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May 17 2011

Are Profits Moral?

Hadley Heath

The Atlas Network released the following video today about "The Morality of Profit."

 

Although the video focuses on the (very successful and very large) profits of Bill Gates, it's worth stressing that America is full of small businesses and entrepreneurs who (although they may not reach the same level of notoriety as Bill Gates) are busy creating wealth everyday.

But it's these people, America's small businesses, who will suffer most if our big federal government continues on its current path.  Yesterday we hit our head on the debt ceiling (how I wish a good bump on the head would cure Washington's bad thinking...) and yet the President's proposed budget for FY 2012 virtually ignores our fiscal crisis. 

There are two philosophies to fixing our national deficits and our ominous debt problem: On one side, there are those who are pleading with the government to spend less.  On the other, there are those who would prefer to focus on increasing government revenues by increasing taxes.  It's easy to shout, "Let's soak the rich!" but it's a hard reality that even extreme tax increases on the wealthiest Americans will not suffice to pay our big government's bills.

William McGurn has a great piece about this very topic in today's Wall Street Journal.  He points out that the Brookings Institution's William Galston and Reihan Salam from Economics 21 are two analysts (ultimately with differing opinions) who agree on this fact: To continue to fund his big government, President Obama will have to break his promise and start raising taxes on people who earn much less than $250,000.  McGurn then writes:

So here's the question for 2012: If we the people don't want the higher taxes that are needed to support not only ObamaCare but a growing federal government, are we willing to support the real cuts that go along with that choice? And if we decide we don't want these programs touched, will we accept the higher taxes that go along with keeping them, including for people making a lot less than $250,000?

What's the reasonable thing to do here?  To get out of a debt crisis, we need to create wealth.  Taxing and spending does not do this.  On the other hand, cutting back government does.  It does so by allowing for greater profits in the private sector.  And as the Atlas video illustrates, this is also a moral choice.  American workers (taxpayers) should be free to discover the most valuable ways to advance our economy (and make profits) through voluntary exchanges with each other.  The government can only force an involuntary exchange, and at a certain point, this is immoral, and it's just called "theft."

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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