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

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  •  You can augment fairness without tossing it out (14+ / 0-)

    The diary's recommended lines of argument are all excellent. But the critique of the "fairness" argument, I think, fails.

    While it's true that twenty people will have twenty different perceptions of where the "fairness" line falls, and many of the wealthy will be convinced that it's unfair for taxes on them to be as high as (whatever the current level happens to be, no matter how low) - most of the populace will and does perceive the current levels of inequality as unfair, and the polls bear that out.  So it's a political winner, even if not logically compelling.

    So? Talk fairness and also the diarist's externalities. Progressives should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    One common theme of several of the externalities the diary highlights can be framed in a simpler way. A way that incorporates an appealing rhetorical ju-jitsu.

    Tax policies which allow the perpetual allocation of higher and higher proportions of wealth to a small elite are not conservative. To be genuinely conservative is to strive for stability. The redistribution of the last thirty years has changed the economic makeup of the polity, and the change will only accelerate and grow more drastic without policy changes favoring less inequality.

    A genuine conservative could argue about what the ideal distribution of wealth, and the ideal level of inequality, might be. But he cannot be genuinely conservative and claim that it's just fine for the distribution to grow ever more top-heavy from decade to decade.

    Further, to be consistent he must acknowledge that the ideal level of inequality is smaller than the current level - since the current level allows the economic elite to purchase legislation that exacerbates the instability.

    •  the essense is that the fairness issue isn't just (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, OhioNatureMom, zett, wbr

      about the fairness of taxes. It's about the fairness of the whole distribution of burdens and rewards in our society.

      The wealth of our society is not produced solely by the rich people who risk their money in investments as conservatives seem to imply. It is produced by the collective work of those who labor. That the rich should be able to capture the majority of that wealth that is produced largely through the work of others -- even if their work is directed by the rich -- is simply not fair and taxation is one means of mitigating that unfairness.

      This is, of course, the same point the diary author is making in his first bullet point. His point is only missing the obvious idea that the thing that is wrong with workers not sharing in the fruits of their labor is that it's unfair.

      •  The diarist makes a case that it is in the state's (8+ / 0-)

        interest to remove extreme inequality, whether fair or not.  There are many, many reasons a nation would want to limit inequality:  economic and political stability, better outcomes in the next generation of citizens, lower social services costs, broader tax base, etc...

        These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

        by Nailbanger on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:44:43 PM PST

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        •  Not to mention the preservation of democracy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wbr, Nailbanger

          Which is the very foundation of this country, and SHOULD be the number one test of all public policy and laws enacted in the US.  

          We got rid of the existing English aristocracy with our original revolution, but aristocracies (wealth bubbles) always re-form eventually.

          The worst "externality" of unchecked wealth accumulation is the "pollution" of democracy.  And our society needs to be protected from extreme wealth/power divergences, because it is un-American.

          If we are dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, then we need to make sure our laws and public policy support individual equality (at least politically).

          Wealth divergences in this country are the result of laws and state activity (the state prints money, writes tax law, protects "capital" and "banking," and aggressively enforces the abstract concept of "private property," for instance).  

          None of these abstract entities, OR the super rich which inevitably flow from those policies, could exist without a government fostering and supporting them.  

          If we want to live in a genuine democracy, we need the state to foster and enforce democracy at least as much as it does the other modern social abstractions.  

          Like private property or capital, Democracy simply does not exist without broad social, and ultimately, government enforcement.  

    •  Gotta agree with you... (7+ / 0-)
      The diary's recommended lines of argument are all excellent. But the critique of the "fairness" argument, I think, fails.
      I also am baffled by the author's perceived need to walk away from the fairness argument.

      It may not be the only argument for Progressive Taxation and is perhaps not even the best one to use on Capitol Hill types, but it is an argument that resonates with certain individuals who don't have the educational background to grasp more sophisticated arguments.

      Different audiences need to hear different arguments.  Often, the policy position that carries the day is the one that is supported by a number of different arguments that are used to persuade a variety of targeted audiences.

      If his ultimate point is that Dems should not restrict themselves to only the fairness argument, then I am in agreement.

      I personally think that the best argument is to use on Capitol Hill is to explain why steeply progressive income taxes do not actually impose any real sacrifice on the Top Two Percent of income earners if they are all facing the same drop in disposable dollars.

      No matter how sad it makes the finance industry, the ultimate truth is that progressive taxation (without loopholes) ensures that rich people will still be able to buy everything they used to buy with larger disposable incomes (due to lower tax rates), because the prices of all those expensive things they consume will be lowered to a level that they will find affordable.

      Remember...after the Great Depression hit in the 1930's, none of the mansions or yachts or beachfront property disappeared after the richest of the rich lost an incredible amount of paper wealth; they were simply obtainable at lower prices that [the now poorer] rich people could afford.

      •  You are right that different audiences need to (0+ / 0-)

        be provided different arguments and, IMHO, the same opinions in several different ways. How's this, you work on the cartoon version of progressive taxes and I'll work on the cartoon version of modern monetary theory? ...because THAT's the society in which we live. If it can't be communicated in a soundbite only a small portion of the electorate will follow it and, of course, none of the legislators.

        "When in doubt, do the brave thing." - Jan Smuts

        by bunnygirl60 on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 02:23:07 PM PST

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