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View Diary: Wealthy ready to sacrifice for their country (111 comments)

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  •  Taxes are the condo fees for citizenship. (2+ / 0-)
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    DocGonzo, neroden

    Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 08:24:56 AM PDT

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    •  Kinda (1+ / 0-)
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      Taxes in general are the price of civilization. But the basis for them is pretty arbitrary.

      Property taxes were created as a crude income tax during the agricultural economy, roughly proportional to the area's productive value. Of course the overwhelming majority of property now generates no revenue, only major costs. But still the taxes are paid on the now irrelevant basis. They're assessed at arbitrary times, or worse usually when real estate is in short supply against increased demand, as new owners buy, which sets the tax basis during a spike in prices. There is a reason to tax people who own property to support the services delivered to that aggregate property, but the current system is mostly an arbitrary way to calculate it - and therefore unfair to at least half the people paying it (which is everyone, as renters pay their landlords' taxes).

      Income taxes are also an arbitrary basis, derived solely on the principle that money is changing hands at that point. It's so arbitrary that most of its rules, that govern most of the taxes collected (or not), are not derived from either one's income itself or from state expenses on that taxpayer. Especially on corporations taxes are not linked to either what is being paid with them, or how the income is enabled or limited by the state's operations. But since money is changing hands, at least there's a chance that there's money there to collect for running the state.

      The really legitimate basis for taxation is the benefit people get from the state that taxes us. The simplest way to measure that benefit is not our income, which itself provides no benefit whatsoever (just management costs), but rather our consumption. It's our expenses that are the measure of our benefit, because only when we buy something are we getting something other than a number in an account (which some freaks do intrinsically value, but you can't eat it).

      We should set all taxation solely as a sales tax. Before you armor up on "that's regressive", relax because the tax should exempt necessities. There's a difference between the cost of surviving that everyone must pay, and the cost of living increasingly large that is discretionary. So basic housing costs are exempted, by calculating the costs of the bottom 20%ile in each zipcode for their primary residence rent/mortgage then excluding the cost of the utilities (including energy, phone, TV and Internet) paid on those bottom residences. Groceries (but not restaurants), used clothes or materials to make clothes, used furniture (less than 20 years old), public education, public transit, basic healthcare/insurance - all exempt. For everyone. So poorer people are protected from taxes that would conflict with surviving, as are even richer people who can afford it. Richer people are taxed on all purchases not exempted, though their home expenses have the same exempted amount as everyone else in their zipcode. Equity purchases that don't transfer control (ie. 50%+1) are taxed at a low rate of somewhere 0.1 to 1%, depending on proper analysis of investment impact. Including home purchases, so the bank pays the sales tax when it buys and mortgages a home, which the homeowner doesn't pay until mortgage is paid off - minus the exemption for the value of the bottom 20%ile in their zipcode.

      The sales tax of 25%, with those necessities exemptions, would deliver about $2.5-3T a year on our $14T GDP. The government would be able to cut some welfare payments and programmes, as the poorest 20%ile of people would pay no taxes. The tax system's cost would plummet, as only sellers would be reporting and submitting taxes, who are much fewer in number and generally already keep records as a business operation. Which also makes enforcement easier, as there are fewer auditable taxpayers who are both easier to audit and much more effective in shutting down when failing to comply. And of course people's privacy is no longer invaded annually on a massive scale with reporting of most financial activity.

      Income taxes and property taxes all replaced. A more reliable and equitable system actually based on its benefits, actually paid by those who benefit from it. Simplicity that protects the poorest, favoring savings that can be invested rather than eating it as it comes by.

      It's not like a condo. It's like a country where everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness protected, paid by people who are living well beyond their merely rightful place in our society.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 09:02:20 AM PDT

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      •  Not a great design; allows superrich to take over (0+ / 0-)

        The fact is that any market economy will tend, naturally, to end up with "winners" and "losers"; the winners will always have advantages at winning the next round; and any economy with less than confiscatory estate taxes will find the winners' children winning, et cetera.

        So without redistribution, eventually one person ends up filthy rich and everyone else ends up with nothing.  Long before then, that person can buy the government.

        There are several ways to deal with this.  In most countries, the progressive income tax is used, and that works.  I think we should just do that.  Basic income tax exemption of, say, 1 million dollars per year, and a 99% tax rate on any income after that.  Something like that.

        Another way is through the estate tax -- Andrew Carnegie favored a confiscatory estate tax after a certain low level.  That would mean "you can't take it with you".

        There are others.  But the fact is that a sales tax would be a disaster unless it was coupled with a means of preventing the takeover by the superrich.


        You're also quite confused about the invasiveness of the sales tax, which requires a massive tracking system for every business in the country.  The income tax is really no more awful in paperwork or privacy terms (apart from the endless "tax breaks" shoehorned into it).  They're both "transfer taxes" triggered by transferring money between people.

        I'd suggest using:

        1. land taxes to pay for things directly related to land usage, like utilities connections, roads, and fire service (land ownership already has to be tracked, as it's merely an idea, so the paperwork isn't really that hard)
        1. using income taxes to avoid massive accumulation of wealth and power
        1. using pollution taxes to generate most government income (specifically by making the people who are causing economic harm pay for it) -- this will generate massive amounts of money.  And if you look carefully you'll notice that my previous two proposals are actually also Pigovian taxes (taxes which charge for negative externalities).
        1. using other Pigovian taxes as needed.
        1. and funding what's left, which should be small, with a slow inflation.  In other words, printing money.

        -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

        by neroden on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 12:37:32 AM PDT

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