As of this writing, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being savaged for suggesting in a video that some 47 percent of Americans regard themselves as "victims" who are "dependent" on government.
Furthermore, the video surreptitiously made at a fundraiser also shows him saying he will "never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Hmmm . . . not too delicately stated there, governor.
The Washington Post says the 47 percent figure Romney used is based on data that show 46.4 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax in 2011. The Post says the number is high now because of the recession and slow recovery - normally, about 40 percent of households pay no income taxes.
The paper also says that tax cuts pushed in large part by Republicans exempted a lot of poorer folks from federal income tax obligations. Its story also pointed out that almost a quarter of those not paying income tax were the elderly who rely mainly on Social Security.
What the whole issue underscores again, though, is - Romney's indelicacy aside - the tax code is broken. Certainly in the days of trillion-dollar deficits everyone should be paying some tax - even if only a few dollars.
The big tax breaks for special interests need to be done away with and the code needs to be simplified. But, even if just for cosmetic purposes, every able-bodied person ought to be contributing something to the federal treasury.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.