Why Should the Wealthy Pay Higher Taxes?

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.

26 responses to “Why Should the Wealthy Pay Higher Taxes?

  1. Thank you for posting this blog! I love it.

  2. Good “shit” Josh.

  3. The rich pay less under Bush?


    You perpetrate a fraud by passing on the myth that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and the Bush tax cuts really gave massive tax relief to the rich. All you gotta do is go to that website and look at who pays what share of the federal income tax bite, and you find it’s not true. Anybody can look it up! It’s IRS data. You can find the data anywhere. They will look at it. It doesn’t fit the narrative, doesn’t fit the template, so they don’t report it. That’s fraud! Journalistic malpractice. That’s abusing the truth. Before the Bush tax cuts, the top 1% of wage earners paid 37% of all income tax revenue. Now, after the Bush tax cuts, the top 1% are paying 39% of a total income tax bite. That’s a 2% increase in the share of total taxes paid by the rich, the top 1%, since the Bush tax cuts went into effect. By the same token, before the Bush tax cuts, the top 5% paid 56% of all income tax revenue. Now the top 5% are paying 60%, after the Bush tax cuts.

    You have to stop looking at things as a zero-sum game. You have to look at the dynamic results of what tax cuts cause. They cause more jobs. They create more wealth, and as more people gain wealth, they move into these higher tax brackets. There are more people in those brackets, therefore the aggregate income tax collected goes up. They are paying a bigger portion, which, you know, generating revenue to the Treasury is what this is all about.

    Redistribution of wealth doesn’t work, never has worked, and never will work.

    Let me put it this way…

    Lets say you are a business owner (not the prick teacher who gets his check from the government, but an actual business owner who risks his wealth and soul into a business) and the government says “Okay look, you are making X amount of dollars and that’s outrageous, you have 15 employees. What I’m doing to do is I’m going to raise your taxes so you now pay Y amount of dollars from your X amount of income. Now I’m going to use that money to give it to the employee that isn’t employed right now.”

    You would be like WTF!? If you cut my taxes, I could just hire that SOB that you gave my money to!

    And don’t give me this BS that “The rich that make money don’t give it to the poor” what the hell do they do with the money? They obviously spend it. And when they spend it, it helps everyone.

    Another example is the luxury tax in the 90’s. All of these rich people were buying cruise ships, and it just wasn’t right. It just wasn’t right because while our economy was in a recession, yet they could afford to buy a cruise ship. So they instituted the luxury tax. But what happened? The rich stopped buying cruise ships. Okay, no problem? Well if people stopped buying cruise ships then the middle class businesses that sold them had to close up or have layoffs, and then the cruise ship manufacturers had to close down, and then those that you so envy here as the true patriots of America the poor lower class Americans were fired because the manufacturers had to close down factories.

    Your right, the rich can afford to pay taxes, but the middle class Americans CAN’T! The small business owners of America CAN’T.

    Obama’s plan is just like Jimmy Carters, he promises 95% of Americans will receive tax cuts, but thats after he lets Bush’s end, and raises the capital gains tax that effects 39% of Americans. 39%. Not 5. After he drastically doubles social security tax, and corporate taxes that cause lower class workers such as those that work on the oil rigs to lose their jobs.

  4. To J Stat….why in the world would you say “not the prick teacher who gets his check from the government, but an actual business owner who risks his wealth and soul into a business”. Firstly, he did not personally attack you, your character, or your employment. Why is this so personal to you? Chill. It is possible to have a debate without sinking to personal attacks and mudslinging. Second, if not for the “teachers” of this world who nobly sacrifice an inflated lifestyle that more income could provide, you would be a dumb illiterate asshole who wouldn’t be able to comprehend politics or economics let alone post your thoughts coherently using the written word on this blog. So the next time, a big fat fucking thank you to this particular teacher will do just fine.

  5. J Stat I agree but sadly; Common sense has no place in the liberal agenda. It’s a great idea to punish those that have succeeded. Work hard running your own business, only to have big brother come and smack you down and give your hard earned money to the lazy and useless. We must get out of this system of punishing success.

  6. So many comments have already pointed out the obvious, that the rich do pay disproportionately more in taxes, that it’s superfluous to go there.

