Thursday, May 11, 2006

Defending higher taxation

Local activist Greg Travis had a letter to the editor defending high taxation of the rich. Right off the bat, Travis engages in an ad hominem logical fallacy, saying that "the irony is delicious" that the person he is responding to is from Carmel. Why is it "delicious", Greg? Because Carmel has a reputation of being an affluent area? Do the arguments presented by Bradford Barkley somehow carry less logical merit because of where he resides? Do you know for a fact that Barkley himself is affluent, Greg, or is it possible that he simply believes in limited government?

Greg claims that the wealthiest 50 percent of Americans starts with people who make $30,000 per year. That may be true, but it does not address the important philosophical point that Barkley was making. When the top 50% of wage-earners pay the overwhelming majority (Over 96%, in fact) of the taxes while the bottom 50% benefit from those taxes the most, what does it hold for the future of out constitutional republic?

Historian Alexander Tytler wrote that "a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." We have seen this in action throughout history, but the New Deal and the Great Society caused many to come the the conclusion that people have an entitlement to the wealth of another. Now, simply confiscating less money from the wealthy is described as "corporate welfare.

Travis also claims that 25% of income goes to 5% of households and asks if those folks should be "shouldering the greatest tax burden." First of all, it is beyond silly to imply (as Travis does) that the top 5% have the "least" tax burden, when that is simply not true. Second, even many conservatives argue that those who are wealthiest should pay the highest tax burden. That is the fundamental principle of the flat tax. After all, 15% of $250,000 is much higher than 15% of $40,000. A bigger question is whether or not the rich should be paying a significantly higher percentage of their income to support the government.

Travis makes an interesting argument when he introduces morality into the question of who should be paying the most taxes. As I have said many times in the past, all laws are based on someone's version of morality. Whether we are using tax money to provide assistance to the poor, putting rules in place to restrict pollution of the environment, or prohibiting the murder of unborn children, moral values are always reflected in the law.

Troubleshooter also responded to the letter on the forum.