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Why should rich people pay a greater share of their wealth to taxes?

 
 
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:20 pm
The notion that rich people don't pay their "fair share" and that they should be taxed at higher rates than the middle-class is popular in many places. I've always ascribed this to simple populism, where the majority being non-rich simply don't mind placing a higher societal burden on a different group, but I wonder if anyone has a reasonable argument about why they deserve to pay at a higher rate that might convince me.

Here is my position: Giving tax breaks to people under the poverty line (or for other need-based reason) makes sense, but taxing people at a higher rate merely for being wealthy does not. I see no reason that the mega-rich's share of taxes is only "fair" if it's higher than that of the middle class. The richer they are the more they pay even if the rate is the same, and I find it untoward that the middle-class majority seems to think this is a fair thing to do with their policial power.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 44 • Views: 23,334 • Replies: 403

 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:27 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Because then the rich are forced to share all their earnings to those that do not earn as much money.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:30 pm
@Linkat,
Do you agree with the concept of forcing people who make more money to share with those who make less?
edgarblythe
 
  4  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:35 pm
Retribution on the bosses' driving down wages and cutting jobs, in the interest of obscene profits, for one.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:40 pm
@edgarblythe,
Companies that can cut jobs should, there is no reason to keep a job open that is not needed and very few companies make "obscene profits" (most of the ones cutting jobs are losing money). But putting that aside, do you really think that kind of "retribution" should be codified in the tax code?
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:41 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I knew my joking would probably miss the mark -
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
How else ya gonna get it out of them?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
You remember why Willie Sutton robbed banks?

Actually, I don't think it would be good for too much wealth to be controlled by too few, which is a bit of social engineering, I admit. In any event, we don't dare take the idea to the extreme of killing the golden goose.

Um, you title says "Wealth". I am flat against confiscating wealth. I hope you meant income.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:43 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I do agree that a flat tax is the most fair tax overall. I see no reason to punish some one simply because they earn more money than me.

Some of them actually deserve it.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:46 pm
@edgarblythe,
I don't personally think there is any moral basis for doing so in the first place.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:49 pm
@Linkat,
Hey now. If we had a flat tax, I might have to start paying, too.

While I'm not big on soaking the rich, I am less than delighted to hear Warren Buffet announce that his secretary paid a higher percentage than he did. Now, Buffet wasn't gloating by any means. He was advocating a fairer tax system, but still. . . .
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:49 pm
@Robert Gentel,
They want us to work for low wages. I want them to pay high taxes. Mr. Green
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:55 pm
@edgarblythe,
I get that basic impulse but don't begin to see why anyone could consider that fair. Most people want to be paid more, but that doesn't mean they are being paid unfairly.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 02:56 pm
@roger,
No - I'm talking flat tax without loop holes that result in the wealthy getting certain write offs. There really should be very minimal things you can write off on your taxes.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:03 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
While I'm not big on soaking the rich, I am less than delighted to hear Warren Buffet announce that his secretary paid a higher percentage than he did.


That would bother me if it were true, but the notion that the rich are paying a lower percentage really isn't:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903999904576466541882356616.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:04 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
I've always ascribed this to simple populism, where the majority being non-rich simply don't mind placing a higher societal burden on a different group, but I wonder if anyone has a reasonable argument about why they deserve to pay at a higher rate that might convince me.


What does 'deserve' mean? How do we define what some deserve, while others don't?

I think there are several compelling arguments, but the top two would be:

1, America is for the most part a europe-descended society, and the experiment of allowing the 'nobility' to amass unlimited wealth and power didn't end well there, in the opinion of the founders of our society. Progressive taxes help fight this phenomena of concentration of power amongst the tiny few.

2, the rich can afford to pay much higher rates without significantly damaging their lifestyle or ability to engage in society. If they aren't meaningfully harmed by the tax rates, there's no reason not to charge them, because we need the money!

If those aren't convincing or worth further discussion, I'm willing to move on to other arguments if you like.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I'm not sure that article supports your contention, when you take SS taxes into account, and the part about corporate taxes is pure bullshit.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:14 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
1, America is for the most part a europe-descended society, and the experiment of allowing the 'nobility' to amass unlimited wealth and power didn't end well there, in the opinion of the founders of our society. Progressive taxes help fight this phenomena of concentration of power amongst the tiny few.


I think that's a better case to make for a high (even if flat) estate tax, not progressive taxation. In any case I don't think progressive taxes affects that phenomenon much at all and the wealthy, the powerful etc will always be the few by definition.

Quote:
2, the rich can afford to pay much higher rates without significantly damaging their lifestyle or ability to engage in society. If they aren't meaningfully harmed by the tax rates, there's no reason not to charge them, because we need the money!


Needing the money is a result of choices, America is one of the wealthiest nations on earth and plenty get by with a lot less. This is the majority deciding they "need" the money of those richer than them and using politics to force them to give it to them. I do not think that this is a legitimate right, to decide you "need" to support your spending by taking it away from those who are wealthier "because they can better afford it".

And funny thing is, when we talk about countries you say you don't care that other populations are more needy and that America can better afford to give them better trade relations. If you don't care on that scale why does it make moral sense to you within the microcosm of American politics?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:18 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
If Cycloptichorn says it's bullshit it must be so, but in any case if it were true that the rich paid a lesser percentage I would disagree with that taxation structure as well, and I want to keep this discussion to moral justification for having progressive taxation rather than whether or not it is actually so for Warren.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 03:36 pm
@Robert Gentel,
We will have to agree to disagree there.
0 Replies
 
 

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