No ‘reverse’ noblesse oblige

May 5, 2008

by Roz Kohls

Noblesse oblige is the noble or wealthy people’s obligation to be charitable to the poor. That is why the royal family in Great Britain spends so much of their time doing charity work. They don’t need to earn any more money for themselves. This obligation of the wealthy has existed for centuries, and is right and proper.

However, the reverse of noblesse oblige does not exist, no matter what politicians in an election year tell us. We are never entitled to a share of other people’s money, no matter how rich they are.

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, is mega-rich. He has money coming out of his ears. It would be easy for him to give me $100,000. He wouldn’t even miss it.

I’m not entitled, though, to have him buy me health care, food, shelter, child care, gasoline and other basics. Nowhere in the US Constitution does it say we are entitled to the earnings of other people, no matter how poor and needy we are, and how rich they are.

I’m also not entitled to have rich people like Gates pay my share of property taxes.

State Reps. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, and Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, on the other hand, have come up with a scheme to get the top 5 percent of Minnesotans, the richest people in the state, to pay a bigger share of property taxes for those whose tax burdens are disproportionately high relative to their incomes, according to the April 27 Star Tribune.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here is how it works: If your household income is $100,000 and your (rural) home’s market value is $213,700, you will pay $70 less next year on all taxes– federal, state, and local– in their proposal, according to the Star Tribune.

If your household income is $110,000 and your (metro) home’s market value is $374,700, you will pay $365 less next year.

Instead of lowering taxes for everyone, the rich people in the top 5 percent, and the people who have homes and property they can actually afford, will make up the difference.

What will happen if this becomes law and cities, townships, counties and school districts don’t collect as much money as they expected? Do you think they will tighten their belts?

No, the DFL legislature will expand the definition of “rich” to include more people, not just those with household incomes, after deductions, of more than $200,000.

That’s for later, though. As an election year ploy, nothing works as well as telling voters they are entitled to rich people’s money.