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Abe the Accountant

11/16/2008 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

The tale of Joe the Plumber got me thinking about a conversation I once had with Abe the Accountant.

Years ago, when my salary increase caused me to pay higher taxes, I complained to my accountant. Abe, my accountant, told me something simple. "Be happy you're paying taxes," he said. "What? Why would you say that?" I asked. "Because it means you're making money" was the answer.

It is an indisputable fact of citizenship that if you have an income, you will have to send some of that income to the government to help pay for roads and the army and emergency services and such. Most people accept this. They're happy to get richer, even if it means they'll pay more tax. Since neither candidate this year is suggesting the complete elimination of taxes, the best we can hope for is that they tax us equitably.

For the last thirty years, Republicans have been shifting the tax burden from the richest people in this country to the middle and lower classes. The result has been an almost unprecedented division in wealth between the top 1% of earners and everyone else. Barack Obama has proposed correcting this. As a result, Republicans, like they did to Al Gore and John Kerry before, are accusing the Democrat of "class warfare."

As America's wealthiest person, Warren Buffett, once said, "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." The preceding link, by the way, will take you to an article written by, of all people, conservative Republican Ben Stein, in which he also argues for higher taxes on the rich.

Joe the Plumber, on the other hand, likes things the way they are. He thinks that increasing taxes on the very wealthy will be damaging to the economy, even if it means lowering his own taxes. So, where Barack Obama has Warren Buffett as an advisor, John McCain is taking his lead from Joe The Plumber. I'm going with Warren too.

Our economy is slipping into recession and the middle and lower class are being crushed by the weight of it. They need tax relief. At the same time, we have a $10 trillion debt. We have enormous bills to pay. Money has to come from somewhere. Obama wants to move the top tax rate from 35% to 39%. It's what it was before George Bush. It didn't hurt the economy then (anyone remember the Bill Clinton years?) and it won't hurt it now. If it restores fairness to the system and gives everyday Americans more spending money, it's a good thing. John McCain and Joe The Plumber can call that "redistribution of wealth" if they want. I call it a return to sanity.