Stephen King places ‘the 1%’ ‘Under the Dome’

By Matthew Hurtt

Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome details one small Maine town’s dilemma when an invisible, impenetrable barrier cuts them off from the rest of the world. The antagonist of the story, Second Selectman “Big Jim” Rennie, sets about aggressively expanding his power (by extension, government’s) at the expense of the townspeople until the story’s fiery climax.

I love reading Stephen King novels, and Under the Dome is probably my favorite. King illustrates just how dangerous government’s quest for power can be.

Fast forward to 2012 where King pens a piece for The Daily Beast titled, “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!” As you might imagine, liberal King begs the government to tax him at a higher rate, explaining his charitable donations to libraries, fire departments and other entities do not go quite far enough to fund government largesse.

He throws in some Occupy Wall Street rhetoric and a few fat jokes about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) just for kicks, but there are a some assertions King makes that are misleading or just plain wrong.

First, King says the wealthiest Americans pay a smaller percentage of their income to the federal government than the middle class and seems to believe the rich should pay “more,” which is a vague term used by the Left. Tax data reveals that the “top 1%” already pay more than 30% of federal income taxes, not to mention countless other taxes levied on businesses and the wealthy.

None who argue for higher taxes on the rich can come up with a figure, though. How much more is enough, Mr. King? 40%? 50%? 66.67%?

The reasons some wealthy Americans pay less taxes as a percentage of their income than the middle class are (1) our federal tax code is exceedingly complex and (2) wealthy folks hire high-priced lobbyists to push exemptions and hire expensive tax attorneys and accountants to navigate the thousands and thousands of pages that is our Internal Revenue Code.

By simplifying the tax code, lowering rates, and eliminating many exemptions, everyone will be better off. House Republican Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (Wisc.) proposed just such reforms.

Of course, if that’s not enough, King and his colleagues in the top 1% are more than welcome to use pay.gov to give more of their money to the government.

King’s second grievance with our system is the notion that the richer people get, the more jobs they create. He tosses out a bit of anecdotal evidence then suggests the rich don’t create jobs with their wealth. They invest it instead.

I don’t fault King for his ignorance here. He clearly doesn’t understand what an investment is or does.

An investment is a loan to a company (or companies) that allows them to develop a new product, or drug, or whatever with the understanding that – if that company succeeds – the investor will receive his initial investment and a share of the profits back.

These investments fund research and development, industry experts, folks on the factory line, marketing, etc.  If I invest $20 in Apple, that money is going to make their iPads and iPhones cheaper, more durable, faster and better. I win and society wins because Apple produces a better product – all because of my and other investments.

King’s third complaint is that these investments then fund overseas production of goods, creating jobs and opportunities for folks at below-U.S. market rates. Unlike King’s Under the Dome, we aren’t living in a bubble. If a manufacturer can make it cheaper and better elsewhere, it still makes us all better off.

At this point, King suggests non-union factories in the South are of the “barely-gettin’-by” variety, in that people who work on these assembly lines don’t make enough money to live on.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-union employees in manufacturing positions make about $35,000 annually. It’s not “barely gettin’ by.”

Lastly, King bemoans “the rich are hallowed” in the U.S., and as well they should be. In this nation, anyone can work hard and improve their status.

What better example of this than King, a man whose father abandoned him at the age of two and left his mother and adopted brother to fend for themselves. King graduated from college with a degree in English and sold short stories to make ends meet.

The truth is, our government has become unwieldy and corrupt, like “Big Jim” Rennie in Under the Dome. Our elected leaders and their allies in popular culture must stop demonizing and penalizing success before our nation devolves into one of King’s horror stories.

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