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This Monday, during the 37th Annual Chamber Dinner in Pennsylvania, conservative author and commentator Ben Shapiro sat down for a debate with progressive activist and commentator Ana Kasparian on the challenges of contemporary politics in America, such as racism, education and taxes.
On the basis of whether or not the United States is a disappointment, the debate began with Shapiro responding, “It’s not the best success story in the history of the world,” while Kasparian concludes that American politics “has failed to live up to its ideals.”
In a respectful but acrimonious exchange of ideas, both commentators agreed that “both sides” of the political spectrum are to blame for the divide, although Shapiro adds that the radical left is “the only one that is not afraid to share its political beliefs.”
Critical race theory and systemic racism
Predictably, the conversation would reach a climax when it touched on some of the issues that are the subject of that divide, such as critical race theory (CRT) and the debated existence of so-called systemic racism.
While Kasparian, as leftist commentators often do, insists on denying that CRT is part of school curriculums, Shapiro believes that a “boiled-down version” is being taught in American public schools.
To the conservative commentator’s assertion, Kasparian admitted to being OK with CRT being taught in schools if it will collaborate in “educating kids” about alleged systemic racism.
“I think [systemic racism] gets ignored or completely denied and I think that’s wrong,” Kasparian said. “I think that’s what also leads to the division that we’re experiencing.” As Shapiro began his response, the progressive author interrupted him with a question, “You think there’s no systemic racism?”
Shapiro replied, “I believe that it depends on how you define systemic racism. So if you’re talking about legal regimens of racism, no. If you’re talking about historical after-effects, of course.” The Daily Wire founder explained that because of “semantic overload” in political rhetoric, people understand different things.
“When people say ‘systemic racism’ sometimes what they mean by ‘systemic racism’ is ‘history has consequences: You can’t have … 300 years of slavery, followed by Jim Crow, and and then not have after-effect, which of course is true,” Shapiro elaborated.
“And sometimes what they mean is that every inequality in American public life is due to some systemic inequity that is currently taking place in the United States, which I think is absolutely 100 percent false.”
Taxes: how fair are they?
Another contentious point during the debate was the imposition of corporate taxes and their role in American tax policy. For Ana Kasparian, “it’s one thing to ask people to pay their fair share, and another thing is to actually write a tax code that is a little more equitable and ensures that everyone is in fact paying their fair share.”
For his part, Shapiro believes a “fair share” would be a flat tax, but he thinks the United States has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. “By the time you receive your income, that income has already been taxed about seven different ways,” he said.
“You are getting taxed through the corporation. Then, it’s passed on to you as a salary, which is taxable. If you invest it in the stock market and then sell your stock, it’s taxed as capital gains tax. When you die, the government taxes that as well. So how many times can you tax the same dollar before people start saving?”
Between California and Florida
When asked if he regrets moving from California to Florida, Shapiro jokingly replied that he has not thought “one day about that decision,” and that it is one of the best he has made for himself and his family.
One of the reasons he attributes his satisfaction is precisely the tax policy. “I was looking for a place that had significant Jewish resources, that was a red state, preferably with 0 % state income tax, and that narrows it down to basically Dallas or Florida,” Shapiro said.
However, he clarified that his decision was driven more by “lifestyle” issues that contravened his family’s values. “In the area where we lived [in California], which was a pretty decent suburb, we had a inundation of homelessness in the area,” Shapiro explained.
“My kids couldn’t walk around the neighborhood. We’d open our front gate and there’d be some person shooting heroin literally in front of our house, or a person passed out on the street.”Shapiro
The debate culminated in a reflection by both commentators on the diversity that defines the United States and what is needed to move towards freedom.