Editorial by Pem Schaeffer
“F-Bomb” here, as in so many other contexts, means nothing more and nothing less than the exercise of arbitrary power by third parties, since everyone has a different definition of what “F-Bomb” means.
– Thomas Sowell (paraphrased)
The F-Bomb, in case you haven’t realized it, is a favored weapon in the arsenal of modern political warfare. It’s most often deployed as an IED – an Intentionally Exclusionary Declaration. It comes in several different versions: F(b), F(n), and F(s). On occasion, its usefulness is enhanced with an IO package.
If your mind is drifting towards the gutter, or Joe Biden’s classic ‘this is a big F’ing deal,’ shame on you.
The ‘F’ I’m referring to here is ‘fair.’ F(b) is the standalone version; F(n) is ‘fairness.’ F(s) is ‘fair share.’ The IO package upgrades the basic model to the ‘it’s only fair’ variant.
The sound of an F-Bomb going off is a rallying call for class warriors. “And the rockets red glare, F-Bombs bursting in air….”
All right, enough silliness. (It is the consequence of a career in the defense business coupled with chronic sarcasm.)
In layman’s terms, the F-bomb, in all the versions just described, belongs to the class of shut-up words. It dares political opponents to challenge any statement that deploys it.
“You’re not against fairness, are you?”
“You mean you don’t support fair policies?” This is a dare.
“How can you oppose expecting the wealthy to pay their fair share?” This is a double dare.
Then there’s the shut up and sit down version: “it’s only fair,” which amounts to a triple dog dare.
The antonym of the F-Bomb is ‘mean-spirited.’ Heartless works too, as does uncaring.
The recent State of the Union Speech provides ample proof of F-Bomb popularity. By my count, it was dropped eight times in this address to the nation. In a re-election year. Maybe not enough to meet carpet-bombing standards, but enough to shut up one heck of a lot of challenges.
Thick in the smoke from the bombs was the presence of Warren Buffett and his secretary, who had the catbird seat next to the First Lady. Warren has insinuated himself into the F-Bomb business by asserting how unfair it is that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does. I have some issues with this.
- No one has suggested that either he or his secretary is skirting applicable tax law. Nor has anyone said that he pays less than his secretary in actual tax dollars.
- Assuming Buffett is unhappy with the tax code, is anyone aware of any law that says he can’t voluntarily send the IRS whatever additional amounts it would take to soothe his conscience?
- Anyone want to guess how much Warren spends annually on tax attorneys and related experts to minimize the tax exposure of his investment empire?
- Anyone want to suggest to Warren that as a remedy, he hire tax attorneys and accountants who can help him maximize tax exposure for his investments?
Or could it be that he’s become addicted to time in the national spotlight, especially when the spotlight is wielded by the President himself? History shows this is a common enough affliction, and there is no vaccine to prevent it.
Of note here is an instance not long ago where the President, in an interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC, proclaimed his support for increasing the tax rate on dividends and capital gains. Gibson responded incredulously that every time that’s been done, tax revenues decline, so why would you do that? The President said ‘it’s a simple matter of fairness.’ Oddly, the clips of this interview have been removed ‘by the user’ from YouTube.
This illogical fixation on ‘fairness’ is enough to make you wonder when the President will propose that all Americans be issued and required to carry a Fair Share card. The card will contain information on one’s net worth and last 10 income tax returns. It will be used to calculate a Fair Share coefficient for any and all financial transactions.
Because there is no good reason to limit fair share principles to taxes alone. Why should the 1% get off paying the same as the 99% for groceries, cars, food, dry cleaning, cat litter, and anything else you can think of? Why should banks pay the same interest and charge the same fees to the wealthy as they do to the least among us? Why should a swell get a hamburger at Mickey D’s, or a steak at Ruth’s Chris for exactly the same price as everyone else?
Take that tricked out Ford Crew Cab pickup you saw in the Sunday paper; MSRP $39,000, but it’s on sale for $31,500. Charging the same to all buyers just isn’t right, because the price should be based on ability to pay, just like property taxes and income taxes. So the upper income tier, once specifics of Fair Share computation are decided by our elected benefactors, will pay something like $300,000 for that truck. The excess over the actual MSRP will be rolled down into a special trust fund to offset the price for the lower quartile of the income spectrum, permitting them to buy the same truck for $10,000. Everyone else, described as ‘working families,’ will pay the $31,500 sale price.
The same approach will apply to every other financial transaction. Gallon of milk, single malt scotch, mouse traps; 2×4’s, toilet paper, lipstick. You name it, the government can assign a socially conscious price to it.
How could anyone complain about a price based on ability to pay? The Fair Share card will make calculating that price at the point of sale a simple matter. Think of the card as a next-generation version of the EBT card so popular these days.
You’ve got to admit, “it’s only fair.”
Free people can treat each other justly, but they can’t make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.
Fair warning: I have the eerie feeling that you and I are about to meet on the road before we know it.
Pem Schaeffer is a retired systems engineer and business development leader. He blogs at http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/ and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.