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I guess reading comprehension isn’t necessary for success

October 16, 2010

Jamelle Bouie on Andrew Sullivan:

Simply put, wealth simply doesn’t enjoy a 1:1 relationship with success. Some people work hard for their wealth, but some are lucky, some have it handed to them, and others are ultimately capitalizing on advantages they gained at birth. Money is money, not moral worth, and Sullivan is smart enough to know the difference.

Andrew Sullivan responds to Jamelle:

Jamelle Bouie questions my choice of words. Why are so many on the left incapable of acknowledging that many people who are rich – but, of course by no means all of them – earned it the hard way? Until more liberals internalize this, they will fail to persuade America of the occasional need for government because people will rightly suspect that what they are really about is penalizing or diminishing hard work. By the way, I favor an inheritance tax. But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

Andrew’s underbloggers summarize the exchange in their Weekly Wrap:

Andrew bucked Jamelle Bouie’s jeers at the “successful.”

“…by neatly failing to respond to a single point raised by Jamelle,” they could have added.

In any case, it is important that liberals continue to sharpen the argument that “money is money, not moral worth,” and that we have no natural right to keeping every dollar we earn on the open market. We can’t have a natural claim to market income because – guess what? – the market isn’t natural. Most forms of market exchange need a capable state.

Here’s my best effort to dismiss the argument that taxation is theft.


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