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taxation(49 posts)

Apr 29, 2002 12:11 PM
I know this has been around before, but I'm curious to see who might offer an opinion of why this argument by analogy is defective. I'm not so much wanting to debate the issue, just to have any fallacies pointed out. Thanks.

I was having lunch with one of my favorite clients last
week and the conversation turned to tax cuts. "I'm opposed to those tax cuts," the
retired college instructor declared, "because they benefit the rich.
The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you
and me and that's not fair."

"But the rich pay more in the first place," I argued, "so it stands
to reason that they'd get more money back." I could tell that my
friend was unimpressed by this meager argument. Even college instructors
are a prisoner of the myth that the "rich" somehow get a free ride.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that
every day 10 men go to dinner. The bill for all ten comes
to $100. If it were paid the way we pay our taxes, the first four
men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3;
the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18. The tenth man (the
richest) would pay $59.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite
happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve. "Since
you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of
your daily meal by $20." Now dinner for the 10 only costs $80.

The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free. Can you
figure out how to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so
that everyone gets his fair share? The men realize that $20 divided by 6
is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody's share, then the fifth
man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal. The
restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill
by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each
should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the
seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth
man with a bill of $52 instead of $59. Outside the restaurant, the men began
to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man pointing
to the tenth, "and he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. I only saved a
dollar, too. It's unfair that he got seven times more than I did!

"That's true," shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $7 back
when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks."

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't
get anything at all. The system exploits the poor."

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night
he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without
him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something
important. They were $52 short!

And that, boys and girls and college instructors, is how the tax system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most
benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being
wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are
lots of good restaurants in Switzerland and the Caribbean.
what you forgetColnagoFE
Apr 29, 2002 12:23 PM
is that the richest man has much more disposable money to begin with than the poor man who is trying to put food on the table and obtain shelter and somehow afford health care should they get sick because their employer doesn't offer it to them at a reduced rate. it's like CEO of Qwest Joe Nacchio making a big deal that he doesn't get a raise or a bonus. Compared the average Joes he doesn't need one. After all if you tax Bill Gates 80% of what he makes it's stll going to be way more than you or I will ever make and more than he can ever hope to spend. PLUS rich people can afford to have others do their taxes and find many more ways to get out of paying than average Joes. So maybe that "rich man" at dinner might be better represented by having to pay $59, but remembering he found a coupon in his suit for 50% off.
what you forgetBikeViking
Apr 30, 2002 5:34 AM
This violates the basic premise of fairness. Just because someone has more money that someone else doesn't mean that the government should take more (they do anyway). Whether you like it or not, IT'S THEIR MONEY! THey earned it! No one ever refutes that BASIC fact. The government just likes to re-distribute it to people who will vote for them. EVERYONE should get tax cuts, not these class warfare inducing "targeted tax cuts". (read: tax cuts for those with the largest voting block). Rich people are a minority. Politicians don't care about them.

Rich people own businesses that hire people. If the wealthy aren't allowed to keep their money to invest in their business, they don't hire people. Then even more of the downtrodden unwealthy will be out of jobs.

BTW, I am NOT wealthy
did they really "earn it"ColnagoFE
Apr 30, 2002 10:09 AM
that's rich--that the wealthy are not represented in washington. what about those who inherit it through a trust (thus skirting estate taxes)? extremely rich people do not need tax cuts. personally i don't see Joe Nacchio at Qwest spreading the wealth even though he's getting all kinds of money while the stock goes through the floor. in fact he keeps laying people off as his pile of money gets bigger and bigger.
Cut spending...BikeViking
Apr 30, 2002 8:55 AM
If the Federal Government was REALLY interested in balancing the budget and providing the services we are accustomed to, why is there no groundswell of support to REALLY cut government waste.

We, as citizens, pay for our excellent infrastructure, but the amount of money that leaves D.C. and goes to the States to pay for things like tattoo removal in CA; a non-functioning teen pregnancy program that costs $1.5 billion a year, but yields few results. The bloated military infrastructure that cost us about $16 billion a year. More money goes for sheep research in Montana and all of that cool stuff that Ted Stevens R-Alaska and Robert C. Byrd D-W.VA (Kings of Pork), buy for their states with OUR money.

It's a vicious cycle; pols must keep their constituents happy and that is done by "bringing home the bacon". The "bacon" is the money taken from us by the Government.

