Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tax the rich more: A defense of a progressive form of taxation

The rich utilize government resources far more than they care to admit

Or more "cents." Sorry.
Arguments against a progressive form of taxation -- of taxing the rich more than the poor and middle class -- are not rare to find. And the rationale behind these arguments make a lot of sense, if you don’t delve into them too deeply.

We strive for fairness in America. So it’s understandable that some might advocate for a fair form of taxation, wherein the rich and the poor pay the same rate to Uncle Sam.

It’s a tidy argument that’s hard to refute in just a few short lines. That makes it very effective, but hardly right.

The reason we can justify taxing the wealthy at a higher rate isn’t so simple. We need to consider other factors, including who benefits the most from the expenditure of government revenues.

Consider the interstate highway system. Everyone with a car uses it, so it’s a good example to use. Yet, we should consider at what rate people use the interstate. The poor use it to commute to work, and occasionally to travel on vacations when they can afford to do so.

Their use of the interstate, as well as their monetary gains from it, are minimal when you compare it to the use of the wealthy. Business owners and investors utilize the interstate far more than we ever consider -- truckloads of products and goods are traveling across the country every hour, and an immeasurable amount of revenue is being created in the process.

It’s the same with the military. We need to fund the military because we all have a vested interest in security for our nation. That being said, there’s certainly more to protect as you gain more assets.

The wealthy again have a higher interest in funding the military. While the poor and middle class may have some interest too, the rich have way more at stake were there to be an invasion of the country. Their contribution to funding the military, through higher taxation, is understandable versus the modest contributions that lower-income families may make.

Even welfare programs benefit the rich. Some may think that’s absurd, but think about it: the wealthy need a consumer class in order to continue amassing wealth. If the poor are unable to spend capital -- say, if their spending is tied up in medical bills and child care -- then they cannot buy as much of the products that the rich want them to purchase.

Programs like Medicaid and child care subsidies help families in enormous ways. But they also help the wealthy -- they allow workers to continue working full time jobs (at terrible wages, I might add, especially if they’re eligible for Medicaid) as well as spend some income on products that they would otherwise have been unable to purchase.

Fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. Some may say that our current progressive form of taxation is unfair. I’d argue otherwise -- it’s fair in that it taxes people based on the size of their assets.

The poor pay less in taxes because they have less assets to protect, and they utilize less of the public services than what the so-called “job creators” use. Even the public services that they do qualify for help the wealthy to preserve a consumer class of citizens.

When people talk about tax cuts for the wealthy, what they’re really arguing for is putting the burden of funding the government on the backs of the middle class and working poor. But if a good or service is used by someone else at a far higher rate, shouldn’t that person be paying more for it?

If we split a pizza, and you eat six pieces and I have two, should we split the bill evenly?

A progressive form of taxation is justified under the same reasoning. The rich are getting a bigger piece of the pie -- they utilize far more of the government’s resources than they care to admit. They shouldn’t expect workers to pay a higher portion of the bill.

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