This is a view that is held by many on in the Republican party. I don't think that the number is that high. Certainly, there are 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax. Many of those 47% actually get money in the form of a Tax Refund that come from a negative tax liability from tax credits.
I went on to Facebook and to other forms of social media to take a look at what was being said, and to try and dissect the mindset that some of these people who were dependent on the Government. I come at this little unscientific social experiment with my own mind set of disdain for any government assistance, what so ever. I actually spent my self nearly in to debt paying off my wife's student loans when they were forcibly taken from the private banking institution we were lending from and put in to Government hands. Interestingly enough, the government still believes that I have a balance on these loans, even though I have letters and receipts saying that I do not. I expect to be fighting them for quite some time.
I digress, I went on to the various liberal web sites, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The Daily Kos, and watched what was being said on Facebook sites.
What I found was extremely interesting. An amazing amount of people openly deceive themselves on exactly what dependence is, and vociferously deny an entitlement attitude while obviously displaying one. Another vocal group has no idea what a tax credit is, how they work, but are positive that the rich have more than they do. Nearly everyone, conservative or liberal, have very little idea what the tax brackets actually are, and almost everyone knows the difference between income tax and capital gains tax. The fictional "effective" tax rate is bandied about like some sort of mythical sword that slayes the evil hording Smaug that is "the rich" (Little Hobbit reference for you there, apt in this context, no?)
What I also found very very interesting was the definition of who was "rich." Almost to a man the liberals said that anyone making over $250,000 a year was rich. When asked where they got this figure, they all said from the government. When informed that the government has no such distinction, they go absolutely insane. If anything, the government says that if you make $388,350 a year you are rich, because that is what puts you in to the highest tax bracket. But nowhere, in current law, does it say that $250K is the line between "rich" and... well... no one can define what is the "class" that limits on $249K. It isn't middle, because $249K is still a lot of money.
So, in to this land of no definitions I went. My main problem going in was this acceptance of no definition of terms. The phrase, "Everybody knows" is thrown about as a definition, or as if this is its own evidence. I have to admit that my arguments were sometimes completely stymied by my instance that terms be defined. Apparently, it is acceptable now a days to derive conclusions and form entire world views on things that have no solid definition. I don't know how this is done, but... wow. It is evident that Science was not a strong subject for well... the entire Internet.
Anyway getting back to my very unscientific findings. I broke down the people receiving assistance and voting for the President in to three groups:
- Receiving assistance, and not working, or caring to ever not receive assistance.
- Receiving assistance, but working.
- Receiving assistance, but not knowing that they are receiving assistance.
The first two groups had very similar arguments for receiving their assistance. They were too injured/fat/lazy to work and needed money to live. Or they couldn't find a job, or they were caring for dependents that they needed money for.
When directly asked by what right they had to my earnings, many said that they weren't taking my earnings, they were being "given" money from the Government. One actually said they were being given money directly from President Obama. I ignored this person entirely, because... well... they are a moron and you can't have an intellectual discussion with stupid.
Learning that these people thought they were receiving money not from me, but from the Government pointed to a fundamental misunderstanding of how Government gets its money. When told that my tax dollars went to fund their gifts from the Government, arguments switched to "Who is going to take care of my children/father/mother?"
This is a fundamental emotional argument. If I say "You" I am a heartless person who only wants to see children and old people dead in the street. This is, of course, not true, but it is very effective at shutting the faint of heart up. Since I don't care, I did say YOU, and dealt with the fallout.
Those that received assistance, but were working had an other interesting, but false, claim to the money. They claimed that they "worked hard" and deserved the money because they could not afford their lifestyles. It was because they "worked hard" that they felt that I and the rest of the tax payers "owed" them something.
I have never really dealt with this kind of argument before. These people were serious. One said that he worked harder than any CEO, so he deserves the money that the CEO makes. I admit this kind of thinking is absolutely foreign to me. I can not make the logical connection between hard work at a low paying job and the CEO owing me more money than they are willing to compensate me for the job that I have done. My brain just shorts out there.
The ones that receive assistance, but don't know they are receiving assistance have one of two mental issues. They either have convinced themselves that they are not receiving assistance, and can not be told otherwise, or they don't know how their taxes work so they don't know that their tax refund is not actually money that they paid, it is negative tax liability coming back to them.
If you are looking to buy votes, there is nothing better than a tax credit to do it. The people who pay taxes get to pay less tax, and the people who don't pay taxes get government money put in to their pocket. How do tax credits work? Well say you have a tax liability of $1000, and I have one of $0. We both receive a tax credit for $100. Now your tax burden is $900, and mine is -$100. You cut a smaller check to Uncle Sam, and I get a $100 check from the Treasury. But you didn't pay any tax!!!! Yup, I didn't, but I am still owed the "credit." Many of the Bush Tax Cuts are set up this way. Those that do not pay tax, are still getting money. This is one way that you receive government assistance without knowing it.
As far as pointing out that someone has an entitlement mindset... I actually found it a lot of fun reading what these people were trying to say wasn't an entitlement mindset, when it obviously was. Many of them went like: I don't have an entitlement mindset.
But, you feel you owed, or entitled to the money you receive.
No, but I need it because I work hard, need for kids/mom/dad/dog/iPhone, etc
What would happen if that money went a way.
I would raise holy hell.
That isn't you feeling entitled, or like a victim because you need to take care of your insert care thing here?
No. Because who would take care of my cat? give me an iPhone? pay my house payment? I need the money
But that is the definition of an entitlement mindset.
No. Because I need these things.
A lot of fun was had when probing these people's finances and what they had in their houses. All had a computer. All had a car. All had very nice large screen TVs. All had air conditioning. All had cell phones with data plans. All had WAY more than enough to eat. All went out to eat at least once a week. All had access to or outright owned one or more game console. All had cable or satellite television. All had broadband internet connectivity. NONE thought that they needed to give up any of these luxuries, because they were receiving government assistance. The mindset was overwhelmingly along the lines of "Everybody has these things, why shouldn't I?"
A familiar counter argument or justification for the assistance was that "everyone" receives government assistance in one way or another. Roads, public works, police force, military protection, etc. This argument should fall apart when it is pointed out that these services are public services that are shared, and that the assistance to the individual is a transfer of property from one private party to another private party. That distinction is lost on may of these people.
At the end of the day, there is a stark difference in thinking between myself and those that receive government assistance. I will go out of my way to avoid the chains of government servitude. Others willingly embrace the slavery that comes with government control. I want to live free, they simply want to live in a land where Big Brother takes care of them from cradle to grave.