More taxes? Because they can afford it

When discussing taxes this past week with a co-worker, I had voiced my opinion that everyone ought to have some skin in the game.  Namely, that everyone should bear some tax burden regardless of their income, even if it were only a hundred bucks a year.  As it stands people whose income is not effected negatively by tax increases get to effect my wallet with their vote.

This co-worker, “Mike”, thought it was perfectly reasonable for the wealthiest Americans to shoulder the heavily lopsided tax burden they do–and even more–since “they can afford it”.  I have heard this before, and I still find it wanting as a defense for soaking the wealthy with all the taxes.

Whether they can afford it is irrelevant to whether it is justifiable.  After all, the wealthy could probably afford to pay $10 or $11 a gallon for gasoline; or $6 for a loaf of bread.  But we don’t suggest we charge people based on their income just because their bank account can bear it.

Of course, Mike understands this point.  And admittedly the tax burden scenario is a bit different.  But It’s really only different for selfish reasons.  For example, the poor don’t financially benefit from the wealthy paying $6 for bread.  But they do substantially benefit from the wealthy paying as much of the tax burden as they possibly can.  That’s where the money for the social programs come from.

Although, if the poor did somehow benefit from income-ratio pricing for commodities, I’d bet all the money I could borrow that you’d hear that the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share for bread.


  1. Didn’t coveting used to be a sin?

    These folks need to get out of the U.S. sometime and check out how most people in the world live. The covetous folks are super-rich compared to 95% of the world and would probably change their views on taxing those “who can afford it” if they were the ones being taxed.

  2. What about a tax based on how much you actually have in your bank account? Certainly if you have “a lot” you could afford to “give” more.

    • It doesn’t even matter. There is never too much you can tax the wealthy (Carter, I’m looking in your direction!) There is such animosity for people who have more than [the generic] you. People are terribly jealous and envious.

  3. I don’t like any type of progressive tax system, but I’m not sure I think the dirt poor should have to pay taxes. I don’t know. Maybe a buck or two a year, but not $100. I’ve known people who seriously can’t come up with $20 a week, despite trying to find work.

    • While I can’t speak to the people you know, I know several people who can’t come up with $20 a week, but smoke up to 2 packs of cigarettes a day.

      I am of the opinion that having to pay some taxes is requisite for voting. Too many people are voting for the guy who will make my taxes to go up so they can have it.

  4. “They can afford it” is a reasonable, if not wholly-thought out, rationale for a progressive tax scheme. It’s the idea behind the “to whom much has been given, much will be expected” sorts of truisms.

    Just as important as the “they can afford it” reason, it seems to me, is that the wealthiest have already benefited the most financially from the US system, that they stand to LOSE the most if things get worse and it is in their own best interest to do so. Sure, we could stop paying for education and roads, but then, what would the wealthy business owner do for employees or transportation?

    These revenues will be levied entirely on the rich, the business of household manufacture being now so established that the farmer and laborer clothe themselves entirely. The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied. The poor man who uses nothing but what is made in his own farm or family, or within his own country, pays not a farthing of tax to the general government, but on his salt; and should we go into that manufacture also, as is probable, he will pay nothing. Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer [ie, the poor working stiff] will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings…

    The great mass of the articles on which impost is paid is foreign luxuries, purchased by those only who are rich enough to afford themselves the use of them. Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal powers.

    ~Thomas Jefferson

    • Dont see anything there about welfare, foodstamps, section 8, “free” school breakfast lunch and dinner.

      I always knew you were a socialist. Aside from your passage NOT being about redistribution of wealth (what a surprise, a bible verse from you applied completely out of context), but rather about faith and rewards in Heaven, the founders tried and quickly rejected socialism when they first got here. Soon it was abandoned for “if a man doesnt work, neither shall he eat” capitalism. People immediately realized they would get–even if they sat on their rear ends while the rest of the community worked hard. And it wasnt until capitalism that people could actually grow wealth.

