tax rate proportionate with their income, and certainly not a _lesser_ rate than the unwealthy (frex, Mitt Romney).

    • “1) The wealthy. 2) A graduated tax rate proportionate with their income, and certainly not a _lesser_ rate than the unwealthy”

      - This is still vague. Why not give an actual percentage? X% on the income of $250K per year, X% on the income of $1 million per year, etc. Otherwise, this is all just empty verbiage.

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