Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mitt and me

So, a Facebook friend of mine posted this piece from Salon that includes an income calculator to figure out how long it would take Mitt Romney to earn the reader's salary.

I'm not sure what the usefulness of the calculator is. Does the fact that Romney's $21.6 million income in 2010 translates to him making as much in one day as I did all year - does that equip me to do anything?

Does it help me for Slate to point out that half of Romney's income came from capital gains? I suppose that information is mildly interesting, but that's about it - unless it is accompanied by information on how I can get capital gains, too.

And that's the thing - when I learn that Mitt Romney made $10 million or so in capital gains in 2010, my overriding question becomes, "How can I do that, or something like it?"

I suspect that that's not the response the good folks at Salon were seeking (if any). But truth be told, I don't understand people not asking that question. Unless they're simply more spiritual than me. Or something. Alright, I don't understand.

Likewise, when I hear about corporate tax breaks, it makes me want to incorporate. Who wouldn't?

Nearly everyone I know, as far as I can tell. Fact is, I spend a good deal of time feeling like a weird duck because most of my acquaintances never seem to think about incorporating, or generating capital gains, and some of them even seem to think that corporations and capital gains are inherently evil.

Which leads to another thing. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (usually abbreviated to "Citizens United") gained attention, many people have taken up the slogan, "Corporations are not people." Okay, but if that's your stance, don't reify corporations with adjectives like "evil" and "greedy." People are those things.

(And poor people can be just as greedy as rich people; they're just not as good at it.)

I think the thinking that is quick to identify corporations, capital gains and rich people generally as evil results from making politics the antecedent of economics, rather than vice versa (off the top of my head, I'd say that the appropriate antecedents of economics are theology, geology, and biology).

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