This morning I told my seventeen year old sister about Mitt Romney’s 47% comment and that he’d given an apology of sorts. My sister then asked me, “Isn’t he always apologizing about something? Does he even want to win?”
That was funny, but I still wondered why no one had discussed why Romney has such a harsh view of the people who don’t pay taxes because they are retired, don’t make enough money, students, or have enough deductions (authorized by Congress) not to pay taxes.
According to Romney, these folks just don’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” What fascinates me about his statement is how broad and accusatory it is. So in comparison, he and his rich audience at the fundraiser “take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” but retirees, the poor, students, and the middle class families don’t because they haven’t managed to make a quarter of a billion dollars?
During the convention, many commentators noted that many of the speakers stressed financial success when describing how they’d lived the American dream. But, none of the commentators ventured to explain why financial success as opposed to individual successes that didn’t end in financial success were highlighted.
Well, the root of this idea that wealth is an indicator of if someone is an innately decent person is the idea of predestination from some Christian denominations. While this belief was usually limited to Lutherans and Calvinists, I’ve noticed over the last ten years that preachers for other denominations or non-denominational ministries have incorporated some of these ideas.
The ability to gain wealth is a sign that you are a good person destined for heaven. You must be good for all this great fortune to come your way. If Joe Blow down the street can’t make it, it must be because something is innately wrong with him. He must be lazy and not “take personal responsibility” for his life like his neighbors.
Isn’t that what Romney basically said? Wasn’t he solely looking at their supposed lack of financial success and passing judgement on their characters? So, it makes sense that Romney would feel more taxes on the wealthy is an unfair punishment for people who clearly live moral lives.
And it also makes sense that Mitt Romney doesn’t think his “job is not to worry about those people” who’s poverty is proof of their low character and moral standing. Luckily, not all Americans subscribe to this self-rewarding belief.
Here is a chart from the NPR article “The 47 Percent, In One Graphic” by Jacob Goldstein breaking down the 47% of people who don’t pay taxes: