Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why the rich should pay more taxes

The rich should pay more taxes, because the rich get more from the government.

Consider defense, for example, which makes up 20% of the budget. Defending the country benefits everyone; but it benefits the rich more, because they have more to defend. It's the same principle as insurance: if you have a bigger house or a fancier car, you pay more to insure it.

Social security payments, which make up another 20% of the budget, are dependent on income-- if you've put more into the system, you get higher payments when you retire.

Investments in the nation's infrastructure-- transportation, education, research & development, energy, police subsidies, the courts, etc.-- again are more useful the more you have. The interstates and airports benefit interstate commerce and people who can travel, not ghetto dwellers. Energy is used disproportionately by the rich and by industry.

As for public education, the better public schools are the ones attended by the moderately well off. The very well off ship their offspring off to private schools; but it is their companies that benefit from a well-educated public. (If you don't think that's a benefit, go start up an engineering firm, or even a factory, in El Salvador. )

The FDIC and the S&L bailout obviously most benefit investors and large depositors. A neat example: a smooth operator bought a failing S&L for $350 million, then received $2 billion from the government to help resurrect it.

Beyond all this, the federal budget is top-heavy with corporate welfare. Counting tax breaks and expenditures, corporations and the rich snuffle up over $400 billion a year-- compare that to the $116 billion spent on programs for the poor.

Where's all that money go? There's direct subsidies to agribusiness ($18 billion a year), to export companies, to maritime shippers, and to various industries-- airlines, nuclear power companies, timber companies, mining companies, automakers, drug companies. There's billions of dollars in military waste and fraud. And there's untold billions in tax credits, deductions, and loopholes. Accelerated depreciation alone, for instance, is estimated to cost the Treasury $37 billion a year-- billions more than the mortgage interest deduction. (Which itself benefits the people with the biggest mortgages.)

How about social spending? Well, putting aside the merely religious consideration that the richest nation on the planet can well afford to lob a few farthings at the hungry, I'd argue that it's social spending-- the New Deal-- that's kept this country capitalistic. Tempting as it is for the rich to take all the wealth of a country, it's really not wise to leave the poor with no stake in the system, and every reason to agitate for imposing a new system of their own. Think of social spending as insurance against violent revolution or social upheaval-- and again, like any insurance, it's of most benefit to those with the biggest boodle.

[Source: Mark Rosenfelder @ The MetaVerse]

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