Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fair shares

This is another phrase that we are hearing a lot lately in regard to taxes. And we hear it from both sides, probably a little more from liberals. Obama himself invokes it when arguing for returning top income tax levels to Clinton era rates and for the new Buffett tax proposal. The phrase isn't nearly as bad as 'class warfare'. But for liberals, I don't think we are gaining a whole lot by using it.

Fairness is something nearly everyone wants, especially when it comes to money and taxes. But as with many things, different people have different perceptions of what constitutes fair. Republicans think nearly all taxes as they currently stand for rich people are unfair. Democrats think many taxes for those same rich people are slightly unfair. The rhetoric from the right makes it seem like the difference in these two positions is bigger than it probably is. But in this environment of divided gov't they are differences that probably can't be bridged.

I guess my point is that when liberals invoke fairness when talking about taxes, they aren't doing anything to try and convince conservatives that they should agree with them. The only thing they are doing is reminding them that they already think taxes on the rich are unfair, but unfair in their sense of the conception of the word. So my proposal is to drop the whole fairness aspect of arguing for tax increases. Just stick to the fact that we have big deficits, need a lot more revenue, and can't take more from the middle class and poor who are already struggling too much right now. That's more than enough of a reason to raise taxes.

Plus no one ever really defines what they mean by fair. Liberals seem to think Clinton level rates on the rich is fair. But they never really explain why. Why not higher rates than that? Rates were much higher during prosperous economic times in the 50s and 60s. Were those rates fair? As a liberal who doesn't have an Ayn Rand type view of the rich I think it would be a good idea for the rich to pay more taxes than they currently do given the situation our economy is in. And I would argue doing so would be fair to them. But it would take a bit of leg work to make that argument. And even then it would be a slightly subjective assessment of what constitutes fair. So I think it would be easier and more effective to stick to other arguments for tax increases on the rich.

No comments:

Post a Comment