Few displays of phony generosity and bogus earnestness are more irritating than watching a stinking-rich tycoon advocating that others shell out more in taxes.
"People at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," explained Warren Buffett, who must be aware that "people like him" number somewhere in the low single digits.
But please, go for it, Mojambo. Hand it over if you're feeling compelled. And if your "please-tax-me-more" companion Bill Gates feels equally bonded to the virtues of federal revenue streams, he can always divert some of that foundation funding from the private sector to the IRS -- where the magic really happens.
"Rich" families with two student loans, mortgages, outrageous property taxes and young children they can't send to the awful local public schools are, undoubtedly, indebted to you guys for finally speaking up.
Let's just call it what it is, though. We may still live in a free, capitalistic society, but taxation policy has long been instilled with progressive moral purpose. Taxation is the most accessible and politically viable way to "spread it around."
Economists and politicians can argue all day about the effects of pending tax increases. They can argue that continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone, including the rich -- filthy immoral scoundrels that they are -- would create jobs. They can quarrel about that sweet spot for tax rates. Some of us may contend that the estate tax is nothing more than a tidy way to confiscate private property. We can argue about a lot of things.
That's today. If we continue to increase the disparity in taxation, we add a host of problems.
Right now, the top 1 percent of earners pay more in income tax than the bottom 90 percent. (The top 20 percent pay almost all federal taxes.) Some economists argue that as revenue streams become more reliant on the fortunes of the few, the economy becomes increasingly more volatile. We also know that Washington will always avoid fundamental changes in spending when there is always an easy revenue stream to tap.
Perhaps the most damaging aspect of it all, however, is that progressive taxation creates an irresponsible electorate. We seem a tad bit disconnected from the cost of all the Utopian voting we do.
But we bought it. Why should we be denied the honor of paying for it? What will be the bulwark against the evils of caffeinated alcoholic beverages? Who will have the moral fortitude to extend unemployment benefits in perpetuity? Who, I ask, will provide free health care and education for everyone?
Let's all pony up. Together.
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