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I have an op-ed printed in today's San Jose Mercury News, laying out some reasons for bringing tax rates back up to where they were before Reagan.

I don't want to reproduce the whole op-ed here, mostly because I think if we can generate a lot of clicks at the newspaper's site, this newspaper and others will realize that there is an audience for progressive opinion.  So give it a click to let them know they can start gaining back readers by adding progressives to the mix of opinion writers they carry.  

And let people here know by clicking "recommend."

The op-ed is titled, Why America needs to go back to taxing the wealthy.  It begins,

While America has always been a place where a person could get rich, it used to be that you got rich a bit more slowly, and everyone benefited in the process. This is because we used to have very high tax rates at the top.

In it I make the argument that high tax rates force business owners to think long term.  

Back when it took time to make a fortune, business people had to rely on the health of the greater community to nurture their own enterprises. They had to think and act long-term. They had to carefully build solid businesses that satisfied their customers. They had to hold on to workers because their experience was valuable.

This makes businesses interdependent with the community.  If it takes you a while to build up a fortune, you need all the components of the community -- the schools, the roads, the courts - in good working order for the long term.

Then, when tax rates were reduced so far that people could get rich from a single quick-buck scheme, the incentives for long-term thinking and for maintaining the infrastructure disappeared.  Why not just sell everything off and pocket the cash?

But once top tax rates were lowered, vast personal fortunes could be realized from a single quick deal. This created incentives for people to engage in activities that we can now see helped make our country a worse, and less prosperous, place.

There's a lot more there, and let's see if we can get a discussion going here on ways to bring businesses back into our communities, keep our infrastructure maintained, and build our communities instead of just harvesting the public for a quick buck.

The op-ed is at Opinion: Why America needs to go back to taxing the wealthy

This op-ed was written for the Commonweal Institute's Progressive Op-Ed Program.

Originally posted to davej on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 12:08 PM PST.

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