Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Nightmare of A World Without Taxpayers

I note the reappearance of the story that half of all Americans pay no taxes--what Kevin Drum calls "the zombie lie."  It is clearly, to put it most charitably, a falsehood, in the respect that even the most abjectly poor will get nailed for the occasional sales tax, while lots of the slightly less poor will find themselves paying a bit of property tax.  And then there's all that stuff about Social Security: you may think of it as an "investment," but just try not paying and you will learn the full meaning of "tax."

It is, of course, true that something around half of Americans pay no Federal income tax, and Donald Marron provides a useful analytical account of who does not pay.  Saving you the strain of a link, just believe that it's not a pretty sight.  Does it follow that we should pile on those poor wretches whose overstretched lives would be made more overstretched if we added an income tax to their burden?  It does not follow, and I'm agin' it.  But here is a corollary that most commentators appear to have overloooked this time around: paying tax can be an advantage insofar as it gives you leverage over the government. Just ask Charles I--no, no point in askikng him becaue he lost his head at the climax of a long, sanguinary brawl with Parliament over who would cough up what to sustain his comfortable lifestyle.  Or ask the Saudis who can do just about anything they please with "their people" because the Saudis have the money and don't even have to answer the people's phone calls.

In short, a world where everybody has to share in the tax burden is likely to be a steadier, more durable, surely more democratic place.  Of course, a necessary predicate of such a world is that  a person without an MBA have a decent shot at a day's pay for a day's work, giving them the means and the incentive to howl bloody murder about how the government spends their money.

1 comment:

chrismealy said...

Bingo. The problem isn't that the lucky duckies are lazy, it's that wages stink for a lot of people. So let's fix the wages problem.