Taxing Rich Won't Help Middle Class
Government has hurt Americans, not the rich, says Ross Douthat
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2011 3:16 PM CDT
Carol Gay, of Brick, NJ, holds a sign saying "Tax the Rich," as several groups "occupy" Freedom Plaza in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – You can raise taxes on the rich to fight inequality, but that will only "trim the tallest poppies" and won't do anything to help the middle class, says Ross Douthat in the New York Times. "True social mobility and broadly shared prosperity are not so easily achieved," he writes. Those extra tax dollars will just go toward propping up out-of-date public institutions instead of tackling much-needed entitlement and education reform—the areas that are most hurting the middle class.

The public sector today is inefficient and entrenched like the corporate world was in the 1950s. "But if a bloated public sector were the blueprint for a thriving middle-class society, then the whole world would be beating a path to Greece’s door," writes Douthat. Education is a mess, too: Although K-12 spending has doubled since the 1970s, US test scores are falling behind the rest of the world. In short, American failures over the past three decades have come not from rich people bleeding government, but from the failures of liberalism and big, bad government, says Douthat. The solution is neither more government nor GOP flat taxes, but "small government egalitarianism," with fewer special interests and a more responsive civil service.