What a screwy system, but it's still the best one out there.
re: taxationweiwentg
Apr 29, 2002 12:26 PM
well. the thing is, the rich (in the US, not sure about other countries) actually shoulder less of the tax burden to begin with. I don't have hard figures. but I recently heard on crossfire (CNN) that the top 1% pay 34% of the nation's taxes. however, a check with shows that in 1998, they held 38.1% of the nation's wealth. I suspect the disparity would be worse if we considered the top 20%, but I don't have figures.
ok, so it's only a 4.1% disparity. but it represents a lot of money in very few hands.
things are bad enough in this country (regarding the lower income groups) that I would be inclined to say that tax breaks should benefit those who really need it first: those who are struggling to pay the bills.
wealth is not incomemr_spin
Apr 29, 2002 12:42 PM
The is a classic mistake. If I made $100 million last year, quit my job, paid $60 million in taxes, then put the remaining $40 million in non-interest paying accounts, I will pay NO taxes this year. I am rich, I am worth $40 million, yet I pay no taxes? How can that be?

It's quite simple. Without a job or any other sources of income, there is nothing on which to tax me. It's all about income, not wealth.
But..............Dave Hickey
Apr 29, 2002 1:46 PM
Would you put the $40 million in a non-interest bearing account? Even at a moderate interest rate, you're going to make over $3 million a year. I agree it's about income not wealth, I just don't see anyone with $40 million not earning interest on their money.
just an examplemr_spin
Apr 29, 2002 1:59 PM
True, but I was making the point that without income, you don't pay income tax. It would be idiotic not to invest $40 million in an interest bearing account! On the other hand, part of that would surely be invested in property, and there are property taxes to pay every year. And those are deductable against income!
Don't have time for a well-formed argument right now, but...cory
Apr 29, 2002 1:55 PM
This is one of those things that makes me stammer, "But...but...but...ARRRGH!" and break out screaming and strangling folks. I don't have time right this second to work out the details, but the argument leaves a lot of things unconsidered: Ability to pay, amount of benefit derived from the government (whose kids go to the better school? Whose streets get paved more often? Who gets faster response from the police?) and even the precepts of Christianity (do unto others...).
It's based on the same superficial logic that makes a flat tax sound good at first: Everybody pays the same percentage. But if it's, say, 10 percent, then the guy making $20,000 a year has $18,000 left to feed his family and the guy making $10 million a year has $9 million to keep his kids in BMWs and beachfront condos. There's a fine line between progressive income tax and "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," but so far it's the best system we've come up with. I sent a boatload of money to the government last year myself, and I'd rather have paid less. But if paying what I did means a kid learns to read or a poor child gets vaccinated, I'm happy to be in a position to do it. They don't throw the tax money in the street, after all. It goes to subsidize Bush's buddies... And in any case, last time I checked (it was a few years ago), U.S. citizens paid among the lowest taxes in the industrialized world. What's not to like?
the tax cut is the issueDougSloan
Apr 29, 2002 2:52 PM
Here, I think the issue isn't whether graduated taxes are right. The issue is whether it is valid to claim that tax cuts unfairly benefit the rich, if the cuts are relatively even in percentages across the tax brackets (say, 2 percentage points reduction for everyone). While the absolute dollars saved the rich are much larger, they still are paying much more in taxes. That's the issue I was questioning.

There are flip sides to the graduated tax issue, too. While you are fair in pointing out that the rich may derive more benefit from government services -- better roads, more police protection, etc., is the guy making $10 million a year and paying $4 million in taxes, compared to the guy making $100,000 a year and paying $25,000 in taxes, really receiving $3,975,000 more in benefits?

Also, what other services or goods are priced according to ability to pay? Isn't the price of a car, haircut, hamburger all the same for everyone?

Here is the bottom line. As long as there are far more people who are not rich than rich, and we have a one person, one vote republic, the voters will always support graduated income taxes.

Nonetheless, it's the tax cut issue I was trying to focus on.

re: taxationSteve98501
Apr 29, 2002 3:48 PM

Two things:

First, but for this economic downturn which seems limited in time and scope, I don't understand why we would have tax cuts during this booming period of national affluence when we have such massive national debt. In the early 90s, there was a huge Republican focus on reducing the national debt. The debt hasn't gone away, but this same political group has decided the debt isn't as important as it was, and now a tax cut better serves the national interest. I think the greater issue is the political inability to remain focused over time on the national interest.

