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

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 11:50 am
@fbaezer,
fbaezer wrote:
Robert, do you really have an hacienda in Costa Rica?


No, I'm not particularly wealthy.

Quote:
(Oh, and I agree with Engineer about this topic)


Dude, you used to be in the communist party, kinda goes without saying. ;-)
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 11:51 am
@Thomas,
I lack the Central-American blood that causes one to instinctively builds haciendas to correspond with one's riches.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 12:13 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
Sorry for the delayed response, nor will I be able to post promptly for the next couple of weeks.


No worries, I've not been able to post regularly for months now and don't bother to apologize for late responses, after all, asynchronous communication is part of the allure of forums to me.

Quote:
I make no moral argument, I make an economic one.


Fair enough. If you do want to try to make a moral argument I would be interested, to get it started I would say that my moral objections to the gist of your arguments, as I remember them, (I have clawed back through pages of inane posts to find where I left off, would rather not have to go even further for a refresher) is that even if you think it's to the benefit of the rich themselves to pay greater taxes that there is still the question of whether others should be able to decide that and compel them to do so (and the economic question of why they would have to do so if it were, indeed, in their economic interests).

But beyond that I disagree with some of the economics as well. Such as:

Quote:
The Bush tax cuts saved me several thousand dollars a year in taxes and cost me over six figures from a flailing economy and I'm at the low end of the rich totem pole.


I disagree very strongly with this claim that the Bush tax cuts caused the economic problems (though they certainly put the government in a tough fiscal position when the economic problems lowered tax revenue). I think you are ascribing a myriad of other problems that caused the recession to tax cuts.


Quote:
I'm not cherry picking spending, I am saying what happens in the real world when you reduce government income and I have lots of examples to back me up.


Yes you are cherry picking it. When the US spends as much as it does on war, the notion that all reduction in spending must be to cut social programs and have fewer teachers is patently absurd to me. Why not fewer bombs? Is it because we'd be perfectly fine with fewer bombs but if you describe smaller government as fewer teachers it sounds more dangerous?

Quote:
I agree with you that I'd much rather cut wars than education, but until I see that there is really a choice to cut wars instead of education I'll live in the real world...


In the real world there most certainly is still the option to spend less on war, and just because people choose not to does not mean the option does not exist within the realm of reality.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 12:15 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Actually, robbery is a good starting point because it nicely illustrates the underlying principle. Robbery brings about property redistribution, which is a wash between the thief and the victim. But in addition, the thief invests time and effort into the robbery. This is what makes robbery a loss to society in general, and that's why I as a utilitarian morally disapprove of it.


So if someone can steal with no effort it is not morally objectionable to you? That's certainly not a postion I would subscribe to.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 01:36 pm
@Robert Gentel,
And what if the thief can make better use of the assets than the victim?

If someone's mattress is stuffed with money, they're not using it. But the thief takes it and invests it at 5%, can he or she donate 1/2 of the interest to charity and call themselves enlightened?
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 01:57 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
So if someone can steal with no effort it is not morally objectionable to you?


The problem we had here is that the rich had created the laws that had allowed them to gain a larger and larger share of the total wealth of the society over a numbers of generations in the first place so to passed laws that take some of the total wealth back toward the lower end of the society is no more stealing then what the rich and their army of lobbies had already had done for themselves.
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 02:21 pm
@Robert Gentel,
In fact Robert is seem to you that there is only a moral problem or stealing when wealth is to be transfer back toward the working and middle class from the rich however there is no moral problems or issues of stealing when wealth is transfer to the super rich from the lower end of society.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 04:54 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I lack the Central-American blood that causes one to instinctively builds haciendas to correspond with one's riches.


That sounds quite Shakespearean you know.

"for that I lack that glib and oily art to speak and purpose not."

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 05:14 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
So if someone can steal with no effort it is not morally objectionable to you? That's certainly not a postion I would subscribe to.

Are you sure? "No effort" also means no effort on the victim's part to prevent the theft. If the stolen property wasn't worth the victim's while to protect it against theft, how much harm could it be?

If you're still not feeling convinced, remember that evolution adapted your moral instincts to the real world, not the world of philosophy seminars. And in the real world, effortless theft just doesn't happen enough to matter. What usually happens is an arms race of effort between potential victims trying to prevent theft, and potential thieves trying to succeed at it. That's what our anti-theft rules evolved to deal with, be they encoded in print or in neurons---including your neurons.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 07:44 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Are you sure? "No effort" also means no effort on the victim's part to prevent the theft. If the stolen property wasn't worth the victim's while to protect it against theft, how much harm could it be?


Yes, I'm sure. I subscribe to the notion that it is for the owner of the property to decide how they value it and not for others by deciding that they did not protect it enough. By your reasoning stealing from the weak is less wrong than stealing from the strong and I think that if anything is an abstract philosophical sentiment it's how much you seem to ignore human nature and typical human emotion in all of this.

If I have finished my pizza and you ask me for a slice of it I would not mind, but that does not mean I am fine with you just taking it. And just because someone does not value an item does not mean they do not value their property rights. I think you ignore that humans (and many animals) have evolved a sense of personal property and violations thereof themselves inherently come at an emotional cost that may be discrete from the value of the property.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2011 07:47 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
That sounds quite Shakespearean you know.


I can't say that I can make the connection but this is likely ascribable to my half-hearted perusal of his work.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Sep, 2011 05:48 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

Quote:
So if someone can steal with no effort it is not morally objectionable to you?


