44
   

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

 
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:59 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I can go along with that.
So you are willing to trust that the 2% have the same level of commitment as the 98% ?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:14 pm
@wayne,
I'm not sure what you mean by that, if your question is whether I would just trust the richest to do the right thing my answer is no. However I would prefer to see the right thing and the wrong thing addressed more directly than to merely address who's rich and who isn't.

For example, engineer mentioned banking fees as being in control of the rich and something that presented an additional rung on the ladder of lower classes to climb. Now I don't know what he's talking about but to keep it in theory let's assume it's there and it's a problem that holds back the lower classes and helps perpetuate the wealth of the "ruling" class. In that case I do not see the ideal solution to be to try to apply corrective measures though taxation, but to do things to eliminate this barrier to the lower classes such as to regulate such fees or even to have national banks that are publicly operated (in most countries where I have lived the "popular" banks are owned by the state) and let those operate with different goals than the private banks.

That's just an abstract example, but in general my preference is to level the playing field, and just taking from the rich through taxes to do so strikes me as a crude legal instrument for the problem it purports to solve.
DrewDad
 
  0  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:23 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

That doesn't answer my question but I'll humor you in case you have a point that now eludes me.

DrewDad wrote:
1. Are taxes ethical/moral?


I do not find it unethical to create a social compact that includes taxation.

...

I would not like to sign a social contract that makes me a minority stakeholder in my economic activity, I would find it unethical to compel people to live under such a social compact but do not find it inherently wrong.

Since the ethics of taxation are based on the social compact, I fail to see how a progressive tax is any less ethical.
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:44 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I've been giving your position some thought and think I understand a little better.
From an entirely philosophic perspective, I must agree with you. However, realistically I can't hold to such a view.

I see the issue as involving a level of commitment.

Quote:
That's just an abstract example, but in general my preference is to level the playing field, and just taking from the rich through taxes to do so strikes me as a crude legal instrument for the problem it purports to solve.


Philosophically, yes, but realistically America's present position requires a new commitment from it's citizens.
I don't see it as taking from the rich, but as a present necessity to the stability of a nation.
It is not a solution to the problem, but it would certainly help.
We're not talking about inducing a hardship on anyone.

I really don't think money lends itself well to philosophy. The difference between wage and profit, alone, muddies the water considerably
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 08:29 pm
@Robert Gentel,
If for the purpose of debating one considers a one country closed system I am wondering where national state banks would get their money from without progressive taxation to lend money to poor people in large scale...

...bottom line you are not debating taxation you are debating the State itself...
...and unless of course you believe everybody can reach peak efficiency on its own, needless to say you are wrong !
roger
 
  4  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 08:39 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
You could replace income tax with a VAT. You could also go to a flat tax, which seems to be Robert's preference. Either one could be engineered to be revenue neutral.

I would not trust Congress to come up with either, without sneaking in a significant tax increase. Now, I understand that a large number of members of Congress oppose tax increases as a matter of principle; I don't see any of them really intending to get by with less money to spend to forward programs that would help with their own re-election efforts.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 08:43 pm
@roger,
Quote:

I would not trust Congress to come up with either, without sneaking in a significant tax increase.


You say this as if it were a bad thing
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 08:51 pm
@maxdancona,
No, I say I do not trust Congress's actions to suit it's avowed objectives. Whether it's a good or bad thing rather depends on the state of the economy, don't you think.

Yes, some do think a tax increase while we've on the verge of the second dip of a recession would be a good thing.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 09:08 pm
@roger,
Quote:
Yes, some do think a tax increase while we've on the verge of the second dip of a recession would be a good thing.


Cutting funding to the poor and the middle class so they have less funds to power the economic with their demands for good and services on the verge of a second dip of a recession is a great idea but we can not increase the tax rate on the top 2 percent.

How very strange is this thinking.


Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 09:30 pm
@roger,
Anyone who knows how learning is processed in brains (simulation/imitation/copy) immediately understands the success of pirate bay...sharing ideas for free exponentially increases our productivity as a whole...see TED or FORA...

These days a company takes their ideas from everywhere uses planetary resources physical and intellectual and expects to not be progressively taxed...that´s just dumb...bad accounting aside not understanding what globalization means !

...Besides you are in principle debating corruption not the State...
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 10:14 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
I don't see any of them really intending to get by with less money to spend to forward programs that would help with their own re-election efforts.
Me, either. I don't even think of them as 'politicians' anymore; rather, 'perpetual campaigners'.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 11:33 pm
@BillRM,
yeah...to much reading these guys...to many PHD´s and no common sense to not call them plain stupid...
...when one goes to analyse where 99.9% of the money rests one immediately understands why people are in debt and cannot/will not get out of it...
...debt at this scale is not money nor does it produces money, interest is money...money is and always was in the wealth of middle class, take that and the system eventually crashes...slaves make poor workers !

...I find it funny that the short sighted claim that lending to much was the reason for this crisis...when one should be wondering why would people use loans if they had a decent pay with a decent industry producing decent products to endure a decent amount of time...is not the case that people have true money...money just passes through them...



Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 11:52 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
In sum, interest money is empowered money while debt is just the opposite...
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  8  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2011 05:49 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
So is your moral argument essentially that it's right to compel them to pay more than you because it's for their own good? I don't want to get distracted into the minutiae of whether or not that is the case, but want to distill your ethical arguments. If that is not an accurate representation of them can you try to summarize the ethical basis for it?

Sorry for the delayed response, nor will I be able to post promptly for the next couple of weeks.

