Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Here’s some news for you, Mitt, about your derisive comments covering the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax: You can’t eliminate them. Nobody can. It’s impossible. No matter how well we educate the labor force, no matter how hard each and every employable person in the United States works, almost half of all people have to be in the bottom 47 percent of wage earners. Do the math. I checked myself twice to be sure.

And there’s a good reason that the bottom 47 percent don’t pay any income tax. It’s because they don’t make much money. And there’s a good reason they don’t make much money. It’s because the economic laws of supply and demand in a free-market economy ensure it. For most people, taking a low-paying, unglamorous, low-skilled, menial job is not a tax shelter.

I’ll go a bit further at the risk of sounding like a red-faced Republican: If things are functioning properly in a capitalist society, quite a few people in the upper 53 percent of the population are going to make a lot more money than the people in the lower 47 percent. That’s just the way it works. And now back to a considerate Democrat voice – but that’s no reason for the wealthier to deride the poorer for doing the millions of humble, minimum-wage jobs that need to be done. How about a little gratitude?

Not everyone can be a millionaire, not even in America. We need people to harvest our food and cook it, build our homes and repair the roads to them, greet us at Walmart and perform a whole host of other low-paying jobs that society needs and demands. It’s impossible to pay all these workers your middle-class wages of $250,000 per year no matter how hardworking, intelligent and diligent they are. The point is we can’t afford not to have poor people in our economy. I think this might be what Jesus meant when he told us that we would always have the poor.

So does it seem more judicious to thank the millions of people who work the necessary humble jobs that enable us to live our high standard of living, or pompously sit at home in leather recliners absorbing Fox News and call them slackers and mooches for doing exactly what we demand them to do at the everyday low wages necessary to keep popular TV snacks affordable for all?

Giving low-wage earners a break on their federal income taxes is the right thing to do. If we require them to pay federal income taxes, then they have to make more money to pay the taxes and still afford to scrape by.

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If we have to pay them more, it costs more to produce everything. If everything becomes more expensive as a result, we have inflation, and then everybody gets grumpier than Paul Ryan in the fourth hour of a marathon. Giving a tax break to people who are spending almost every penny they earn on necessities is not charity. It’s smart business!

As for moochers, slackers and freeloaders, there are two kinds: those in the lower 47 percent and those in the upper 53 percent. For every conniving welfare mother or pimp in the lower income brackets holding out hands at the social-services office, there is a crooked hedge-fund manager, slick derivatives underwriter or Bernie Madoff in the upper income brackets decimating our retirement accounts.

And tell me who costs us more! Something tells me that the Wall Street hoodlums in Hugo Boss suits took more from our country in 2008 than all the welfare scammers in history combined. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of a worldwide economic implosion caused by a food-stamp swindle.

Now, we don’t shut down the financial markets because a few trillion dollars of Americans’ home equity and investment values disappeared due to the shady dealings of a Manhattan Porsche dealer’s Rolodex worth of bad mortgage bankers, and we don’t cut off welfare benefits for the needy because some people with new Nikes and iPhone 5s are standing in line to rip off Social Security.

We ferret out the cheats and deal with them individually rather than call half the country of menial laborers, retired people, the disabled, underemployed college graduates doing their best in a tough economy, artists, clerics, charity workers and rodeo clowns derogatory names implying they are all lazy and content suckling off the government teat.

And another thing, Mitt: About the only way you could make this situation worse for yourself would be to get all proud and not back down or apologize and even go so far as to say that you don’t care about that 47 percent. Whoops.

Roger Marolt wonders how much Mitt Romney pays the slackers who write his speeches. If it’s time for a change, he can contact him at roger@maroltllp.com (serious inquiries only, please!).