The problem we had here is that the rich had created the laws that had allowed them to gain a larger and larger share of the total wealth of the society over a numbers of generations in the first place so to passed laws that take some of the total wealth back toward the lower end of the society is no more stealing then what the rich and their army of lobbies had already had done for themselves.
You are hitting the nail, man... Property and notions of property and property rights have been in flux from primitive days... The laws of property we have now only serve to protect a situation that has evolved out of a greater equity... When people where stealing the commons from the commoners, the first changed the law, and justified their actions before hand... Masses of people were thrown onto the street with no recource but to work and starve, or simply to starve... Social poverty became an issue as it was never before for the benefit of a few... What the rich do not realize in looking at the situation as it is, and to them has always been, is that it has been this way for a relative short span of time, and has never been a settled issue... When it comes to the law, it is the whole people who make it and enforce it... When the have dispossessed this people and even the world to have all property and security they are likely to have no security and to have law and property both redefined in a wink of the eye... They could well find themselves happy to hold the property of life at the forfeit of all other property...After all the many millions who have died so they could own property, they might count themselves lucky indeed to have life...
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Sep, 2011 05:56 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
I think you ignore that humans (and many animals) have evolved a sense of personal property and violations thereof themselves inherently come at an emotional cost that may be discrete from the value of the property.

Emotional costs are costs, and factor into the cost-benefit analysis of theft. The theft you describe is not costless.

Returning to the original topic, lawful taxation does not incur the same kind of emotional cost, so it's a good-enough approximation to focus the cost calculation on the money costs.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Sep, 2011 06:33 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Robert Gentel wrote:
So if someone can steal with no effort it is not morally objectionable to you? That's certainly not a postion I would subscribe to.

Are you sure? "No effort" also means no effort on the victim's part to prevent the theft. If the stolen property wasn't worth the victim's while to protect it against theft, how much harm could it be?

If you're still not feeling convinced, remember that evolution adapted your moral instincts to the real world, not the world of philosophy seminars. And in the real world, effortless theft just doesn't happen enough to matter. What usually happens is an arms race of effort between potential victims trying to prevent theft, and potential thieves trying to succeed at it. That's what our anti-theft rules evolved to deal with, be they encoded in print or in neurons---including your neurons.
We all grow up with our forms, and property is just a form... People often work like hell to preserve their property so that they give their lives to it, and in the end lose both property and life while the person or class they are working for controls the market and advances them credit... We all work for credit because if we are not paying for our own, then we are paying for what the boss borrows, or what our cities borrow, and the ulimate cost of credit in everything we buy... People are injured, and because we grow up with that constant injury to the people we think nothing of it, though we should... As the people are dispossed and destroyed in this fashion, our culture is exhausted, the nation is demoralisd, and the society is destroyed... Rather than redefine property and wealth as beyond the reach of taxes, and having no moral obligation to the people who produced it; we should redefine violence to include the exploitation of people, resources, and the expropriation of the commonwealth to private purpose because it is the cause of every other form of violence and war... When injustice is exported it is war... When injustice is not exported it is crime, because what no people can bear they communicate, and violence is only a form of communication... It may take longer to starve a child to death than to shoot them with a gun, but it is still violence because the aim of injury and injustice is clearly the same... Injustice is a matter of intent, and though Jesus sits at the right hand of capital and blesses all its actions, injustice and injury are its intent and result...The government should be responive to the people, and the rich should pay their taxes, and not as a cure for all, but simply to reduce the inflamation of the injury...

What the ancients used to say: That who the gods would destroy they first make mad is true also of societies... It is madness to support the cause of immorality and daily to complain of the effects... To take wealth out of poverty is immoral, but it will be had no other way... To have wealth while so many suffer the injustice and indignity of poverty is immoral, but it will be held no other way... No society ever died of universal poverty, and all people alive are survivers of such societies... It is the immorality of wealth beside poverty -when wealth sooner or later demands all political power- that is the destruction of societies... It was not in spite of the wealth and opulance of the Romans and Greeks that we imitated them in our government... We imitated these governments at the point of their destruction because some among us wished such luxuries and immoralities for themselves and their children... The destruction they have visited upon this people and upon the world should be hung about their necks... Tranquility is a stated goal of our government, and one of many such good goals... Disease was built in to the goverment and society... We are holding the cup of trembling, and should be on our guards; and now that we have become enemies to ourselves and to the whole world, where will any of us find a friend???
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Sep, 2011 10:53 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Emotional costs are costs, and factor into the cost-benefit analysis of theft. The theft you describe is not costless.


But I thought you said that it is the effort of the theft that makes it immoral to you, not the cost to the victim.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Sep, 2011 12:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
But I thought you said that it is the effort of the theft that makes it immoral to you, not the cost to the victim.

I did, on the implicit assumption that the thieves' efforts were the major cost to account for. I'm quite happy to modify this assumption. Especially since I still believe you are raising fringe cases that don't happen enough to influence our general policies towards theft.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2011 06:46 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
Why should rich people pay a greater share of their wealth to taxes?
Regardless of whether a citizen is rich or poor,
he shoud NOT pay any taxes on income
beyond his first $million of income.





David
Old Goat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2011 06:56 am
@OmSigDAVID,
So someone earning $10m ends up paying less of a % proportion of his earnings than someone who only earns $100k?

Sounds fair.....

Up the rich!
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2011 02:32 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
I did, on the implicit assumption that the thieves' efforts were the major cost to account for. I'm quite happy to modify this assumption. Especially since I still believe you are raising fringe cases that don't happen enough to influence our general policies towards theft.


Honestly, I am not making an economic point about it. My position is that humans have evolved a need for the concept of personal property, and a need for personal space (of some size) and that violating it is itself objectionable, regardless of the value of the object, the effort involved in doing so etc.

The fringe examples were just to isolate whether you really felt that way, as I found it surprising.
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2011 02:41 pm
Tax everyone at the same rate and eliminate all of the deductions currently out there.

That would solve the problem.
 

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