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A ‘social contract’ everyone can endorse

In his Oct. 6 op-ed column, “Twisting the ‘social contract,’ ” George F. Will called Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and the “liberal intelligentsia” as collectivists because they suggest that the rich should pay their fair share of the proposed jobs bill. Progressive taxes, however, are not unique to the Obama administration. Their origins go back at least as far as the writer of the following words:

“The necessities of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich; and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Author? The collectivist Karl Marx? No, the founder of modern economics and capitalism, Adam Smith.

John D. Abell, Lynchburg

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