Flat tax is in alignment with founding fathers’ vision of United States

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

While reading Matt Mastricova’s article “999 Tax Plan Does Not Solve Economic Problems,” I could not help but agree with his analysis of capitalism, which concludes that it necessarily creates income inequality. Yet the article implied something more. Mastricova states that “it should be logical that our taxation system account for [the disparity between the rich and the poor].” I disagree. The underlying assumption that keeps this logic afloat is that people in this country are owed something beyond the guarantee of life.

Immigrants came to our nation not because they were handed anything upon arrival, but because they were given the opportunity to create a living for themselves through hard work. This opportunity was guaranteed not by welfare programs, but by our economic freedom.

The 999 plan has generated so much popularity for Herman Cain is because it represents a return to the ideology that the U.S. was founded on: the notion that if you work your butt off, you can create whatever kind of life you want for yourself. This country was created and perpetuated by people who displayed that kind of hard-working, individualistic mentality. These people did not view the wealthy as villains, but as role models. They were living proof that if you work hard enough, you too can achieve the American Dream.

There are still people in the U.S. who feel this way about wealth, and Cain is one of them. People vilify Cain and other like-minded individuals for saying, “If you’re poor and unemployed, it’s your own damn fault.” People call this ignorant, but I find this statement incredibly candid. Who else’s fault would it be? Maybe it comes as a shock to people who have been living on handouts and receiving unemployment benefits for almost two years, but citizenship doesn’t guarantee you anything in the U.S. aside from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you want any kind of lifestyle, modest or luxurious, you need to create it for yourself.

It is the abandonment of this ideology that has created a large social entitlement state and augmented the slope of our progressive taxation scheme to the point where, according to the National Taxpayer’s Union, nearly half of the country pays no net taxes.

Mastricova’s article states that the 999 plan would raise taxes for the bottom 80 percent of earners, while lowering them for the top 20 percent of earners whose income is 80 percent of the nation’s wealth. Though this idea in unpopular, I think it’s extraordinarily fair. This means that the portion of the nation that doesn’t contribute to the system at all would actually have some skin in the game and be forced to earn the benefits that come its way, even if it isn’t a dollar-per-dollar trade-off between taxation and benefits.

Criticism of the 999 plan from the perspective of social justice is incompatible with the founding principles of our nation. Up until recently, social justice meant that people get from the system what they put in. Now it means that those who contribute to the system need to subsidize those who don’t. This ideology is unsustainable and is contributing to a myriad of problems in our nation, from joblessness to the debt crisis. These problems could be solved if people stop expecting things to be handed to them, but instead go out and create for themselves, remembering that if it’s to be, it’s up to me.

It isn’t too late to make the necessary policy changes in a bipartisan manner either. Flat tax has been a surprisingly bipartisan idea. In 1992, the runner-up to Bill Clinton in the Democratic primaries advocated a flat tax. Entitlement reform can be bipartisan as well. It wasn’t too long ago that John F. Kennedy, a Democratic president, said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”