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Forum Post: On Fairness and Taxes

Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 6, 2012, 11:49 a.m. EST by Rico (3027)
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I continue to see posts here complaining about "redistribution of wealth."

Our economy is largely based on commerce in goods and services we don't need. That's why it's so sensitive to consumer 'mood' which has no effect on buying food and other necessities. Look around your extended family and circle of friends. How many are working at a job where they produce something that's actually needed, something that is not serving a market fueled by discretionary spending.

The discretionary economy is the result of the incredible efficiency with which we now produce life's necessitates; where a former, for example, once worked all day to feed his own small family, that same farmer today feeds literally thousands. The capitalists should note that the government is largely responsible for this condition via interventions in the market; we aren't forced to pay "what the market can bear" for our necessities due in large part to these interventions.

Given our economy is driven by the production and consumption of things we don't need, does it make sense that we would leave so many struggling ? Should we, for example, allow people's lives to be destroyed by a health condition just so the rest of us can buy more things we don't need ? To me this seems like a straightforward question of values, and I find it difficult to understand where people who disagree are coming from in terms of their personal values.

Our nation has many needs including healthcare, defense, infrastructure, paying down the debt, and so forth. Who should pay for these needs? Well, it isn't going to be the people with no discretionary money, it's going to have to be those people like myself with a lot of discretionary money, aka the wealthy.

Some will argue that we shouldn't take money from the wealthy, and I have to agree the very sound of this language disturbs me. Rather than look at it as taking, however, we should look at it as discretionary spending for healthcare, defense, roads, and so forth that takes the place of some of the other discretionary spending we engage in (everything above and beyond what we pay for necessities). All this means is that we're going to buy roads rather than another flat-screen TV, the next iPad, the next DVD. It's all discretionary spending, and what we spend it on is a reflection of our values.

When people like myself complain loudly about taxes that affect our personal discretionary spending, we're really saying "The government shouldn't be telling me where to spend my money, and I prefer to buy flat-screen TVs, vacations, iPads, yachts, etc." In fact, however, the government tells us to buy all sorts of things that we didn't individually chose to buy. This includes national defense, the SEC, the FDA, etc. We as individuals are forced to buy them because we as a society have decided they are important. The same could be said for healthcare, infrastructure, etc.

I still cringe when I hear people talking about taking my money. Unfortunately, this is the language with which we have framed the debate. I personally don't have a problem with paying more of the discretionary money I currently spend on luxury goods for programs which benefit the nation. It's a matter of the language being used; when my wife says, "you lazy slob, do the freakin' dishes," I feel put upon, but when I step up and do them of my own volition, I feel good about having contributed. Over the years, she has learned that complimenting me for contributing is more effective than scolding me for not.

If we persist in using the take language, the rich will resist and our opinion of them will remain hostile. If we can somehow turn the debate back around to a contribution that we appreciate, we may find the rich more willing to contribute.

As for me, I plan to make a voluntary contribution in my taxes from now on. If We The People were to start complimenting the other rich willing to do so, I suspect we may see more contributing than we do today. When We the People see someone like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates giving, we should praise them sky-high rather than say "well that's what they should do." Just a thought.

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[-] 1 points by kingscrossection (1203) 2 years ago

I understand what you are saying in the first part but you are still saying the same thing. As for the last part, I completely agree. No one has to do anything with their money other than pay taxes or their debt.