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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: What I Have Learned From Air America: Morning Sedition/Final Thoughts

Friday, May 13, 2005

What I Have Learned From Air America: Morning Sedition/Final Thoughts

Part IV

Morning Sedition
Unlike my first two critiques for Randi Rhodes and Al Franken where I listened to each show over a two week period, I only caught about an hour to an hour and a half of Morning Sedition once (I happened to be up and at work two hours earlier than usual), therefore I didn’t really get a good feel for the show’s format. From what I did hear, the best way to describe it would be Howard Stern minus the fart jokes and strippers; basically it sounded more like an ‘FM’ talk show. If you can get past some of their off-the-wall political opinions, it is an entertaining show.

The morning I was listening happened to be April 15th, tax day. The hosts had two different guests and did actually take some calls. Being April 15th Morning Sedition’s hosts Marc Maron & Mark Riley’s topic of the day was of course taxes. Listening to this program, I felt like I was in some kind of parallel universe listening to a talk show actually advocating raising taxes, especially on the ‘rich’ or what Dick Gephardt calls ‘winners of life’s lottery.’

Their first guest on the program was David Cay Johnson the author of his new book Perfectly Legal in which he explains how the Bush tax cuts are helping the rich get richer on the backs of the working poor. Being unfamiliar with the voices of the show’s hosts, I am not clear as to who made what arguments that I wish to annihilate here but if any of them disagreed on any of these points, none of them spoke up. Some of you may want to accuse me of using a straw man fallacy but I assure you, these were all serious arguments the folks at Morning Sedition made on their show. Here is their first argument:

The rich owe it to society to pay more taxes because their fortune was made in this society

Apparently they do not understand that very few people who they classify as rich received their wealth through winning it, inheriting it, marrying it (John Kerry), cheating for it, or stealing it. As Walter Williams pointed out in his recent column Only in America, in 2004 80% of the rich earned their riches themselves. It may be true that the rich made their fortune in a society compatible with upward mobility, but the vast majority of the rich had to do most (if not all) of the heavy lifting. Everyone who lives in America lives in a society where anyone who wants to do the hard work, educates themselves, invests money wisely, and generally take care of their own self interests (or selfish interest, whichever you prefer) can achieve. There are of course no guarantees that everyone who tries will be successful, but those who do put out the effort stand a greater chance of being successful than those who do not. Think of the free market economy as survival of the fittest and most ambitious. This idea that the rich owe it to society is very offensive to all of those who did the hard work, especially since most people who hold this view did not (the remainder of those who have this viewpoint have been conditioned to feel guilty for their success by socialist philosophy).

The gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger and larger; therefore the rich have an obligation to pay more taxes to help the poor through welfare programs

The gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger and larger? I sure as hell hope so! If the gap between the rich and the poor is shrinking, it isn’t because the poor are getting less poor; it is because the rich are getting less rich-not a good scenario for our economy, especially for the poor. The fact that the rich have the ability to get richer tells me that the American dream is true. The sky’s the limit.

Let me tell you a dirty little secret about trying to force the rich to pay more taxes: the rich know how the system works and can find ways around it. According to Robert T. Kiyosaki in his New York Times best selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the rich tend not to pay more taxes because they know how to use the tax code to their advantage.

Kiyosaki writes:

It is the knowledge of the power of the legal structure of the corporation that really gives the rich a vast advantage over the poor and middle class. Having two fathers teaching me, one a socialist and the other a capitalist, I quickly began to realize that the philosophy of the capitalist made more financial sense to me. It seemed to me that the socialists ultimately penalized themselves, due to their lack of financial education. No matter what the “take from the rich” crowd came up with, the rich always found a way to outsmart them. That is how taxes were eventually levied on the middle class. The rich outsmarted the intellectuals, solely because they understood the power of money, a subject not taught in schools. (p. 98)
There you have it, by attempting to raise taxes on the rich; the middle class is the group that really gets hit hard. The poor pay hidden taxes in the goods and services they buy from these rich corporations (as I mentioned in my post on The Fair Tax). Apparently the rich are rich for a reason.

The Morning Sedition hosts praised a wealthy woman named Elizabeth Letzler who is part of an organization called Responsible Wealth. The purpose of the organization is to donate the money they got back from the Bush tax cuts to charity. Letzler donated all of her $100,000 rebate to charity. Maron and Riley call Letzler a ‘true American’ for making this pledge

Isn’t this one of the points that us supply siders have been trying to make from the beginning? If the rich have more disposable income that would have otherwise been taken by the IRS this extra money can be used to create more jobs or given to charity. Mrs. Letzler really knows how to stick it to the Bush administration doesn’t she! Mrs. Letzler even made the point that she would rather give her money to charity than have the government under President Bush to spend her money on silly things such as national defense. I am not making this up. Mrs. Letzler actually said that the Department of Defense should basically be abolished and use the savings for other social welfare programs. The very idea that we want these types of people back in power!

What is with this notion of responsible wealth? Is this organization trying to say that if you are wealthy you should feel guilty for it and spend your money a certain way so that you can be considered responsible? The bottom line here is that how a person spends his or her money is nobody else’s damn business. Furthermore, unless the irresponsibly wealthy burns their money in the fireplace, the economy will benefit. The rich are the ones who provide jobs and buy things such as yachts, planes and other grown-up toys. Where do these toys come from? Ordinary people who are employed to design, build, and sell them.

The Fair Tax benefits the rich too much

A caller asked Morning Sedition’s guest David Cay Johnson what he thought of the Fair Tax. Mr. Johnson pretty much dismissed the idea out of hand. He couldn’t tell the caller that The Fair Tax would benefit the poor the most, he chose instead to complain that the rich benefit too much under such a tax system. Either Mr. Johnson has not read the bill or his hatred for the rich is more important than advocating a tax system that is infinitely more fair to everyone than the system of thievery we have now that we call income tax.

Final Thoughts on Air America

As much as I disagree with much of what Air America stands for, I am glad the alternative view is now on the radio waves. All too often we seek out only those who agree with our opinions. I would like to see much more political diversity on talk radio than currently exists. One of the main things that occurred to me while doing this project is that the views of the population are much more diverse than anywhere on the radio. Take a look at the blogosphere for example. Nearly every opinion one can imagine is advocated in this new media. I hope someday that talk radio will reflect this as well. The pundits and politicians on the Left and the Right do not want people to think for themselves, they prefer to do the thinking for us. This is the herd mentality we must try to overcome. Don’t believe it just because I said it. Do your homework; think for yourself and do your own research. Ask yourself ‘Does this make sense to me?’ Will I listen to Air America again sense finishing this experiment? I probably will from time-to-time when the talk radio of the Right becomes too predictable and unchallenging. After all, we should never be afraid to challenge our beliefs.


Kiyosaki, R.T. & Lechter, S. (1997).Rich dad, poor dad. New York: Warner Books

The rest of the What I Have Learned From Air America series: Part I, Part II, and Part III


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