Wealth and Taxes
Andrew Sullivan posted a good exchange on wealth and taxes on his Daily Dish this Monday (sorry, I’m just getting caught up).
Sullivan makes a common argument against what he sees is excessive, punitive taxation of the rich:
After all, he is the person whose success makes taxation possible at all – or rather far more successful than if there were only Wal-Mart workers. But I am content with inequality as the price of freedom, and do not believe the government should punish people for being successful.
But one of his correspondents quotes conservative Ben Stein, and makes a key point:
But if they are superrich, they derive special benefits from life in the United States that the nonrich don’t. For one thing, they can make the money in a safe environment, which is not true for the rich in many countries. It is just common decency that they should pay much higher income taxes than they do.
Not addressed in the back-and-forth is the important fact that some of the rich have rigged the system to keep most people poor and the rich richer.
Sullivan closes nicely with a graph that I completely agree with:
I favor a return to Clinton era tax rates for the successful because we need to find some money somewhere and the hike is not that bad, given the debt we face. I’d like tax simplification and an end to the myriad loopholes and deductions in the tax code that the rich pay lawyers to exploit. I believe in an estate tax, in order to reward work not nepotism. I’ve made the same point about paying for the wars and supported the health insurance reform. I just think that wealthy seniors should pay more for Medicare and that social security could easily be means-tested and that the retirement age be raised. Not because I hate the old, but because we have to do something, or go into default. The successful already pay the bulk of the taxes. I just don’t see why tax hikes should be framed as some kind of revenge on them, or long-overdue comeuppance. It’s a necessary evil for the common good. And many liberals would fare better if they made their case that way, as, I might add, Obama generally does.
A good post that I encourage you to read.
- Bill Maher: New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should Be Vilified (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ben Stein’s fiscal policy (blogs.reuters.com)
- “The Successful” Ctd (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Taxing the Successful (outsidethebeltway.com)
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