It’s Patriotic to Do What?

The other day when I appeared on The Takeaway to talk about money and politics, a caller said he thought it was “patriotic” to keep all his money in the stock market and ride things out.

Joe Biden recently said that it’s “patriotic” for the wealthy to pay more taxes.

This got me to thinking: what is patriotic behavior these days, in light of a pair of ongoing wars, a heated presidential election, a super-volatile stock market, a partial nationalization of banks, and all the other chaos that passes for news these days?

I suspect that there are as many answers as there are Americans, if not more. Let’s hear yours.


It is patriotic to sacrifice for the greater good of your country. The greatest failure of many of our current crop of political leaders is their unwillingness to call on the nation to sacrifice, and to set an example of purposeful sacrifice. The federal debt, a mirror of US individual debt, testifies to a general national inability to sacrifice.


"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it."

- George Bernard Shaw


Patriotism is what's keeping my idiot-of-a-government in power. (I'm not American btw)


Wow, it seems that being patriotic is all about shutting up, bending over, dropping your pants and letting the man have his way with you!

If that's patriotism, you can stick it! It sounds like what the Nazis did was just being patriotic judging by what most of the posters here say.

Patriotism - just another excuse to not think for yourself.

Abby, Tucson AZ

Sorry, the Duke Trust has been operating for over 63 years and has distributed $26 million. How 'bout that Paul Newman? What a man.


It is patriotic to hope and seek the perpetual improvement of your country.


My country right or wrong. When right to keep it right, when wrong, to make it right!


If we are to follow the encouragement of many of our 'great' national leaders, then it is patriotic to continue to consume at unsustainable levels despite the fact that such excessive consumption may very well be at the root of many of our nations problems.


patriotism kills.

i'm a citizen of the world.

Abby, Tucson, AZ

Thank you for the invitation to wax on the topic of taxes and patriotism. The later always makes me cautious as to the reason it is raised.

There is only one tax that has been levied explicitly through US history that pays for the blood of true patriots, the Federal Estate Tax.

Historicaly, estate taxes were imposed by the Federal Government in times of war until the debt was paid. Those wealthy enough at the time of death to pay estate taxes honored the blood our nation's youth sacrificed to secure that fortune, as well as the national treasure lost to pursue the fight. The estate tax was also intended to modify the impulse to go to war.

Americans, today, are ignorant of this fact and wonder how we will ever pay for the wars we have at present. Well, the fact is we've been letting the wealthy walk on the check for eight years. This is primarily because we've fallen for the "aspirational" tactics employed against the middle class and the poor. (In China, people aspire to eat at McDonald's someday. What a scam.)

I hope anyone today who dreams of becoming wealthy knows they are privilidged to pay the price our patriots paid for our security. Only by paying this tax, would I recognize wealthy folks like Dick Cheney as patriots. Campaigning to get rid of it was treason commited by greedy and/or gullable people mostly facilitated by the Republican Party.

The Estate Tax has been so successfully demonized over the last thirty years that next year, 2009, is the year for rich people to die. There will be 0% Estate Tax. 2010, the tax returns to its pre-Bush Tax Cuts level: 45% to 50% on assets over 600K. There are so many manners by which this tax is avoided, only the fithy rich have a bone to pick. For example, Doris Duke's trust, which has offered $26 million in crumbs over the last 45 years compared to Paul Newman's $250 million in his later life, was instituted because the trust money only paid an estate tax rate of 15%. That trust saved a lot more the $26 million dollars from the Estate Tax.

So the next time you hear someone whining about the estate tax, they either haven't consulted an estate planner, are WAY too rich, or don't have a clue.. Clue them in, will you?



Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security.

The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power.


Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel - Samuel Johnson

Michael Casp

Patriotism is demanding a government that protects freedoms while being fiscally responsible.


@99 I didn't say Marxist socialism was UNpatriotic. I said it had nothing to to with patriotism.

It can be patriotic to willingly support charitable and social causes with time and money. It is patriotic to volunteer for military, Peace Corps or other civil service for the benefit of the country.

Nevertheless, is someone who pays more taxes than 99% of most Americans, more patriotic than those who pay less? If someone pays a bigger percentage of their income through progressive taxation, does that make them better citizen?

Tax policy is not about patriotism. It underpins a perspective on the role of government in society. The Constitution is fundamentally based on limited government and individual rights (including property rights). More taxes means bigger government and more involuntary taking of property.

Biden believes that government should decide when an individual makes too much money. Biden would then take away the excess and redistribute it to those who are apparently more entitled (or at least fit a Democrat demographic). Biden believes that more government will solve our problems.

I don't agree.



@97 So, patriotism is simply showing love of country? A little flag magnet on my car is all I need to be a patriot? Whew--that's a relief! I don't want to have to actually do anything to be a patriot, like actually sacrifice something of my own. Per Biden's comment: a true patriot helps their country in need. CEO's were making 300 times more $ than their employees and bringing home millions. Businesses were moving overseas and paying slave wages while our inner cities were slowly eroding. Meanwhile, we're supposed to give corporations tax breaks in the hopes that they would reinvest in their country? I think they've showed us how patriotic they are... I fully agree with Biden.

Frugal Fred

It's patriotic to demand everyday low prices.


Joan of Arc

worlds greatest patriot

Uncle Sven

Patriotism is the regrettable by-product of arbitrarily dividing humanity into nations with borders, and then letting capital but not labour cross those borders.


It is patriotic to keep the government in check, to make sure it does not infringe on our natural rights or abuse its power.

A people should not be loyal to their government. Government should be loyal to its people.


Patriotism is to do something that improves the well-being of our country. The problem is that believing that something improves a country does not mean that it really does. For example, buying American products in many cases does not improve anything. Some wars do not make life better in America. So I guess that Patriotism is like religion: the thought is what counts. And like religion, it's sometimes a dangerous tool.