In an age where 10% of our nation holds 70% of the wealth, it’s pretty easy to feel like the wealthy ought to pay more, but this is much different than being able to explain why the wealthy ought to pay more.
First, there’s the fairly obvious argument. If you are a millionaire (or better), your money probably came from a lot of hard working people who work for you, either directly or indirectly. While you are not personally responsible for their economic salvation, you are entirely responsible for having provided goods and/or services at the highest price the market would bear. While you should be congratulated for your savvy business acumen, you also need to help the government pay for all the social programs necessary to keep these people out of utter poverty. After all, it IS kind of your fault. Not only did they pay for the goods, but they also paid a little extra so that you could make a profit. So, not only do you need to pay taxes, you also need to pay a little extra so that they can buy their next meal.
Second, there’s the other fairly obvious argument. Most people agree that poor people should pay less in taxes. Whenever you have a “less” in economics, you need to have a “more.” So, if poor people should pay less, then rich people should pay more. You can’t both pay less than the other.
Third, there’s the other, other fairly obvious argument. Wealthier people use a greater abundance of our national infrastructure, have a larger environmental impact, and use a much larger part of the common wealth. Your companies own millions of huge trucks that cause more wear and tear on our bridges and roads. You can’t be trusted to clean up after yourself, so it’s the EPA that spends $15 billion dollars on Superfund Clean-Up Sites. The portion of the Federal government dedicated to dealing with social welfare programs is a drop in the bucket compared to the portion dedicated to commerce, trade, industry, exchange markets, and other fingers of capitalism. So if the bulk of the government is dedicated to protecting and promoting capitalism, then perhaps the people who benefit from this work the most ought to be the ones who pay a proportionately higher tax.
Fourth, there’s the other, other, other fairly obvious argument. If 10% of you own 70% of the shit in this nation, then the military is protecting a lot more of your shit than mine. Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here? Great idea, but it’s YOUR shit over here that our men and women are dying to protect. Look, my insurance company (or rather, your insurance company) makes me pay a higher premium if I own more shit, right? Good. Let’s apply your corporate insurance philosophy to YOUR shit. Ah, yes. It still holds true. The more shit you have to protect, the more you should have to pay to protect it. I’ve been waiting six long years to say this: freedom isn’t free, rich people! There, that felt good.
Fifth, there’s the other, other, other, other fairly obvious argument. The Bush Administration spent the better part of eight years peeling grapes for the wealthy and repealing policies that made it hard to be so very, very rich. Those enormous tax cuts? We need them back, ASAP. Let’s start with an initial loan of about $700 billion. Turns out that welfare for the rich costs a hell of a lot more than welfare for the poor. It’s the wealthy people who got us into this mess, and since y’all control 70% of the wealth in this nation, then maybe you could help replenish the national cookie jar for a little while. I’m not sure if you noticed, but it’s starting to get a little empty.
I guess the most interesting thing to me is that I know a handful of wealthy people. None of them – even the Republicans – have ever argued against paying more in taxes. Strangely, they only people I hear complain excessively about paying higher taxes are those who don’t have to pay them – middle class folks who are just a few million dollars shy of actually being wealthy.
As for patriotism, I think Democrats have Republicans beat. Most Democrats want to help themselves and everyone lower than them on the social ladder. By contrast, most Republicans seem to want to help themselves and everyone higher than them on the social ladder – as if advocating for the wealthy will somehow make you rich. For as long as I live, I’ll never understand why working class Republicans argue bitterly against the “death tax” (which doesn’t kick in until the estate is worth at least $3 million).
If we truly believe in putting the needs of the “country first”, then we ought to be a little bit more willing to address the needs of the country first; and rich people ain’t very high on the needy list – well, except for this week.
Oh, and Phil Gramm, you can shove your nation of whiners up your unholy ass.