    But what do you mean by “10% of the population own 70% of the wealth?” Are you counting cars, houses, furniture, personal possessions? A lot of surveys of wealth inequity omit these items, but a large part of our national wealth is tied up there. And are you counting public assets held in common? It would cost me a ton of money to build a highway, but I can drive on them for free (well, with my tax dollars).

    The reason conservatives side with the rich is we know perfectly well that when you’ve milked them, you’ll come after us next, and there will be nobody left capable of stopping you. And it’s not that we oppose helping the poor. We oppose helping them stupidly. I have to keep accounts of my money and be ready to show them to the government, but recipients of social benefits have no obligations whatsoever to use the money responsibly, account for what they did with it, or even obey the law as a condition for getting assistance. How is this helping them?

  7. Nice job of trying to fool America with your “fairly obvious argument(s)”. Do you not realize that the “rich” ARE paying more in taxes already. They still fall into a higher tax bracket and even if we all paid the same percentage of our earnings, the rich would STILL be paying more. If I earn $100 and had to pay 10%, that would mean I owed $10. If a “rich person” earned $100,000 and had to pay 10%, they’d owe $10,000. Thus, they already pay more in taxes. To try and perpetrate the myth that the wealthy are getting off easy is a lie. Why is it, in a country that was founded on the principle that man can accomplish anything, do liberals feel the need to punish those who succeed?

  8. Oh, J Stat, as a “prick teacher who gets his check from the government,” I go three months of each year living on savings or alternative employment. If you do the same thing, you can talk about risk. Otherwise STFU about things you don’t have a clue about.

    Wanna know why it’s so hard to get a hearing for conservatism in academia? Idiots like J Stat.

  9. well said. the Truth is always difficult for most Americans. they’ve been brainwashed by the Corporate Owned News media. how anyone can think that george bush hasn’t been doing his best for The Rich, at everyone else’s expense, is profound. i never new there are so many liars in America because i know that the naysayers DO know about bush’s policies. they just don’t admit it because, after all, they believe they’re going to be Rich one day. brainwashed. just like the millions who believe they’re going to win the lottery. i never dawned on them that , statistically, they have a better chance of being struck by lightening (~3.5 Million to 1) than winning the lottery (~18 million to 1)
    welcome to stupid public schooled boob toobed beer swiggin’ America. so sad because we have no excuse.

  10. working class GOP

    We hate the Death Tax because even though $3 million SOUNDS like a lot of money, someone making $40-60K saving a decent amount of money, investing in their IRA, can make well over $1 million by the time they retire. Add to that the house, the spouse’s IRA and voila!

  11. PS — i don’t waste my time on ReBorglicans anymore. if i know you are a ReBorglican, i avoid you. i don’t have anything to say to you and you don’t have anything to say to me. oh, and if i were a ReBorglican, i’d start my depression now, because most Americans are begining to figure out they’ve been hoodwinked. Obama is going to win in November. your time is up.

    PS — why do Crony Capitalists not mind Socialism when the money is flowing in their direction?? weird, isn’t it?? RE: wallstreet bailout using public money


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  13. J Stat – So according to your link Republicans are actually the ones who make you pay more taxes. Odd that people who complain about high taxes link to analysis that shows their party actually taxes them more than the other party, unless of course Federal income taxes isn’t the full story.

    I particularly like the section on capital gains and dividends. Isn’t it fascinating how after years of encouragement by the government to distribute profits during exceptionally good years in the financial industry (so much so that despite reducing the taxes by more than half the tax revenue actually increased) there is no money to pay off the debts accrued by these companies? And now Republicans want to make the government even bigger by borrowing money to get into the financial industry. Democrats: tax and spend; Republicans: borrow and spend.

    Wealthy people benefit more from being American, and so should pay more to reflect that. Whether from negotiated trade deals, military power, subsidies for contributing to “national security”, or the use of common resources for private gain they benefit more.

