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Money Made is Not Money Earned


Whenever I hear someone use the words "self-reliance" and "liberty" to protect the wealthy (corporations in particular) from paying more taxes it is difficult not to wince at the obscenity of these beliefs.   Likening a moral/progressive tax system to "picking" the pockets of the private-sector shows how pervasive the doxa of neo-liberal capitalist relations has become…

If one takes a reflexive pause it becomes quite impossible to say that Bill Gates, Ratan Tata, or David Beckham earned their wealth entirely on their own.  It is more likely that a lot of the wealth they amass has to do with their structural position in our capitalist social and cultural structure rather than from the fruits of their labor (physical or mental).  Consider all the time, effort and resources (public, private and individual) that have gone into Microsoft's or Tata Group’s success. Tax breaks and incentives and R & D funds, investors' $, and the time and labor of numerous employees all go into creating the profits available at the end of the business year.  Additionally, consider the time and labor spent on designing, implementing and regulating all the state, national and international rules and regulations plus the infrastructure necessary for people, supplies and products to come together when they need to.  Lastly, employees do not come from the sky well trained and productive–family, community and the state all participate in raising and caring for employees.   All of these inputs are necessary to create profits.  Corporations and those highly placed within them and large scale investors are positioned structurally to attract the most gains and to externalize most of the costs…   This is why it is fair and necessary that they pay a higher percentage of taxes than those of us working for wages or small to medium level salaries.

An individual example of how ownership or usership mystifies relational aspects of wealth and assets is my Master’s Degree. It expresses personal status and brings me positive recognition; however this degree is a form of accumulated human effort (see Bourdieu 1984)–mine and (importantly) all those who contributed to it directly and indirectly.  However I, as the holder/owner of the degree, enjoy all the use and exchange value it brings.   This could be a justification for why I as a professional pay more taxes then those who don't have access or ownership of this type of 'accumulated human effort.'

Value, ownership, responsibility and remuneration are socially and politically decided phenomena.  When income inequality gets too high it becomes socially, politically and economically unsustainable.   Consider, the squeezed middle-class, struggling working-class, deficits, and budget battles–income inequality and a tax system biased in favor of the rich contribute to all these issues.

Money made, is not the same thing as money directly earned. 

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