More Metaphor

A friend of mine recently characterized Democratic Party Nominee for President Senator Barack Obama's proposed income tax plan as, "Two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner." I think he meant that it was like predators holding a mock vote with obvious results over who was going to get eaten. It's funny, I guess, but it's a distortion. It means to portray those with money as the undeserved victims of consumption by the average citizen. I have two main problems with it.

It's backwards.

It characterizes average citizens as wolves, out to devour the poor defenseless rich sheep. Does anybody really believe that? The truth is that every dollar earned comes from somewhere. "Somewhere" in most cases means "someone else's pocket." People with money are closer to the top of the economic food chain, not closer to the bottom. While I would hesitate to portray all rich people as "wolves," given the two choices it's the more logical one. Most people characterize the masses as sheep, right?

The proportions are wrong.

In Senator Obama's plan, taxes will be raised on the top 1.1% of earners. View the Washinton Post analysis:

So, characterizing the situation as a 2-to-1 "vote" is wildly inaccurate. It's more like 99-to-1, and that's a pretty clear choice in a society that's supposed to be a democracy, isn't it?

Those rightward bars in Obama's plan look pretty extreme, but when you keep in mind that people at the top of the pile have been receiving substantial tax cuts for years, those increases really represent a return toward normalcy.

Also note that the tax cuts for the top 0.1% of earners in McCain's plan are nearly ten times the average cut for the bottom 60% of taxpayers. "But those people pay more taxes to begin with," I've had some people argue. True, but does that justify a monetary change that's nearly 1800 times the size that will be enjoyed by the majority? Eighteen hundred?

In Conclusion

A more accurate metaphor would be, in my opinion: "Like 99 sheep and 1 wolf deciding what not to have for dinner." That's how I feel about it, anyway. "You can eat whatever you want, as long as it's not us. Got it?"

2008.09.15 at 9:00am EDT