Burger King is buying the Tim Horton’s doughnut chain and moving its headquarters to Canada, where it will receive a significant tax break. As noted in Investors.com, here in the US, corporations are taxed at rates up to 40%, while in Canada the comparable top rate is 26%. This move is generating outrage among the left, who apparently believe that corporations should happily continue paying the second highest rate of corporate income tax in the world rather than reducing that rate and paying their shareholders more.
I think we need to look elsewhere for the unpatriotic in this situation. I have the pleasure of teaching an American Government class to a group of home schoolers twice a week. Our text gives several reasons for the success of our nation over the last 235 years. In addition to many of our founders and their predecessors having a strong faith in God, they also believed that work is a gift from God and a way to glorify Him. They were hard workers and believed in the value of work. This Puritan/Protestant work ethic laid the foundation for the growth of an economic system based on the principle of free enterprise. “Free enterprise means that the government leaves individuals free to own businesses and make a living dependent on their own enterprise or initiative.” (Bowen, et al. 1997) Our founders set up a system which limited the power of government (through the Constitution) and allowed citizens the freedom to be as successful as they wanted to be, depending on how hard they wanted to work.
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For the better part of two centuries, hard work, honesty, and integrity were attributes that people were proud to possess, and society celebrated those who worked hard and rose up from humble beginnings to make something of themselves. Many great companies have come and gone over the years, providing the people who created them with great success, while also providing many opportunities for others to better themselves through work and through the ability to buy products that improved their lives at increasingly more economical prices.
As long as the government confines itself to its proper role in the economy, that is, enforcing contracts, prosecuting fraud, etc., people and corporations are free to start businesses, grow and innovate. When the government starts getting heavy-handed in its regulation and taxing of businesses, then companies will start looking for alternatives. They lobby in Washington for special privileges, making the government the one who picks winners and losers. They go out of business or choose to drop part of their services, as some bakers did recently when they were told they were required to prepare cakes for weddings that violated their religious beliefs. Or, like many wealthy individuals are doing, they choose to break their ties with the US to find relief from onerous taxation and regulation.
President Obama calls these companies that bail on the US “corporate deserters.” Democrats are screeching that the tax-avoiding move is unpatriotic. Twitter and Facebook abound with calls to boycott Burger King. Is it unpatriotic to choose to get away from oppressive taxes? Were our founders unpatriotic to object to a tax burden from the king that was considerably less than what we are experiencing now?
I suggest that the ones who are unpatriotic are those who support continuing to soak the populace and its companies to support an ever more bloated bureaucracy. I suggest that it is unpatriotic to burden this country with trillions of unsustainable debt that our children and grandchildren will never be able to pay off. And I suggest that it is unpatriotic to use those tax dollars to create a permanent underclass and to remove any motivation for the able-bodied to work hard and create their own rags-to-riches stories.
Oh, and let’s not forget who is hip-deep in this merger. The left’s favorite billionaire, Warren Buffet, is taking a 9% stake in the company to the tune of about $3 billion dollars. Yes, Warren Buffet, who supports forcing the rich to pay a minimum 30 – 35% tax rate, is financing Burger King’s tax-reducing merger. I wonder if Mr. Buffet considers himself unpatriotic?