  5. “I’m a socialist…”? What would make you think that? Sorry, but t’ain’t so. I’m a Christian communitarian, as far as my faith system goes, but I don’t think socialism works very well at the gov’t level. I’d be opposed to implementing socialism here.

    Not sure what brought that on.

  6. As to what I DID actually say (and what Thomas Jefferson was saying), I guess you think it’s a mistake to think that those who have profited the most from the capitalist system have a logical and moral obligation to pay back the most? And I guess you think Jefferson was flat out wrong in his ideal of a state where the wealthy paid for all (or most) of the common needs?

    Do you think Thomas Jefferson was a socialist?

    • In historical context, the wealthy were the only ones who used anything. The poor fended for themselves by providing their own food and housing

      • Yes. What of it?

        Do you think Jefferson’s statements are socialist in nature? He obviously favored a very progressive tax scheme, one in which the poor paid nothing and the rich paid it all (or close to it). Do you think that is socialist – that is, do you think being supportive of a progressive tax scheme = socialism?

        Also, do you think Jefferson was wrong to favor such a progressive tax scheme?

        Also, I’m still wondering (although I think I get your drift): You stand opposed to the truism that to those who have been given much, much will be expected?

        And finally, I’m still wondering where the socialism charge came from, since I didn’t bring up anything about socialism, nor did I bring up “welfare, food stamps,” etc. I just said I think that it is in the self-interest of the wealthy to support the system that has allowed them to GET wealthy. That just seems moral and logical to me.

        I’m guessing you are saying you DON’T think it is moral and/or logical? If so, well, we’d disagree.

        • It spoke to the fact that the poor didn’t leech off the government. The wealthy used the roads and schools so naturally they paid for them.

        • Dan Trabue says:

          “It spoke to the fact that the poor didn’t leech off the government.”

          I’m sorry, what spoke to the fact? I didn’t say that the “poor leeched off” the gov’t (or didn’t). What brought that up?

          What I said was that, for a few reasons, a progressive tax scheme makes sense and then I listed the reasons. None of them were about “poor people leeching.”

          How about this? Could we agree to go back to what Jefferson promoted? Getting rid of all other taxes and instituting a sales tax exclusively on luxury items – on items that only the relatively wealthy buy? New cars, boats, houses over $100,000, that sort of thing? Would you support that sort of tax, the sort that Jefferson promoted, and getting rid of all other taxes (admittedly, that would make those luxury taxes pretty high).?

          • What brought that up was the fact that the taxes targeted the wealthy because they were the ones utilizing the governmental benefits, roads, schools, etc. They did not tax the rich to supliment dead beat social program leeches.

            Additionally, no, I would not support a tax on things only the wealthy buy/use. I would support a 10-15% sales tax on everything as a replacement to the income tax. Everyone should be contributing.

        • Dan Trabue says:

          So, do you think Jefferson’s ideals were wrong?

          Do you think that Jefferson was a socialist?

  7. I’m confused by what you mean as “the wealthy” and whether you are including yourself in that number or wish to be in that number, thus your defence of them as a hopeful to join them so do not wish to see the system changed, as it currently benefits the wealthy more.

    I think that the most fair method is a simple flat tax – a set percent that everyone pays, and no loopholes or shelters. that way, everyone pays the same in a meaningful sense and no more hidden manufacturing or sales taxes. time for taxes to not be so complicated and cpmpounded as to be uncomprehendable.

  8. The poor would probably appreciate a 15% sales tax (they currently pay more*, if you include state taxes and social security and other expenses incurred from taxes), UNLESS you’re speaking of adding 15% ON TOP of the taxes they already pay.

    In that case, they certainly couldn’t afford it (they already struggle or just can’t afford it) and you’d be talking of a REGRESSIVE tax, not a flat tax.

    (*Note: State tax systems are often REGRESSIVE, with the poor paying 10-15% of their income on taxes while the richest pay >5% of their total income on taxes.)

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