Sunday, May 19, 2013

shouldering the burden...

Last year in the United States, there was a push from the Obama administration to raise taxes on the rich, saying that they need to pay their "fair share".  It was a clever bit of rhetoric, never defining what their fair share is, and implying that somehow they are paying less than the rest of us.  It is an argument that can be seductive in the absence of facts.  The reality is that the rich shoulder the burden of taxes in this country, and when asked what "fair share" should mean for the rich, when pressed for a number, most Americans actually think the marginal tax rates should be lower than they actually are.

But when this argument is allowed to compound unfettered, we get what is happening in France.  Some of the rich people there have a tax rate higher than 100% of their income.  How can that possibly be their fair share?  Its convenient to draw a circle around a small part of the total population and say "these people should be treated differently"... but it goes against the very principals of equality under the law.

I think an honest assessment of fairness would be to raise everyone's tax rates to the same level.  Make it an equal playing field.  Then you can raise taxes to your hearts content, as far as I'm concerned... at least maybe then we'd tackle some of the structural deficit problem.  But as long as we see the rich as a demon, skirting their obligations... we seem to feel free to spend wildly, with no accountability, because hey: eventually the rich will be forced to pay their fair share.