taxes and fairness, Facebook-style!

Someone on my friends list posted one of the copy-and-paste political posts, and I just couldn’t help myself. After all, it was about one of my favorite topics: taxes!

Other Person: To all those who don’t think their taxes are high enough and would be willing to pay more. Here is the address you can send your money to:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Greg Stevens: Imagine there are 10 people standing next to a boulder. If all 10 people push, it will move. If 1 person pushes, it will not move and the guy will just get tired. So one person says, “Hey everyone, let’s all push this boulder!” And someone says back, “Hey, if you are so into pushing the boulder, why don’t you do it by yourself first! Why should I do it if you aren’t already doing it???” It’s a stupid argument. It only works if everyone does it. One person doing it only drains the resources of the individual, and doesn’t push the boulder.

Other Person: Yes, because we all know, everyone isn’t paying their “fair share”.

Greg Stevens: “fair” is a boondoggle, because it is measured differently by different people. If you measure “fair” as a percentage of total income, poor people aren’t paying enough. If you measure “fair” as an impact on lifestyle, then rich people aren’t paying enough. It’s a non-starter issue.

Greg Stevens: It’s also changing the subject. My point was simply that to say “If you think your taxes should be higher why don’t you just do it???” is absurd, because one person doing it isn’t the same as everyone in a particular income group doing it. They don’t have the same effect.

Other Person: And your implication is that those with more money aren’t doing enough and need to be made to help more, because of course 70% of the tax burden paid by the top 10% of income earners isn’t enough assistance. God forbid we actually say we are overspending.

Greg Stevens: The top 10% of income earners earn 80% of the income in this country. If they are only paying 70% of the tax burden, they are UNDER-paying. …. even in a flat tax system!!

Greg Stevens: It’s an abuse of statistics to look at the total dollar amount paid by top income earners and compare it to the total dollar amount paid by the bottom, because the total dollar amounts reflect the skew in income, not the rates. The reason the top 10% of earners are paying 70% of the tax burden is because the CEO is making 100 times the mail clerk.

Other Person: And they are still paying a higherr percentage of their income than the mail clerk.

Greg Stevens: They are ALSO paying a higher percentage because that’s “fair” if you measure fairness as “different groups paying amounts that have EQUAL IMPACT on their ability to fulfill their needs.” When you are poor, paying 20% in taxes can mean having to choose between laundry detergent and food. When you are rich, paying 20% in taxes means having to go on 5 international vacations that year instead of 6.

Other Person: Fair is everyone pays the same percentage with zero deductions. Everyone should have the same amount of skin in the game, then they wouldn’t be so willing to say raise taxes. You cut your spending to what the few things that should be the govenment’s job.

Greg Stevens: “Fair is everyone pays the same percentage” : Why? What are you basing that on? Or is it simply an article of faith on your part?

Greg Stevens: An argument could be made that everyone should pay according to the public resources that they require for their income. A CEO has hundreds of employees that drive on public roads, runs a company with offices and warehouses that are protected by police, has employees that were educated in public schools… You could argue that the CEO is making use of a LOT MORE government resources than a poor person.

Other Person: Have to run to meet friends to watch some college games. Chat later