Second, if there is a tax cut, it makes sense that it be apportioned by equal proportion, that is, if fairness is one objective of the tax cut. But fairness doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. It seems to be the result of repaying a campaign pledge, having little or nothing to do with the national interest.

Third (I said two things tho, didn't I?), relates to why taxes in the first place. Obviously, to create a revenue stream to run government and fulfill national interests and objectives. How to raise the revenue stream? That relates in part to some of the national objectives, which over time has included more and more social engineering. Social security, medicare, medicaid, health, welfare, education, transportation, safety of all kinds, postal service, corporate welfare, subsidies for most everything you can think of, not to mention the good old national defense. Progressive taxation is probably good social engineering and good social justice. The rich don't generally get rich by exploiting the other rich folks; not enough of them, so they combine capital with labor from the lower and middle classes to create new wealth. And that wealth as income gets taxed. Ain't perfect, I suppose, just damn hard to improve on.

re: taxationBikeViking
Apr 30, 2002 5:47 AM
I do believe there was an increase in tax receipts after the Kennedy tax cuts and the Reagan tax cuts. Am looking to find more...

There is a lot that the feds do that is good, but instead of worrying aobu the tax cuts, why don't we reduce SPENDING? For example, the military has a 25% base capacity that it doesn't need, but Congress doesn't want to lose the bases in their districts. So, instead of doing the hard work and actually cutting infrastructure (saving money), it's easier to take more money from us. I am glad we got our tax cut, but if it is not permanently enacted, we will be in for a HUGE tax increase in 2011.

I don't know what the answer is to get Congress to cut spending and stop funding local pork projects with Fed money, but I am totally against giving them any more money unitl they can reasonably handle the money they take from us each year.
It's called trickle down economics.Len J
Apr 30, 2002 6:11 AM
Basically, by reducing taxes people have more disposable income, when they spend this income the economy grows and companies make more money and hire more. When the companies make more money and hire more there are more tax receipts. Obviously there is a limit to this but it does work. It was the underlying reason for the 2001 mid term tax rebates, trying to stimulate the economy.

Not Reagan,TJeanloz
Apr 30, 2002 6:35 AM
Actually, a decrease in income tax for the top bracket has always yielded an increase in actual taxes paid by this bracket with the exception of the Reagan tax cut of 1983-4 (so it worked 14 times out of 15).

This isn't a fact that can be disputed- though the explainations for this effect are widely argued. I, for one, believe that the latest tax cut will exhibit a Laffer effect, and tax reciepts will rise as a result of it. But what do I know, I'm just a simple economist.
Thanks for the correction! nmBikeViking
Apr 30, 2002 7:27 AM
re: taxationwsexson
Apr 29, 2002 8:30 PM
Here is the basic problem with your parable. It ignores Social Security, Medicare, state income, sales, property, and various other taxes. are SO rightPaulCL
Apr 30, 2002 5:01 AM
I just read an article on taxation stating that the top 1% of income earners pay over 50% of the taxes. While the other 99% of the wage earners utilize nearly 100% of the tax supported gov't aid, subsidies, etc.

People forget that if the top 10% of wage earners get sick of paying the tax and stop working, the economy will stop. The top 10% are the individuals that generate jobs, generated tax revenue, and make our economy grow. They are the entrepeneurs (sp?). Think about it: if Bill Gates and friends didn't take the risk and start Microsoft would the tech industry be so big?? Would the tech industry employ millions of people around the world today?? Maybe in 20 years, but not today. Flat Tax. Yeah Baby!
everyone get out their violinsColnagoFE
Apr 30, 2002 10:15 AM
let's play a tune for poor persecuted bill gates who doesn't have enough money to buy the state of washington this year because he had to pay some taxes.
don't forgetDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 10:27 AM
He's also the largest private charitable donor in America, if not the world.
Apr 30, 2002 11:33 AM
And he may soon be the person most responsible for eradicating Polio from the world.

Those damn evil, greedy rich people.
correction...his money helps pay for research on polioColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 8:25 AM
I doubt Gates personally eradicates polio. And dammit he should give back some of his money to charity. He has more than God anyway. And you know that it offsets his taxes so it isn't all altruistic. Wasn't Gates once critisized for hoarding his money and not giving much to charity? At least proportionate to his staggering income.
not even one word of gratitude?DougSloan
May 1, 2002 8:32 AM
A guy gives away billions, and he gets criticized because he should do it anyway, he doesn't actually rid the earth of disease himself, and because he should have given earlier. Gee, whiz.