I make no moral argument, I make an economic one. 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. Just this latest fiasco in Congress has done well over five figures of damage in a couple of months. It is to my benefit to pay more taxes and have the US on a sound financial footing. Taking that money from the poor will just drive them further into poverty while harming the economy. Taking it from the rich will do nothing to them and they will see their net worth dramatically increase. Stability = money for the rich and putting the government to financial rights means more stability.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Quote:
Regarding infrastructure and related expenses, the rich gain far more proportionally than their higher usage would indicate.


Some do, some don't and they don't necessarily do so simply because they are rich, and many other demographics get more out of society than others but aren't used to justify different levels of taxation.

If your argument is really use-based then use should be targeted in the tax code and not mere socio-economic status.

It is based on income and income growth, not socio-economic status. A rich person who lives off his wealth and makes no money pays no income taxes. (There are still property taxes, sales taxes, etc but these are in line with what others are paying.)

Robert Gentel wrote:
Quote:
The rich do not benefit when their taxes go down by a few thousand dollars (that they won't notice) but the police department is cut in size, (crime directly and strongly correlates to police presence) since an uptick in crime will do more harm to their property values and way of life than will ever be made up by lower taxes. Nor do they benefit when the SEC doesn't have the resources to investigate financial fraud, both because they fall prey to the Enrons and Madoffs of the world and because they must spend more money to compete in a lawless climate.


But this is a completely false dilemma. You pose it as a choice between taxing the rich and having useful social programs but it could just as well mean not going around and bombing the world.

You can't just cherry pick spending and claim a false dilemma wherein failure to accept progressive taxation of the rich equates to acceptance of an erosion of social safety nets.

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. 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 where the small benefit the rich get from reduced taxes is offset ten fold by the need to send live in gated communities with private security, the cost of private schools, the reduced property values from increased crime and the fear that local factories are spewing pollutants into the air and the government is incapable of doing anything about it.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2011 06:39 am
Even someone who relied solely upon capital gains from investment is indirectly benefiting from infrastructure and public safety services, given that most forms of securities derive those benefits directly in their operations.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2011 08:05 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
What I'd like to express is that what I'd most like to maximize is happiness (and thusly minimize suffering) and I wonder if there is a point at which economic productivity might be maximized while not maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering.

Well, there are areas of the law that profoundly affect people's happiness, but are hard to assess in terms of economic efficiency. Marriages come to mind. I can't vouch for those. But in areas like tax law, areas that are explicitly about economics, I don't see any happiness-maximizing policy that doesn't come down to some compromise between productivity and equality.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I'd like to clarify if you consider things such as sentimental value or purely economic value.

Sentimental value is value.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I am finding that my "maximizing happiness" criterion is perhaps too simplistic because I am not willing to compromise individualism to collectivism too much (perhaps because of how deeply I cherish being able to be individualistic).

Or in other words, being bossed around by meddlesome legislators makes you unhappy. Many if not most people feel this way. This means to me that it's wrong for legislators to boss people around, other things being equal.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I think the last line is the main qualifier for what I'm asking. Maybe this is a good question: if there were a society that had a social contract wherein any property that is not being utilized maximally can be used by those who can demonstrably show they are better able to use it.

Does that run into your libertarian streak at all? It positively rubs mine the wrong way.

That's what our social contract does with the eminent-domain power of the state. I'm philosophically fine with that. (Practically, I think "just compensation" should be something more than market value: The fact that the condemnees haven't sold at market value proves that the property is worth more to them.)

Robert Gentel wrote:
I was very unclear, what I meant was if there is any kind of property redistribution other than the most obvious ones (such as violent robbery) that you disapprove of I would love to know what basis you do that on.

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.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Would you approve, for example, of a society in which someone who demonstrates a greater ability to utilize my watch would be able to successfully prosecute a claim for it, for example?

Same principle. Proving that your watch is more useful in my hands than in yours costs even more effort than stealing it outright. Therefore I disapprove of it even more than I disapprove of theft. Besides, proving my case to our city's property-redistribution board would cost so many man-hours that even just from my own point of view, I might as well just buy the watch. But if we're talking about big chunks of property---like your hacienda in Costa Rica. Now the property value is much bigger than the cost of the property-redistribution process. Now if I prove to Costa Rica's government that your land has greater social value with my railroad rather than your hacienda on it, we're back to the case of eminent domain. And as I said, I approve of that.
gbshopinformation
 
  2  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 06:51 am
@Robert Gentel,
So that the poor doesn't have to pay too much where they earn less.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  2  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 09:01 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

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.
We are a commonwealth, and even the wealth put in private hands must support the population... I mean, if you dispossess the people, and destract them or deny them meaningul lives, then they will certainly, over time kill themselve off or not breed enough to replace themsleves, and then you can keep all the country you can afford... But if you kill off to many poor all at once, if you compound their misery like interest with interest, then you risk revolution and losing all... If you hurt the people so badly, or so depress the population that they cannot defend what you now own while they own nothing, then you risk defeat and invasion... This was the End of the Romans, and has been the end of many peoples and civilizations... With even a little justice we could live side by side with the rich... If they want it all, we will have to give it to them...
0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  -3  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2011 09:44 am


The richest 1 percent of Americans earn 20 percent of all income in America but pay 38 percent of income taxes. The top 5 percent earn slightly more than one-third of U.S. income while paying nearly 59 percent of income taxes. At the same time, roughly half of Americans pay no federal income tax. One might suggest, therefore, that the wealthy already pay their fair share, and then some.
BillRM
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2011 10:40 am
@H2O MAN,
You might suggest that but I would suggest we need to do what we did the last time the debt to GNP was at this level right after WW2 when we placed a 90 percents top tax rate into effect.

We ended up with a large and health middle class and a growing economic where the bulk of the increasing wealth was not lock up in the hands of a very few.

No I am not for a 90 percents top tax rate but a 50 percents rate seem about right to me.

0 Replies
 
 

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