Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Clarifying The Sophistry


In terms of intelligence, as limned by reasonableness and logic, this is completely cockeyed. He is saying it is not fair for a rich person to save 39 cents of tax per charity dollar while a middle-class person only saves 28. The fallacy is obvious. The idea of charity being deducted is the notion that the society is being helped by direct action in a way which obviates the need for taxation.

Take that homeless shelter down the street. It receives some of its dollars from citizens, some from the government. There is no point in the government taking part of your dollar to give to the homeless shelter when you are prepared to give it the entire dollar.

Thus it is not true to say the dollar you give to the shelter is untaxed. On the contrary, it is taxed at the rate of 100 percent, a taxation to which you have submitted voluntarily. At this point, government has no interest in blocking your transaction, since you are achieving the same charitable end without its intervention.

If a man in a 39 percent tax bracket gives that dollar and we only allow him a 28 cent deduction, we are de facto taxing him at a rate of 111%. In essence, he has to write the government an eleven-dollar check to give the homeless shelter in order to get permission to give his hundred dollars to the same shelter. This is fairness… on which planet?


NOW TO MORALITY. Clearly, what propels this illogic is a sense that a person exercising disposition of his own philanthropy is a usurper, an interloper, an underminer of government as the sapient determiner of need. Who is this private bozo to say this widow should rather be helped than that orphan? It is best left to government as impersonal arbiter of fate and collector of vital statistics to apportion benefits based on its assessment of social equity.

This vision of government as a moral agent superior to the individual citizen informs all the policy thinking of Obama and the intellectual wing of the Democrat party. To see it operate to such an extent is fascinating. Think of the mind-set required to describe a person giving a spontaneous gift to charity as "getting a tax break"!

Notice also the sanctimoniousness of saying that if it is "really" a charitable contribution, the tax implications should not be a consideration. This again deflects the main moral reality here; namely, the government taxing him on the dollar he gave away to the homeless shelter is the monstrous act of moral blindness. To call him crass for noticing the injustice is a crowning iniquity. This man took a rightfully earned dollar and turned it over unselfishly to the poor, and the government wants to charge him 11 cents for the right.

The rest of the article deconstructs a third bit of sophistry.

1 comment:

Sleeping Beastly said...

The one point the article seems to be missing is that charitable contributions can lead to a person's income being puhed into a lower tax bracket. It's not just a matter of how much tax they pay on the dollars they give to charity, but what percentage of tax they pay on the remainder of their income. I still think it's a good idea to allow charitable donations to go untaxed, but the author of the article should not confuse the matter.