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Why the poor are poor: it's all the booze, women and movies
by Dan Brawner Columnist · December 14th, 2017

After the Senate recently approved their version of the controversial tax reform bill, Sen. Chuck Grassley tried to explain to the Des Moines Register why the very rich deserve to pass on their wealth to their heirs untaxed.

"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing," Grassley said. "As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."

Mr. Grassley appears to be making certain assumptions here - first of all, that taxpayers are all men. Then there is the suggestion that women are commodities that can be purchased. And he implies that women are expensive. Are we then to conclude that men can be had for less? Just because we are not women, does that mean men grow on trees? (Actually, that is a claim I've heard before.)

Throughout his seven-term tenure in the Senate, Mr. Grassley has been a champion of fiscal responsibility. In 2006, he sought to address sex trafficking by requiring prostitutes and pimps to file a proper W-2 form with their taxes. So now when Grassley tells us that women are expensive, we know he's not just whistling Dixie.

I'd be curious how women feel about Grassley placing them on the same level as booze and movies. Or maybe he is suggesting that some people (meaning "men") cannot control their weakness for booze, women and movies and that explains their endless cycle of poverty. Personally, I don't drink much and I don't spend money on women. (My wife will testify to that.) Who knew that getting rich would be as easy as cancelling Netflix?

As you can imagine, many were outraged at Grassley's comments, arguing that they had to work hard just to pay the rent and put food on the table, and that if they had trouble making ends meet, it wasn't because they squandered their money. (Note: I am not in any way suggesting that spending money on women would be squandering.)

The senator complained that his words were misinterpreted. "My point regarding the estate tax," he said, "which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn't seize the fruits of somebody's lifetime of labor after they die." Who does Grassley think he's kidding? Seizing our fruits is the federal government's primary occupation.

To reward the rich for being rich by making them richer probably makes sense to a millionaire like Grassley. It sounds like the old Calvinist notion that prosperity is a sign that Heaven rewards the virtuous with wealth. And by implication, poor people who fritter away their money (as if we all start out with the same amount) instead of investing it wisely, deserve to live in poverty. How dare those profligate poor people blow their money on food, the mortgage and their children's shoes instead of investing in mutual funds like any responsible person!

Checking the Internet, I see that IBM stock is currently trading at $155 a share. That sounds a little pricey to me. On the other hand, "Guardians of the Galaxy" rents for only $3.99. And Blue Moon beer is on sale. I think my wife and I will settle in for a nice evening in front of the TV. Yeah, I know. I'm a big spender.
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