Wasn't every penny he earned from someone voluntarily buying his products or investing in his company? It's not like the guy was a paid assassin or anything. He makes software and people buy it. He then gets jumped on because he does it too well. He even gets criticized when he gives away money.

Some people just love to attack anyone who is successful. It amazes me.
nah...i'm probably just jealous of anyone having that much $ (nmColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 10:26 AM
It's HIS money..he can do with it as he pleases. nmBikeViking
May 1, 2002 9:37 AM
how many people did gates step on to get 'his' money?ColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 10:28 AM
I don't know the answer, but I'm sure he didn't get rich by being a nice guy. I imagine he trampled a few people in the process.
May 1, 2002 12:11 PM
He bamboozled IBM early on, and that set the stage for everything else. Imagine that, the little guy beat Big Blue at their game. Remember that Gates was the "little guy" once. It's a heck of a success story.
correction...his money helps pay for research on polionetso
May 1, 2002 10:51 AM
What have you done to end the Polio Crisis? Have you donated money? Are you doing research?
no, but i never claimed i was (nm)ColnagoFE
May 3, 2002 7:54 AM
Actually not....TJeanloz
May 2, 2002 8:05 AM
His money pays to vaccinate children all over the world with a vaccine that has existed for years, but nobody else has stepped up to the plate and paid to give it to children in the third world. If the U.S. Government (or any other major nation) had wanted to do this 20 years ago, they could have. They didn't. Bill Gates did.

Great things have been acomplished by philanthropists that people like to ignore. But they are nonetheless great. Carnegie built more that 3,000 libraries in the U.S. (greedy robber-baron, even though he gave away ALL of his money)...People seem to be mostly upset because the rich got to choose whose pocket the money went into.
re: taxationnetso
Apr 30, 2002 5:12 AM
Why should I be penalized for going to school (Ph.D.), starting my own business, working many hours and employing as many as 400 people because my salary is above the poverty level. I paid enough in taxes this year that I could well support a family well above the poverty level. I do not mind paying my fair share, but I do not like being picked on!
more violins (nm)ColnagoFE
Apr 30, 2002 10:16 AM
It's only going to convince those that are already convinced.Len J
Apr 30, 2002 5:46 AM

Your math is close and it is how the system works. Unfortunatly, anyone other than the highest tax payors is going to see that the alternative is that they pay more, and the High payors are already going to think they pay too much. So you end up either "preaching to the choir" or "falling on deaf ears".

Conservatives don't like it, but the fundamental belief in this country is that a progressive tax system is the most equitable way to recognize that there are certain minimum living standards, and that those that "have money" should pay a larger % of thier income to support the Government.

The fundamental issue is how do you get sympathy from the vast majority of people when you are complaining about having to pay more in taxes then most of them make in a year. They know that you wouldn't have to pay that if you didn't make so much more then them.

Unfortunatly (or fortunatly depending on your perspective) our tax system is designed to do many things besides collect taxes, including stimulate the economy, redistribute wealth, encourage (discourage) certain investment behaviors, placate the masses (remember the French revolution), Get reelected, and a host of other things that end up convoluting the code & making it seem illiogical. My tax instructor in college made a point of telling us to "leave our logic at the door" when trying to understand the tax code, he was right.

There are many more factors at work than simple arithmatic.

taxes are inherently evilDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 6:26 AM
I think we have to start with the idea that taxes are inherently bad. It's nothing but pure confiscation of people's money they earn; it's punishment; it's penalizing, fining, and disincentive.

That said, we then recognize that as a group of people, we agree to pool some of our money to provide worthwhile public services, beginning with defense of our borders, police protection, fire protection, roads, representative government, courts, etc. We need to pay for those things somehow, and income tax seems about as equitable as anything else.

The problem is, we have gone far beyond using taxes for essentials, and now use them for all sorts of social and political objectives. The government is now viewed by many as our caretaker, and the more money it has, the better it can take care of us.

Some people feel down to the depths of their souls, it seems, that wealth is inherently evil, so that it is perfectly fair to confiscate their money to fund whatever programs they support. I think many believe that if someone became wealthy, they did so only be exploiting the working class and cheating people and the government. I think no one has a quarrel with confiscating property of wealthy drug dealers; I think many don't distinguish between drug dealers and any successful business person. "They got too much, and they got it unfairly," is the sentiment. Therefore, it's ok to take it.

