Friday, August 8, 2008

The real crisis is in grammar: asking vs. making

The Nation's campaign blog gives the latest on the 2008 Democratic platform position on Social Security:

The truth, as honest financial analysts have always argued, is that Social Security is secure -- and will be for decades if Congress agrees to minor reforms, such as requiring wealthy Americans to pay their fair share.

In a major victory for progressives -- and for real-world economics -- the draft Democratic Party platform acknowledges this reality.

"We recognize that Social Security is not in crisis and we should do everything we can to strengthen this vital program, including asking those making over $250,000 to pay a bit more," reads the draft language.

If that line survives the platform-writing processes final stages and becomes a major theme of the fall campaign, America may finally have a real and responsible debate about preserving Social Security.

As written, I have no problem with the platform: the government can "ask" high earners to pay more Social Security taxes, and high earners can answer as they choose.

In reality, though, the government isn't in the asking business: it tells people what to do, and if they don't do it the government makes them. Moreover, many of those making over $250,000 won't regard an extra 4 percent of their earnings as "a bit more," which is precisely why they can't be given a choice.

1 comment:

Paul Lawin said...

You are correct, using "ask" when we're talking about paying taxes is misleading. If we don't pay our taxes, the gov't eventually sends people with guns to collect.

An appropriate usage would be "Obama is asking high income people to vote for him, in spite of the fact that he has proposed increasing their taxes."