Makers and Takers

Can’t resist chiming in on Mitt’s “47%” comment, as I was asked to do so by USNews and World Report:

I’m a freeloader/slurper from the public trough. But I’m also producing something—educated citizens and workers, and useful research—that taxpayers’ decisions in political markets have determined to be socially valuable.

Read the rest here.

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  1. Julien Couvreur says:

    It is sad that people still perpetuate confusion on a simple concept as “taking”, as you are.

    A worker in the hotel is not taking, he is voluntarily paid by his employer. The employer can choose not to pay the worker, by terminating the employment contract.
    Similarly, Apple does not “take” my money, I give money to Apple, which it accepts; I can stop giving money to Apple by my own decision.
    On the other hand, you are taking, because your salary is tax-funded and taxes are not voluntary. The only effective and peaceful way for me not to pay your salary is to escape the country.

    By the way, this has nothing to do with the value that your work provides. To take an extreme, I am sure even the laziest governmental clerk provides *some* value, occasionally.
    Because your salary is tax-funded and therefore not voluntarily paid, there is no objective way to determine whether it is economical or worthwhile. Spending other people’s money, in particular borrowed money that our children will have to repay, does not constitute “demonstrated preference”.

    You are correct that most people are partly takers, at least at some point in their life. But that does not mean that we should be unclear about what taking means, promote it or consider it normal or healthy.

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  2. James says:

    I think you must have a different understanding of Romney’s 47% comment than I do. I thought he was referring to anyone who does not pay income tax as a freeloader. Now I expect that you, like most public employees, do in fact pay income tax (if not, tell us your secret!), so you’re not one of the “freeloaders”. Whether your product is of value is another question: are the courses you teach required or elective?

    Unfortunately for Romney, there are all sorts of reasons for not paying income tax that don’t quite fit any reasonable definition of “freeloading”, military personel serving in combat zones probably coming top on the list. There are even people like me, who occasionally take time off from a reasonably productive (and income tax paying) working life to do other stuff. Am I freeloading because during one of the years I took off to complete an advanced degree, I didn’t bother working enough to pay income tax? I don’t think so.

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  3. Wes says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Mark says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. Mannyv says:

    It’s interesting how the author self-selected himself into a category that was not one of the original categories. The 47% was the percentage of people who didn’t have a federal liability, as others have pointed out.

    Why the willful distortion of what Romney said?

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  6. TJ Anderson says:

    Except the Taxpayers didn’t decide. Bureaucratic did.

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  7. Ordman says:

    What everyone seems to miss in discussion of this topic is the definition of the role of government in our society. Most would agree the proper role of government is national defense, protection of life and property rights by law enforcement and even building a road or two. All citizens regardless of whether they pay income taxes or not benefit from this kind of government spending. Hence the government employees who perform these jobs can be considered makers of good government. The 58% of federal spending on wealth transfer, a.k.a. Social programs, constitutes the takers. Takers include all Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social dependency program recipients.

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