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  1. #21
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    no taxes would mean no public health care etc. non progressive tax rate would mean too high taxing for those who doesent make as much money as the 1% of the people who are rich or if the tax % was set according to the people who doesent earn much, government would lose a lot of money from not taxing rich people more, thus leading the country to not be able to afford public health care etc to people who actually need it(the ones who doesent earn much).

    in short non progressive tax rate would benefit the rich a little, who are the minority and poor(the majority) would suffer. therefore, even tho some selfish rich bastard is crying about injustice of him having to pay bit more taxes than some guy flipping burgers at mcdonalds, its in reality more injustice in larger scale for him not pay more, because majority would suffer from his greedy ass "my precious" cash money attitude.

    so its really about whether you look at larger % of people who suffer or individuals who suffer. if you look at the % it would be injustice to not have progressive tax rate or the benefits from having taxes in the first place. or you can look at one guy crying about their already large income being limited. imo if someone who is wealthy and cries about getting taxed more, can move out of the country to some other country that doesent tax at all or stay and stop crying.
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
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  2. #22
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfairy View Post
    I have this friend who feels very strongly that taxes are unfair and that they should either be a flat percentage or we shouldn't have taxes at all. I tried to argue with him and realized that all I had was ethical beliefs (such as it would be more costly to people who didn't have all their needs met than it would be for someone for whom it would just decrease luxury, to which he responded something about not enabling people) combined with the assumption that without taxes the government wouldn't have any money, and couldn't really do much of anything. I'd like to have some better arguments, which don't rely on emotional appeal. Do any of you have any to offer? Would you indulge my lack of education on the subject and clarify for me the essential points about how everything works?



    Please don't reply if you agree with this proposition, unless you have brief comments for the purpose of clarification. Thanks.
    Tell him to read this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Better-Ang...mm_pap_title_0

    His opinion on the role of government might change (unless he has no empathy, in which case he is hopeless).
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  3. #23
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    The reason that governments provide services and relief to poor people, and tax them less, is not altruistic. The more people who have no money (because they gave been taxed too much or don't earn enough) and as a result can feed themselves or their children, the more social instability there is. More crime, more protests, and greater likelihood of violent action against the rich and the government. It is much, much cheaper to give food, shelter, and healthcare to the needy, and pay to educate their children, and legislate fair employment laws, than it is to deal with an angry and disenfranchised underclass.

  4. #24
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    If by flat tax you mean the same rate for everybody, this is unwieldly and inflexible from a management standpoint.

    It's like having only one shoe size for everybody. Or having a hammer as the only tool.

    Or better yet it's like making a monolithic structure where if you have to change or repair a part of it, you must effect all parts of it, essentially rebuilding the entire thing.

    With a more progressive tax, localized adjustments can be made without effecting everyone every single time in hamfisted fashion.

    Not fair? Define 'fair'.

  5. #25
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dala View Post
    The reason that governments provide services and relief to poor people, and tax them less, is not altruistic. The more people who have no money (because they gave been taxed too much or don't earn enough) and as a result can feed themselves or their children, the more social instability there is. More crime, more protests, and greater likelihood of violent action against the rich and the government. It is much, much cheaper to give food, shelter, and healthcare to the needy, and pay to educate their children, and legislate fair employment laws, than it is to deal with an angry and disenfranchised underclass.
    Otto Von Bismarck practically made the the welfare state. He did this primarily because he foresaw a communist revolution.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  6. #26
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfairy View Post
    Please don't reply if you agree with this proposition, unless you have brief comments for the purpose of clarification. Thanks.

    1) Taxes are the most efficient way to generate resources for those projects whose nature make them inefficient in a free market. These includes lots of cases of externalities (positive/negative), common good situations and natural monopolies.

    2) "Cost to live" and "Flat Taxes" are regressive.

    a) The cost to live is largely fixed: Food, Clothing and Shelter are the big names here, however it doesn't really explain why it is so harmful. Things like Transportation, Communication and Education are also "cost to live" in a modern world: without them, you are unable to function inside society. These basic costs consume the majority of the average income (almost by definition). Taxing that income, which happens before expenses, means a violent contraction of remaining resources. Further, it will affect a large amount of the population (statistically, below average income, probably about 1/3 of the population) and constrain the ability to function in society.

    b) Flat taxes are therefore regressive; they would consume the available resources of the average person more than wealthy. Most flat taxes offer minimum income, etc. All of these are simply ways of dealing with the core regressive issue: they are all made better the more gradients there are.

    ---

    There is a large conceptual issue that causes issues here too.

    To start, lets talk about the broken window issue. When I go around breaking people's windows causing people fix them, economic activity is generated but there is no "positive gain". There is an absolute loss: those that repair windows could of generated other economic activity, hence my activity (breaking windows) is destroying real wealth. A free market, via insurance or parcelling of services, does not fundamentally deal with the destruction of wealth. It's financially covered, and it can provide some incentive to dissuade (suing those that break windows), but the net economic gain/loss is a matter of efficiency in and of itself. This applies to the majority of the services we have, from police and fire protection to welfare and unemployment.

    There are also other issues, like natural monopolies, (power distribution, roads, etc.) that are difficult to have competition in or are prone to rapid depletion, and often have a net benefit for existing (bridges bring goods for trade into an area; even if you don't use the bridge, via a toll, its very existance generates wealth). Granted, there are a lot of nuances to some of these - tolls may pass its costs on to the consumer through charges to transporters rather than through taxation - but often the issue is complicated and multi-layered. Roads need to tie into bridges, for instance, while avoidance of tolls causes "deadweight" like losses (that may differ from taxation deadweight losses).

    ---

    Put another way, taxes are as good as they are spent; progressive taxation is the best way to handle the marginal value of wealth.

