I recently read a letter to the editor in a small midwestern newspaper where the writer of the letter offered a complaint about demands that the rich pay an equal or higher tax rate than the poor. The author’s argument was based on the idea that the rich start from an equal footing as everybody else and that they are rich simply by virtue of their personal abilities. Though it is true many people are rich because of their personal abilities, many people are not poor for this same reason. What this author fails to realize is that all citizens of the United States are not on an equal footing. Some Americans are raised in secure environments with decent education and financially secure families. Many, however, grow up in poverty, with excessive crime and inadequate education. How can somebody think that a person from the ghetto and a person from Malibu have the same opportunities? Hell, this very notion is reinforced by research on identical twins separated at birth. A person is a product of their environment.
What the author of this letter needs to realize is that there is a reason many people advocate higher taxes on those with more money. It is not that people advocate a planned economy, or communism, or any other related idea. It is that many people demand a country of equal opportunity; a country where a black child from east LA would receive the same education as a white child from Bel Aire. The redistribution of income is not meant to be an exercise in providing a free ride for “lazy” people. Rather, it is an effort to improve the quality of life throughout the country with the intention of creating a land where each person can succeed or fail based on their personal merits. I hope that is not too much to ask.