The only means of change will be for good people who are not wealthy, like most of us, to take a philosophical stand that may well not even benefit us very much. It's hard to see, but there may be a pragmatic benefit from that, as well, even though some will never accept the concept, no matter how demonstrated -- tax cuts can actual increase government revenues and stimulate the economy. It has been proven. For some, it seems to counter-intuitive and antithetical to their whole outlook on life that it is pure economic blasphemy. I think their pragmatic and reasonable side, which might accept the proposition, clashes with their emotional side which tells them the wealthy are evil and we must confiscate much of what they have. The two can't be reconciled. That shows, I believe, that the real motive among many "tax and spend" supporters is not necessarily to increase government revenues nor decrease public debt, rather, it's purely to confiscate and punish the wealthy -- "they have too much, so take it and give it to others. It's ok, though, because they got their money unfairly."

That's a tough mindset to defeat; statistics and reason aren't helpful.

Redefining 'specious.'scottfree
Apr 30, 2002 6:49 AM
Saying that 'taxes are inherently evil' is asinine. Taxes are the price we pay for America. I don't think that's evil. Murder is inherently evil. Child abuse is inherently evil. Very inaccurate but of course emotionally charged word to describe taxes there, evil.

Taxes may be inherently annoying, and even in some cases unfair, but evil? Come on.

Saying taxes are imposed 'purely to confiscate and punish the wealthy' is just ... wrong. Like Cory, I just start sputtering when I hear otherwise intelligent people spout such nonsense. I would love to be 'punished' as the wealthy are 'punished' in America. Ho ho.

Sometimes, the radical in me wants to call the no-taxers' bluff. Just throw in the towel, and let them build their tax-free Utopia. It would be ... interesting.
you ignored about half of what I saidDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 6:54 AM
I did go on to state that taxes are necessary to pay for public concerns, it's just that the concerns have gotten way out of control.

I'll stand firm that taxes are evil. The intent was to contrast that view with the view of some that wealth is evil.
If taxes are necessary,scottfree
Apr 30, 2002 7:18 AM
then how are they evil? Is money evil? Is paying for goods and services evil? Taxes are money, and taxes are what we use to pay for the goods and services of a civilized society. I'm at a loss to find evil in that. In fact, no dialectic imaginable would lead to any conclusion but that taxes in America are a great good -- and a great bargain, frankly. Where else would you get such a glorious return on your investment as you get from paying for and living in America?

If you want to say that taxes are a huge pain in the ass, that you hate paying them, that the tax code is unfair, fine. But to fire this huge blunderbuss saying 'taxes are evil' makes you sound more like a know-nothing crank than I think you probably are.
If taxes are necessary,BikeViking
Apr 30, 2002 7:36 AM
Try reading the entire addresses the good and services we realize need to be paid for. Also you do not address all of the local projects that get funded by Federal money. Fed funds should pay for fed things ONLY!!!

Resorting to name-calling; "know-nothing crank" is not proper. A debate is an argument of ideas, not who can call the otehr person a "booger-head" more often.
HA HA HA!scottfree
Apr 30, 2002 7:53 AM
Hadn't thought of 'booger-head.' No, I didn't intend name calling, and don't believe I did. Doug knows many things, and he's only cranky about some.

My point is, shouting 'taxes are evil!' and 'do away with taxes!' is the sort of know-nothing position that a certain segment I'll not hesitate to call 'cranks' espouses, as they're happily living the good life in a nation built on the shared contribution of citizens who understand the civic duty of sharing the load.
sharing the load - exactly!DougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 8:11 AM
Exactly! "Sharing the load" is a concept long forgotten. Refer to the original example of the dinner. Some did not share in the load at all, where one's "share" was 59% of the total.

I think every American has no quarrel with the concept of "sharing the load." The problem is that the system doesn't require everyone who can to share in the load, and when the government collects too much money, it's seen as unfair to decrease the share paid by the wealthy. All you hear is "tax cuts benefit the rich!" Sure they do. They were paying more to begin with.

I think the concept of "sharing the load," which is completely acceptable, has been replaced with "stick it to the rich."
HA HA HA!scottfree
Apr 30, 2002 8:08 AM
Hadn't thought of 'booger-head.' No, I didn't intend name calling, and don't believe I did. Doug knows many things, and he's only cranky about some.

