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View Diary: Taxing the rich: it's not about "fairness" (182 comments)

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  •  Sorry to be the fly in the ointment (17+ / 0-)

    While I certainly agree with the poster's points, the trouble I see is the conservative rejoinder: that redistribution of wealth is a socialistic principle. And while there is nothing wrong with this, the facts are that more than 1/2 of all Americans abhor the word "socialist." Throughout most of the "American Century" social engineering was a reasonable activity for the government - since Reagan however, a concerted effort has been played by the GOP to "see" anything to do with social engineering as basically communist in nature. This effort has nearly kept us from providing health care for our population, much less anything else.  But such things do need to be done.  So our population has resorted to semantics to proceed.  For instance, we can not have public assistance for the poor or ill, but nearly every state in the union has some significant part of its economic activity tied to military spending - so much so that equipment, bases, personnel that are not even needed are kept alive by representatives from those states.  From a purely socialist point of view, it would be far more effective to put this money elsewhere. But because this isnt viewed as "socialist" it is the only way to prop up failing economies - particularly in the south.

    I suspect "fairness" is another of these words.  While many can not abide by the word socialist, most do want to seem as though they are fair.  And getting them to see taxation as a fairness issue seems far easier than getting them to act in a collective way for the good of their neighbor.  It is true that the uberwealthy will not buy into this either way.  However, the conservative world isnt one homogenous thing.  Many of the rural southern conservatives - that really should be voting progressive for their own good and the good of their kids - will reel at the "social engineering" aspect of the proposed taxation scheme, but will likely be more willing to be "fair."  

    •  Yep, exactly (3+ / 0-)

      Most Americans simply aren't ready for more sophisticated justifications for more progressive policies, but fairness always works. They'll like the policies when their lives get better and they have more money in the bank.

      Social Security is a hugely popular program but I bet that few Americans would be comfortable calling it socialist, which of course it is.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:30:54 PM PST

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    •  "Redistribution of wealth" is exactly what the (16+ / 0-)

      Conservatives have been doing for the past 30 years. This is another example of "accusing the other guy of doing the thing that you did." (h/t Bill Clinton)
      "Trickle-Down Economics" is really "Gush-UP Economics."
      Wage supression, union busting, and tax policy heavily skewed in favor of the richest people have made it so.

      Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

      by Icicle68 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:43:26 PM PST

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    •  I've been arguing for the revival of (12+ / 0-)

      the idea, now forgotten, but quite prominent during the American Revolution, and the establishment of the Constitution, that the rich are as much a threat to a republic as a standing army. See, for example, my comment below, with a quote from  "The American Revolutionaries, the Political Economy of Aristocracy, and the American Concept of the Distribution of Wealth, 1765-1900." And here's something I wrote back in July.

      So the real issue is not fairness, but how to limit or even obliterate large concentrations of wealth that threaten the very nature of republican self-government of, by, and for the people.

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:27:58 PM PST

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    •  "Fair" is an easy word to throw out there (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Yasuragi

      but it's not getting the job done.  It's a pretty easy one for the 1% to counter with the figures showing the percentage of income taxes they do pay, even under the present system (and they're impressive numbers!).  We've been less successful with our rejoinder - that the pay so much of the total income taxes because they have a disproportionately-sized share of the income pie.

      I absolutely agree with the diarist's points and ideas.  The only thing that struck me as I read this was that it needs to be significantly distilled: four bullet-points, four quick lines to chant, etc.  Of course, we have to be able to follow the sound bites with easily understood, though more in-depth, explanations at the drop of a hat, but still, this idea needs to get out there!!!

      The tax code is filled with rules that discourge undesireable behavior and encourage desireable behavior.  What we need now is to get 51% of the voting population to buy into the idea that the unlimited wealth of a few is bad for them!

      I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

      by 84thProblem on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:06:16 PM PST

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      •  "Fair" is getting the job done (4+ / 0-)

        The vast majority of American are in favor of raising taxes on high-income Americans. I agree that the argument at the end of your first paragraph must be made more strongly.

        •  I appreciate your point, but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfinx

          I think that if simply making the argument that the wealthy are not paying their fair share we'd be talking about a lot larger increase than 4.5% on their top rate.  What the diarist proposes is a campaign to shift the argument away from what is simply fair, and toward what is good for society.  The top rate should be in the 90% range, making it clear that we do not support the idea of a de facto aristocracy in thi country.

          I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

          by 84thProblem on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:47:51 AM PST

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          •  And a 90% rate is not supported (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Peace Missile

            The reasons are simple. It is seen as unfair, but the real reason is that top rates lower than 90% have resulted in a humming economy. Most of us will see it as raising them enough to be effective in improving the economy.

            •  You never get what you want by asking for it ... (0+ / 0-)

              only by asking for much more, then "settling" for what you really want.  Witness the conservatives - they've been arguing for what is essentially crazy-town for the rest of the country for three decades.  Do we actually live in crazy-town?  No, not really.  But I think that they're actually fine and dandy with the way things are right now!

              I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

              by 84thProblem on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:08:25 PM PST

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    •  well it appears to be working (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Sychotic1

      even the American Conservative thinks it is a winning argument, at least for now

      The Real GOP Fiasco: Fairness

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

      by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:49:40 PM PST

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    •  Well, I never actually mentioned "redistribution" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, Yasuragi, Sychotic1

      As I noted, this idea is pretty much agnostic about what you do with the taxes you collect.

      Put them in a "Rebuilding America" fund. Of course, actually rebuilding America will require hiring people, so in that sense it is redistributionist, but in a benign way. It's not, for example, giving it to "welfare queens".

      What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

      by RobLewis on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:08:21 PM PST

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    •  So, were we socialist before (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, srfRantz, Sychotic1, wbr

      in the post-WWII era when the middle class was so well developed under Keynesian economics?

      That's part of the key in re-framing this...what is different since 1980? What did work before then until the gop-pushed change in eco systems that doesn't work now?

      The Republicans have made a fundamental change and a major mistake with regard to democracy and economics...that can be fixed to some degree. (We realize that the changes in corporate structure over time and with banking relatively recently are other great changes that led to concentrations of power. And a different job)

      So, you say, we not talking socialism, we're talking economic democracy. And then allege that what we have now is growing, malignant economic dictatorship.

      It seems to me there are plenty of powerful words to be used and more than a few counters to the 'socialist' meme.  

      The truth is we are tortured by the truth.

      by walkshills on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:49:39 PM PST

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    •  "Fair" is a core liberal concept... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, ConfusedSkyes

      It has been analyzed and made precise by liberal political philosophers, primarily in recent years through the work of John Rawls. We relinquish this concept at our own peril. This diary is well meaning but deeply misguided in philosophical fundamentals. The diarist needs to read some political philosophy and do some research on what has been said about the concept of fairness before unilaterally relinquishing it as "squishy."

      Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

      by play jurist on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:35:15 AM PST

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    •  Tell that to Otto Van Bismarck (0+ / 0-)

      The conservative, aristocratic Prussian who passed anti-socialist laws and undercut the appeal of socialism by "old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance."  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Redistribution of wealth isn't socialist.  If that were true, every single government and business would be a socialist entity, since they necessarily take money from one party and give it to another.  State control of industry is socialist.  Liberals and progressives should stop fighting the figments of Republican imagination, and instead have the courage to argue for what they believe in.  

      Income has been progressively taxed since America started taxing income.  Rural southerners are not against progressive taxation.  They are against what is framed as punitive taxation (and are primed to like tax "relief").  They, like the rest of the country, generally don't understand marginal taxation.  Democrats don't bother trying to explain it, so why should they?  

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