Moments after wrapping up my analysis of the latest unemployment numbers for Rhode Island and their long-term implications, I clicked over to RI Future and encountered a view that I find to be completely disconnected from reality. Writes Bob Plain:
… the state’s unemployment rate is rising again for the first time in eight months. The Miller-Cimini tax equity bill offers an incentive to affluent job creators: for every one percentage point the unemployment rate goes down so would the tax rate for those making more than $250,000 annually until they both fall to 5.9 percent.
Note, first of all, the implicit ceding of the proposition that “the rich” create jobs — so much so, in fact, that Plain suggests that they could simply will jobs to be created so as to lower their tax rates. It appears that the progressive author is willing to accept completely the reasoning of his most dogmatic and overly simplistic free-market opposition if he believes he can turn the argument in the direction that he prefers, a priori.
There’s more to it than that, though.
Plain joins with that proposition the similarly simplistic view of people’s operational incentive. He ought to look among his own allies for contrary evidence: It has long been in the clear, direct, and immediate interests of public sector unions to ensure a healthy, vibrant economy in which the private sector is humming along so nicely that residents do not mind frequently doubling tax bills. Yet, labor organizations have not hesitated to ally with the economically stultifying progressive program, to raise the regulatory burden on their private-sector competition, or to grab for immediate raises and benefits wherever possible, at the expense of long-term solvency.
To be sure, that isn’t where the argument ends, but where it begins. Labor and the Left can make challenging arguments about principle and social well-being… long-term, short-term, working, middle, rich. I believe their arguments to be wrong, ultimately, but they must be contended with.
The conversation can’t even begin, however, until we’ve passed through the rhetorical method that Plain displays in his post: throwing every argument, plausible and implausible, against the door as a barricade.