Friday, March 02, 2012

The Privilege of Being An American

Treasury Secretary Geithner happened to mention that rich Americans should expect to pay more taxes as part of the privilege of being American. Naturally this provoked a spasm of outrage from the Wall Street Journal, which took the form of this benighted nonsense from Larry Lindsey, an apparently dimwitted predecessor. Lindsey bases his attack on a concept of "privilege" unrooted in language, history, or law and a conflation of privilege with inalienable right. Mr. Lindsey seems unaware of the fact that root meaning of "privilege" is a special right granted by law but not available to all, or indeed of the fact that Jefferson never argued for an inalienable right of everyone to be an American or avoid taxes. Less than 5 % of the World's population has been accorded that first privilege, and we guard it jealously, but not jealously enough to have denied it to the WSJ's foreign born owner, a mistake which continues to bear evil fruit.