A couple of months ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was asked about wealthy people like Warren Buffett who believe they should pay more in taxes for the nation's benefit. The Republican governor said they should "shut up" and rely on a voluntary system in which the rich pay more to the treasury, but only if they want to.
And while Christie added, "I'm tired of hearing about it," Stephen King responded this week, "I'm not tired of talking about it." The best-selling author, whose success has made him very wealthy, argued in colorful terms, "Tax me for f@%&'s sake."
It's true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions.... What charitable 1 percenters can't do is assume responsibility -- America's national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can't fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, "OK, I'll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS." That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.
What of those wealthy Republicans who insist they shouldn't apologize for their riches? King isn't impressed with this argument, either.
What some of us want ... is for you to acknowledge that you couldn't have made it in America without America..... I don't want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that -- sorry, kiddies -- you're on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay -- not to give, not to "cut a check and shut up," in Governor Christie's words, but to pay -- in the same proportion. That's called stepping up and not whining about it. That's called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn't cost their beloved rich folks any money.
It seems to me Stephen King should start a political blog. I'd read it.