The president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, had an article in the Washington Post over the weekend countering President Obama's claim that it would be more "fair" to raise taxes on entrepreneurs:
In general, when resources are perceived as unearned, people think it fair that they be split up somewhat evenly. But when merit is involved, people believe it is fair to reward it with more money....
And so it is in our country. If opportunity in America is a sham--if the system is rigged and some people get the breaks only for reasons of luck, birth, or discrimination--then merit is fictitious and redistribution brings greater fairness. But if America is an opportunity society--if you have the chance to work harder, get more education and innovate--then rewarding merit is fair, and it is fair for some to make more money than others.
Most Americans believe we live in an opportunity society. The General Social Survey has asked Americans since 1973 to answer whether people get ahead because of "their own hard work"or because of "lucky breaks and help from other people."For four decades, 60 to 70 percent of Americans have said "hard work,"while never more than 16 percent have said "lucky breaks."