Once upon a time settlers immigrated to a lovely valley. Those who arrived first settled in the fertile bottom lands. Those arriving later lived in the hills where agriculture was more difficult. Because immigrants kept arriving, there were always more Hill People than Valley People. At first they were united. But as time went on the Valley People accumulated more wealth. Leaders of the Hill People began to teach that such inequality was unjust—all were entitled to the same standard of living and benefits that only their valley cousins now enjoyed. So successful were these leaders in stirring up the Hill People that the brotherhood between the two groups was replaced with growing animosity. Hill People began raiding and pillaging the Valley People—taking what they claimed was only
their fair share. Skirmishes and bloodshed became common. Eventually, when all realized these pillaging raids were causing serious loss and impoverishment to both sides, wiser heads prevailed. Peace treaties were signed, free trade was restored, mutual respect grew. War was replaced with elections. Everyone benefited.
Unfortunately pillaging had become a way of life for some of the Hill People. Their heroes were those who were most successful in stealing from the Valley People. The term “redistribution” came to replace “pillaging” in their vocabulary and stolen goods were called “entitlements.” Realizing that outright pillaging was no longer culturally acceptable,
they came up with an insidious plan. They adopted an income tax. It was first proposed as a way to obtain essential income in a war time emergency. But those running for election quickly discovered that by promising more and more to the Hill People they could buy their votes. Because the Hill People were a majority their candidates won a majority in the legislature.
To continue buying votes, however, more and more promises had to be made. The cost of keeping those promises rose at an alarming rate. The Hill People representatives saw only one solution: disproportionately taxing the wealthier people in the valley. It was not long before the ten percent of taxpayers living in the valley were paying seventy percent of the income taxes. If Valley People refused to pay the highly disproportionate tax they were jailed and their property seized. It was exactly the same result as raiding and pillaging except now the Hill People only had to vote.
Unfortunately the politicians could not resist the urge to promise more and more
“entitlements.” Soon the cost was more than even the heavy taxes on the Valley People could support. Not deterred, the Pillaging Politicians—that is what they came to be called—began borrowing to fund their vote buying. They knew that only future
generations of Valley People would be required to repay the loans, not their constituents. The Valley People, after decades of seeing their money so flagrantly used to buy votes and their children saddled with an impossible debt, were forced to recoognize the system simply would not work—not only for them, but ultimately for everyone. Something had to be done so that the deadly combination of majority rule domintated by those not paying income taxes, severely disproportionate taxes levied on the minority who did pay, and unlimited borrowing would drive the whole country off a cliff.
You’ll have to wait for the sequel to see how this story turns out. A small preview however: the Hill People are unrestrained in vilifying those seeking an end to highly disproportionate taxes and government borrowing. The Pillaging Politicians know they can never stay in power without buying votes. And their constituents know that the real source of their “entitlements” is pillaging, which can only be justified by demonizing those being pillaged. Pillaging must always be justified by claiming the robbers have a right to rob.