Part II: We Should Applaud Risk-Takers and Dreamers
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In an op-ed published on FoxNews.com, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer David Chavern expands on a recent blog post in which he countered claims by President Obama and his senior advisors that entrepreneurs and business owners owe their success to government – more than to their own individual initiative, hard work, and good ideas.
In his follow up, Chavern rightly points out that government plays a role in a successful economy but does not determine individual success:
The argument that public goods like infrastructure and education are responsible for people’s success is equally ludicrous. There’s no question that they help create a platform upon which individuals can build, create, and achieve, but they do not drive success. If they did, then why isn’t everyone successful and wealthy? Public goods are available to everyone and benefit everyone. No one can reap an exclusive return from them.
What appears to be driving the arguments of the president and his advisors, Chavern writes, is their desire to see successful people “give back” to government by paying much higher taxes. But successful people already contribute more than their fair share in our progressive tax system:
Data show that the top 1% of all households paid 39% of federal individual income taxes while earning 13% of total income in the economy. The top 20% paid 94% of total federal individual income taxes while earning 51% of total income. Facts are stubborn things—higher income earners actually pay more than their “fair share” for public goods and for the trillions of dollars worth of other government programs.
When individuals are allowed to succeed and keep what they earn, they contribute to society by creating jobs and providing goods and services that people need and want. And successful individuals and businesses need little prodding from government to give back to society—most are active participants in improving their communities and giving generously to charitable causes.
In the heat of the so-called “silly season,” we can expect to hear more of the same divisive rhetoric for the next two months. While political operatives might consider the demonization of success an effective campaign tactic, it’s wrong-headed and divides Americans instead of bringing them together. As Chavern writes, “we should applaud the risk takers and the dreamers who are willing to stand out from the crowd and create the wealth and prosperity that we all enjoy. Rather than denigrate what these people have done, we need to encourage more people to be like them.”