    The argument of "taxes are theft" is a moral argument, no different than the moral argument for the rich to have a larger burden. Both carry weight in proportion to their morality. However, ultilitarian and efficient value of taxation is very rarely disputed: it is more efficient*.

    (*Efficient being determined by the collection and allocation of taxes: no point taxing and paying people to wage war... err... break windows.)

  7. #27
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Some observations:

    1. A values-based argument is not the same as an emotional argument. Values have their own logic. You can question a value, or hold a different value than someone else, but that is now the basis for another discussion.

    2. Fairness does not mean sameness. A fair teacher does not give each student the same grade, nor does a fair judge give each convict the same sentence. A flat tax by this standard is actually unfair. Finding the fair balance in a progressive tax system can be difficult, but can be approached and is worth the effort.

    3. As an example, consider the average family. Not everyone will eat the same amount of food, have the same medical expenses, bring in the same income, or do the same amount of chores. We recognize this as appropriate, and the opposite (equal contribution from all) impossible. Marx had a point with "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". You can't get blood from a turnip.

    4. There is nothing wrong with wealth inequality. Our society (at least in the U.S.) does not guarantee that everyone will have identical wealth and income, nor should it. It does give everyone the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". To the extent that wealth inequality is extreme enough to interfere with this, it must be mitigated. This is the principle of the safety net of social programs. People, especially children, need adequate food, shelter, safety, medical care, and education to live, avoid servitude, and be able to advance themselves through their own efforts.

    5. Several years ago, some candidate was proposing a flat tax. Under this system, the wealthiest people would end up paying less tax. Assuming we needed the overall level of revenues to stay constant, this means the shortfall would be made up by poorer people paying more. Essentially the tax burden would be shifted toward those with fewer resources to pay it. This is like asking the shortest, slightest person in the office to put a heavy box on the shelf, rather than a larger, stronger one.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  8. #28
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Some observations:

    1. A values-based argument is not the same as an emotional argument. Values have their own logic. You can question a value, or hold a different value than someone else, but that is now the basis for another discussion.

    2. Fairness does not mean sameness. A fair teacher does not give each student the same grade, nor does a fair judge give each convict the same sentence. A flat tax by this standard is actually unfair. Finding the fair balance in a progressive tax system can be difficult, but can be approached and is worth the effort.

    3. As an example, consider the average family. Not everyone will eat the same amount of food, have the same medical expenses, bring in the same income, or do the same amount of chores. We recognize this as appropriate, and the opposite (equal contribution from all) impossible. Marx had a point with "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". You can't get blood from a turnip.

    4. There is nothing wrong with wealth inequality. Our society (at least in the U.S.) does not guarantee that everyone will have identical wealth and income, nor should it. It does give everyone the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". To the extent that wealth inequality is extreme enough to interfere with this, it must be mitigated. This is the principle of the safety net of social programs. People, especially children, need adequate food, shelter, safety, medical care, and education to live, avoid servitude, and be able to advance themselves through their own efforts.

    5. Several years ago, some candidate was proposing a flat tax. Under this system, the wealthiest people would end up paying less tax. Assuming we needed the overall level of revenues to stay constant, this means the shortfall would be made up by poorer people paying more. Essentially the tax burden would be shifted toward those with fewer resources to pay it. This is like asking the shortest, slightest person in the office to put a heavy box on the shelf, rather than a larger, stronger one.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  9. #29
    null Jonny's Avatar
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    I can provide you with an anecdotal example regarding flat vs. progressive taxation.

    From the IRS.gov 2010 data:

    Total Taxable Salaries/Wages/Interest Income
    $5,976,961,607,000

    Total Revenue from Taxable Salaries/Wages/Interest Income
    $1,163,687,589,000

    Thus, the estimated flat income tax rate necessary to match the revenue of our current progressive system is approximately 19.5%. Simply put, all else equal, we could take $0.195 dollars from each $1 dollar a person earns through interest or via salary and have the same tax revenues coming in as we would under our current progressive system.

    For a single person making $30,000 per year, under the current system this person would pay approximately $4,100 per year in federal income tax vs. $5,900 per year under the flat tax system.
    Current Monthly Net Income:
    $2,160
    Flat Tax Monthly Net Income:
    $2,000

    For a single person making $70,000 per year, under both the current system and a flat tax system this person would pay approximately $13,700 in federal income tax per year. This would be the break-even point. Above this income level a person would pay less under a flat tax system, below this income level a person would pay more.

    For a single person making $350,000 per year, under the current system this person would pay approximately $100,600 per year in federal income tax vs. $68,600 per year under a flat tax system.
    Current Monthly Net Income:
    $20,800
    Flat Tax Monthly Net Income:
    $23,450


    These numbers don't include other taxes paid, such as FICA or state taxes, but still serve to illustrate the effects of a change in the current tax system. The question people need to ask themselves is whether or not that $160 is more important to a person taking home $2k per month than the $2,650 is to a person taking home 20k per month. Further, what percentage of those monies will be saved, invested, and/or spent.

    Personally, the reasons why we have a progressive tax system seem pretty clear. People with lower income levels have a much lower baseline spending than those in the higher income brackets, and that few hundred dollars could mean having to forgo health insurance, or some other necessity. For the people making hundreds of thousands of dollars, that extra several thousand per month will just be icing on the cake. And before people jump in with a discussion of small businesses and hiring, remember that monies used to pay for employee salaries and other business expenses (save for capital investments which may be amortized over many years) are pre tax and thus could still be made without affecting profitability (e.g. if hiring a new employee wouldn't result in a net loss under the flat tax system, then it won't result in a net loss under the current tax system).

    I'll leave the other discussion, taxation vs. no taxation, for another time.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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