    As for spending that money on social programs:
    health care – many people don’t take risks because they can’t afford insurance premiums. Costs for small businesses would go down, and more businesses would start up if people didn’t have to fear losing everything because of an accident.

    welfare – you do realize how violent people get when they are starving and completely without hope, right? Some people just need a bit of assistance between jobs, others would simply turn to crime if they didn’t have that money coming in (for them or a dependent). Morally it is repugnant, but that’s simply the way some people act. I would prefer to spend a couple hundred bucks a year and have my chances at being robbed drop dramatically.

    public schools – the amount of talent that is being wasted because schools are so underfunded is ridiculous. Everyone benefits when people receive better education.

    To Working Class GOP: a death tax reduces the aristocracy. Unless you like the sort of influence people, like Paris Hilton, who never have to work a day in their lives have in American society you would be for it.

  14. As far as the death tax goes: how would you feel if it were imposed at $100,000?

    Now think about inflation and how often laws get revised. My guess is, in 15-20 years, that $3 million is going to encompass a lot more folks than it does now. (See what’s happening with the AMT if you don’t believe me.)

    Taxing people for dying is just downright mean. The family is already grieving and now you want to take money from them.

  15. Do taxes on the rich stifle growth, because they won’t hire more day laborers to do their gardening — they’re still doing that. They’ll be forced to oursource your job to Manilla or India or hire more tax attorneys to hide their earnings — wait, they’re doing that. They won’t buy more luxury yachts built in Italy or cars from Germany — no, still doing that.

    Let’s talk redistribution of wealth, since J Stat brought that up. How about we tax the American people, make up some reasons to go to war and then privatize the rebuilding of a country (Iraq) for some of our friend’s companies (Halliburton, Big Oil).

    What if instead we put that money into infrastructure, education or home grown energy? We might be oil independent right now and people might have jobs based on rebuilding bridges so they don’t fall down or levee’s to withstand a hurricane or who helped that neglected kid who had the potential to be the next Einstein.

    Yes, Paris Hilton will save us! Especially with lines like “what is the Wall Street Journal … is that good?”

  16. @ Mark

    congratulations you missed the entire point of what I said. The rich pay less in taxes, more enter the “rich” tax bracket, they pay more of the overall rate. Bush didn’t raise taxes on the rich, he cut them, which in turn gave them greater wealth that increased the amount given to the system.

    Way to go!

    @ karma

    Cutting taxes brings more or less revenue to the treasury?

    Answer: MORE. However, profit is a whole new thing. The spending is outrageous, but revenue is increased when taxes go down. Fact of life.

  17. Most companies are owned by the top middle or higher class (rich) and to charge them higher taxes would only drive them overseas or at the least raise the prices of their products, food and fuel will go even higher under Obama’s plans!

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  19. Without question, this blog is very much appreciated. The truth is like a scalpel.

  20. Federal revenue went up after the Bush tax cuts? That’s a dubious argument.

    First, these weren’t tax cuts at all, just tax deferrals. A true tax cut would have required a corresponding decrease in spending. Instead, we borrowed money and spent more. All around it was bad policy.

    But the increase in revenue was not due to the tax policy. It was due to the mismanagement on Wall Street. Revenue went up because of the ludicrous and over-inflated growth of the stock market. It had nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts. And yes, the gap between the have’s and have-not’s widened in the meantime.

    Wait till you see how much federal revenues drop this year after the crash of the stock markets.

    The tax cuts helped no one. Not even the wealthy.

  21. Well I have to say I’m particularly interesting in this discussion (although that is giving a lot of folks too much credit).

    First I find it very ironic that the teacher asks “…It is possible to have a debate without sinking to personal attacks and mudslinging…” and then in the next sentence immediately sinks to personally attacking and mudslinging. I would expect that teacher to have been able to demonstrate the “lesson” they were trying to teach.

    Second I think folks should seriously reconsider the foolish thoughts that ownership should equate to paying more for security and the military. That would be a dangerous road to go down and one that we’ve seen in too many countries. If that idea and mentality take hold then they military and police then are seen as protector of only those that “own” and those that don’t aren’t deserving of protection since they aren’t “PAYING” for the service. Think about that the next time you go to sleep in your apartment that you rent instead of the house that you own. Would you like for the police to side with the owner of the properity instead of following the legal codes????

    If that logic were to take hold for security, then it would start to influence other accepts of PUBLIC service, and lets face it, the US is very heavy with PUBLIC service employees (local, state, & federal). Why would the judical or “shared infrastructure” aspects of society make it priority to help that one POOR person with their need, when the “one’s paying for their services” needs their attention. Face it as it is there is very little incentive for “public servents” do anything more then the min necessary (have you been in line at the DMV lately????)

