Point of View

November 30, 2012

Taxation and the Constitution
by Kerby Anderson


Commentary ThumbnailOver the next few weeks, we will be hearing lots of rhetoric about taxes and spending. But recent surveys indicate that most Americans know very little about the philosophical basis for our current tax system.

For example, a survey by the Columbia School of Law found that almost two-thirds of Americans think this phrase is in the Constitution: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” In case you are wondering, the framers of the Constitution did not pen this phrase. Karl Marx wrote it, and it is the foundation of communism.

This is amazing. A large majority of Americans think that the major tenet of communism is in our Constitution. And before you think the survey results are anomalous, I should point out that a similar survey conducted by the Hearst Corporation in the late 1980s came to the same conclusion.

These surveys should trouble us. Our constitutional republic depends on educated citizens, and yet these citizens are not really sure what is in our Constitution. I hope and pray that the members of Congress know the difference.

Why do Americans believe that a communist ideal is in the Constitution? One reason is ignorance. Most Americans cannot answer other basic information about the Constitution. We need to do a better job of educating students and a better job of reinforcing important constitutional concepts in society.

Another reason is class warfare. This started by in the 1930s when Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay.” The progressive income tax incorporates part of the Karl Marx philosophy. For many years now, voters have been hearing phrases like: “the rich don’t pay their fair share” and “the rich need to pay more.” Over time it is easy for them to believe that the Constitution contains the phrase: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

These surveys show we need to provide better education about the Constitution. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.



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