Are you in the 47% or the 53%?

I was reading about the 47% this morning. This is the proportion of Americans (individuals, families, taxpayers, earners?–they never tell us what the base for the statistic is, but if you read my post about the 1%ers, you’ll see that it makes a difference) that don’t pay federal income taxes. (Of course, they probably don’t then pay state income taxes either, but they pay sales taxes, excise taxes, maybe property taxes and other government fees.) Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney linked those who don’t pay taxes to those who are dependent on government welfare and support. (They are irresponsible and careless, too.)  They are the “takers” as opposed to the 53% who are “makers.” The solution? Cut government expenditure programs to encourage them to join the ranks of the makers, and start paying federal income taxes.

But who is earning so little that they don’t pay federal income taxes, and qualify for food stamps, out of choice? There’s the–not so hidden–charge that people are choosing to be unemployed, or take on menial low-wage jobs because it’s better than the alternatives. When the unemployment rate is over 8%, there really aren’t too many better options for the 43%ers. (Don’t mind the logical problem caused by the fact the majority of Americans who receive support from the government are retired, disabled, or going to college, and aren’t really looking for full time, tax-paying work.)

Those 43%ers who are unemployed, or earning such low wages that they don’t pay federal income taxes at the end of the year, are victims (or at least have a victim mentality.) But who or what are they victims of? How about “makers” who are forced to cut costs to remain competitive, who cut salaries or lay workers off to maintain profits, or cut losses in a depressed economy? And these aren’t the 1%ers, like Romney. These are middle class business owners, many of them employing less than 50 people, even less than 10 people, who are paying taxes (to the federal, state and local governments) and scraping by month to month. They have family members, and former employees who are now part of the 43%.

Romney may not be able to convince 47% of the voters to support him in November, but his bigger problem is convincing enough of the other 53% to find his brand of Darwinian individualism palatable. We’ll see…