My point is, shouting 'taxes are evil!' and 'do away with taxes!' is the sort of know-nothing position that a certain segment I'll not hesitate to call 'cranks' espouses, as they're happily living the good life in a nation built on the shared contribution of citizens who understand the civic duty of sharing the load.
Plus no serious person on the Leftscottfree
Apr 30, 2002 7:26 AM
says 'wealth is evil.' That's just a straw man you set up to flail. Some poor people hate rich people; some rich people hate poor people. But all political/economic systems seek to promote 'wealth,' and see it as a good.
over stated a bitDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 7:49 AM
OK, I over stated it a bit. Sure, taxes are not "evil" like a mass murderer; it's more like petty theft on a grand scale.

I try to caution that I don't think all people have a similar point of view, just some or many. Also, I don't think there are many people who hate other people, just the wealth they have; maybe "hate" is too strong, too -- "despise," "dislike," or "scorn" may be more accurate.

I think, also, you set up a straw man to counter the perception of mine when you turn my ideas into simple absolutes.

I don't believe all systems seek to promote wealth. I think some actually seek to promote an even distribution of wealth as the priority, which is very different.
Right. There will always be pressure from belowscottfree
Apr 30, 2002 8:07 AM
to redistribute wealth, in tension with pressure from above to concentrate wealth.

What the poor don't get is, redistribution can only go so far before the rich lose incentive to create more wealth. The economy goes south. Bad for everyone.

What some of the wealthy don't get is, there's a lot more poor people than rich people, and when the concentration of wealth gets too egregious, when the inequalities are too great, all those boiling millions of poor will simply just rise up and take redistribution into their own hands. Revolution. Also (usually) bad.

The beauty of America is, we tend toward the middle and we tend toward consensus and we tend toward moderation, so enough redistribution (yes, sometimes through the tax code) takes place to keep the poor relatively satisfied and the rich still producing.

Everyone benefits. INCLUDING the rich, who will get even richer --EVEN PAYING EXCESSIVE TAXES -- in a peaceful and relatively happy society than one in turmoil or even revolution caused by economic inequality.

The very rich, the old rich, understand this; that's why they support the welfare state. It's newcomers to serious money who howl about taxes.
I agree, mostlyDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 8:17 AM
When you talk about "the old rich," I assume you mean those who have had money in their family for generations. They are wealthy because they inherited money, not by earning it. No doubt they are more likely to support welfare - they got their money the same way - a hand out/down from someone else. (Forbes, though??) Yes, people who earn money complain about having a big chunk of it taken a way. Imagine that?

You make a lot of good points, and yes, I agree that even excessive taxation is better than revolution and anarchy. That still doesn't mean that excessive taxation is good, though.
Hey! You and I are middle class -- we're the ones with thescottfree
Apr 30, 2002 8:32 AM
real complaint, not the rich!
It just occurred to meDougSloan
Apr 30, 2002 8:45 AM
So, what you are really saying is that taxation is a form of extortion so that the poor will not "rise up" and revolt, kill the rich, and take their property? It's like Mafia "insurance?"
Well, I might not put it so baldly,scottfree
Apr 30, 2002 8:59 AM
but sure. The interesting thing is, the 'hard' Left, the real Reds, HATE welfare and other 'liberal' social programs for the poor in America and other democracies. As long as the poor are relatively well-taken-care of and complacent, they'll never be moved to revolution. And the rich will be free to continue amassing wealth. Real Reds despise liberal 'reformism,' which is an even worse 'opiate for the masses' than religion.

You don't have to be a Red to see that it is in the best interest of the upper classes to continue paying 'insurance' in the form of big taxes.

Since I'm no longer a radical, I happen to think that works out pretty well for everyone. Good old American centrism at work.
agreement and questionDuane Gran
Apr 30, 2002 11:50 AM

I agree with you about the mentality surrounding the issue. Taxation is probably the most abused power throughout history. I often lament that the founders didn't consider a "separation of government and economy" concept, but that one will have to wait for the next revision. A conservative writer, Thomas Sowell, said the following about taxes (paraphrased):

"Taxes, we are told, are the price of a civilized society. I would applaud that statement if the price were not so high and if we got any civilization for our money."

Regarding the tax cut issue, the problem is that people have differing notions of fairness. Personally I think it is innapropriate to make a moral judgement about someone else's income. By this I mean that people should spend the fruits of their labor in whatever way they see fit. From my standpoint the fair approach is an even tax break irrespective of income.

Now for the question. Have you read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand? This book addresses many of these philsophical issues, particular the matter of the principal producers choosing to not play ball anymore when the system pushes them around too much.