    The information is out there… The mass American public is too lazy to go and read and think for themselves and make their own conclusions.

    I doubt anyone who’s posted on here had done the research on any of the “facts” they entered or any of the facts that they are discussing. America is very unique in that we make more information about our daily government discussions and decision publicly available then any other country, and our citizens do not avail themselves of it. (and I do not mean simply typing in a string in a google search and using the first reference that looks cool, but actually going through the various gov’t public information resources …. LOC, GAO, OMB, Federal Register, etc….)

    Our society is made up of multiple types of roles and we need all of them. We have folks that have a calling to a particular service and find their needs meet there (social workers typically go into that field because they have a high need to help people; accounts go into the field because they need to work with structure; nurses cause they have an strong need to help/care for people; scientists cause they have a need to figure things out). Ideally we gratiate toward areas that fulfill us (either paying or non-paying). The truly unique folks find their calling and excel at it and make a large impact. Some are in the fields of science, some in health, some in industry, and others in entertainment. When their impact is realized in monetary forms then large portions of our society frown on it.

    When they developed the technology for High Def TV everyones was excited and happy, no one hated it or said it was bad. But when the individual that spend years developing, is financially rewarded for his hard efforts, say in patient royalities, they are not the evil bad rich and should be penalized for their success.

    The only exception to this seems to be the entertainment elite; when an actor struggles for years trying to break through and finally becomes a big star and earns $10M a film and has multiple million dollars homes and private jets its ok for them; they are “not the BAD rich”. Its bad to be the Hiltons and Trumps of the world, but its ok to be the Baldwins and Madonna’s of the world.

    History is a wonderful teacher, but one that makes you come to it to learn, not one that goes to you and makes you listen.

    No economy in the world (US or otherwise) has every created growth by taxing itself. Tax is a regulating control on the economy. Change the tax rate and you have an effect on the ENTIRE economy. You can’t change one part of it without effecting all of it; some parts can be more effected then others but in the end all of economy is effected. All those effects have to be looked at in total and not just how it effects the tax payments for one segment. In economics they call that second and third order effects and they make it extremely hard to make isolated changes.

    And as history has shown over and over again… change is always present, and its not constant, its progressive. The pace of change keeps increasing and its effect on the economy is very evident and dramatic. Our leaders and us as voters need to realize that. We can keep trying to pull up the “OLD Way of Doing things” play book and expect the same effects. We have to be proactive and adapt to the change… something the government and the public is extremely bad at. The ones best capable of handling the challenges in this current environment, aren’t on the ticket; the public can’t handle the real truth, its too uncomfortable, they want to hear “everything will be ok, if we go back to the old way we had it”.

  22. Ya know I have never heard a business man not complain about taxes they all piss and moan and then raise their prices or cut the salary of their employees. But let them get robbed or have a fire at their place of business and they start screaming about getting police or fire response. They dont want to pay for the service but they sure as hell want the service. They complain that they cant get good quality employees, but they complain about paying school taxes. They want their government/military to protect their raw material sources in some third world nation or keep people from gaining rights in other third world nations but they complain every time they have to pay the State Department or when the military tries to pull enlisted out of the poverty level salaries they get to protect our freedoms. Pardon my generalizations. Hard working entrepreneurs dont waste their time complaining about a situation they simply find a way to take advantage of it and make a buck. So that they can pay their taxes and keep this nation running.

  23. hey i like ur website

  24. J Stat — Your analysis of the data is flawed and typical republican hogwash. The top 1% is the top 1%. The number of people in the top 1% did not increase. What does it indicate that they paid 39% of the taxes, compared to 37%? It indicates that they made more money (as a percent of GDP) than they did before, especially considering the tax cut. Someone paid less taxes than them (as a percent of the GDP), and made less money (as a percent of GDP. The implication of course being that the ability to accumulate wealth once again has trickled up as a result of the policies of the Bush era. In actuality, the trend has continued through the last 30 years or so. The laws are pushing the wealth up. Trickle down, according to this data, is a falacy.

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