Debate:Why a Progressive Tax?

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Reading the Liberal Beliefs page, I ran into this one (belief in a progressive tax) and the arguments in favor seem incomplete at best.

The following are assertions I feel require justification. Please note that they are not verbatim, but capture the essence of what the speaker was, I believe, trying to say. I am *NOT* attempting to set up straw men here. If you feel I have misrepresented a statement, please say what you think is meant, and we can discuss that. Nevertheless, I would appreciate justifications for the statements in these lists, because I hear them mentioned a lot, not just here.

The list follows:

  • "Tax rich people more because they are rich and can afford it."
  • "The rich should give more back."
  • "It is unfair that x% of the population makes y% of the money, and therefore tax codes should tax them more."
  • "Taxing the rich more as a percentage of income benefits the poor."

BlueSprite 15:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Tax rich people more because they are rich and can afford it[edit]

The implication here is possession of money is a sufficient condition for having it taken from you. Why? BlueSprite 15:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Several reasons:
  • Because massive concentration of wealth is undemocratic. How many Senators return your calls, as opposed to, say, Warren Buffett's?
I don't follow. I still get 1 vote, just like Warren Buffet. Who a senator talks to is his prerogative. Any judgement on how the senator does their job should be left to the 1 man 1 vote system. I don't see this as affecting the democratic process at all. BlueSprite 18:29, 2 December 2008 (EST)
You Libertarians are so cute when you blatantly ignore reality. --Gulik 15:19, 4 December 2008 (EST)
  • Said concentration of wealth tends to get passed down along family lines, producing a de facto aristocracy. (See: Paris Hilton, George W. Bush, the Kennedys.)
See my answer below. BlueSprite 18:29, 2 December 2008 (EST)
  • After a certain point, money ceases to be anything but a method of keeping score. There's a limit to how much cocaine even Lee Iaccoca could consume.
What about its value as a means to investment. Investment is a critical component of a healthy economy, and those nations that penalize investment generally do so at their peril.
  • "Taxes are the rent we pay to live in a civilization" (Not sure who said it, but I like that quote.) Rich people gain MORE from Society than poor people, in the form of things like police protection from those who would Take Their Stuff. Also, massive social clout: when was the last time anyone offered YOU a tax break to move to a new town?
--Gulik 16:28, 2 December 2008 (EST)
See my argument below, re: Tax Break, um, recently actually. And I'm considering it. I make less than 60k/year, but I'm always looking for opportunities. BlueSprite 18:29, 2 December 2008 (EST)

The rich should give more back[edit]

The implication here is that rich people owe society. Why should we draw the conclusion that wealth is evidence of owing people something? BlueSprite 15:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Because "society" is what allowed these people to GET that money, instead of digging for grubs with a flint-headed spear under a tree somewhere. --Gulik 16:30, 2 December 2008 (EST)
Society provides people with certain opportunities true. It is easier to make money when there is rule of law, that is certain. Perhaps there is a case to be made that people owe society, (I might challenge this, but will accept it for the time being for the sake of argument), nevertheless, there is nothing to say that rich people owe more than the others. If it is opportunities that society provides, then the case would have to be made that rich people got more opportunities in order to become rich. This is not clear to me at all. I think a more likely (or at least equally likely) explanation is that people who tend to become rich seize the opportunities that they find more often, more quickly, and more competently than most. In business as in war, those who are lucky tend to be those who are ready when opportunities present themselves.
Also do not forget that rich people contribute the lion's share to society even *without* taxes. Consider the following argument: in a free market two people who make a trade or transaction both believe they are better off or they wouldn't make the trade/transaction. If a rich person achieves their wealth within the law, then it follows that their wealth is a valid measure of how much they have helped other people already. Unless you want to make the case that all rich people are thieves, or that most rich people are thieves, I think this argument describes most wealthy people, or at least those who have achieved their own wealth.
You mentioned in another context that wealth tends to form aristocracies, and it seemed that you object to the principle that people should be allowed to inherit wealth. I offer the following counter-argument: Unless the inheritor is committing crimes, then the inheritor spends the money within the law, and does so either wisely or unwisely. If the inheritor spends the money unwisely, they will lose it, or at least a portion of it. If the inheritor spends it wisely and within the law, then spending (or investing) of it necessarily is helpful to people. BlueSprite 18:25, 2 December 2008 (EST)
"Consider the following argument: in a free market two people who make a trade or transaction both believe they are better off or they wouldn't make the trade/transaction." - two points I would make here: one, that is an unfounded assertion, not a fact; and two, what "free market" do you refer to? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:28, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I did not assert it was a fact, but rather an argument. By free market I mean a situations in which there is Rule of Law, contracts are enforced, and people are free legally to decide for themselves which offers they wish to accept, and which offers they wish to make. I feel my argument is a sound one. Why would two people enter into an uncoerced transaction if they did not both feel they would be better off making the transaction than not? Of course, there is always insanity, but almost by definition, no account can be made for the insane in any case. There is charity as well, perhaps, but if someone wishes to lessen themselves materially for the sake of charity, surely we should allow that. BlueSprite 13:48, 6 December 2008 (EST)
You are indeed asserting it - it is not an observation, but a projection of what might happen under some sort of ideal circumstances. By the way, you know people don't behave, as economists used to think, as rational actors, right? ħumanUser talk:Human 18:37, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Speaking as someone who's studied drama before this, actors are never rational. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 19:42, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Haha. Well human, I did not assert that they were necessarily better off, but rather that they thought they were. What is the alternative to assuming that people pursue their own interests? That they behave randomly? That they pursue their own destruction? Should we hold people harmless from their own choices because people do not act rationally? I certainly know of no transactions that I've observed in myself, my friends, or family that were not based either on charity or the belief that the transaction would render them better off. Sometimes they have been wrong, or made poor calculations on how to optimally achieve that, but the transactions have nevertheless been based on that assumption. Human, what do you think generally drives people to make uncoerced transactions? BlueSprite 11:39, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I think you kind of hit on what I am partly trying to say - people may "think" they are making themselves better off, but what if they are wrong, and are worse off? Now the transaction made them poorer, while it may still have enriched the other party. Answers to your end question: Sex. Advertising. Any number of irrational desires or perceived "needs". Nostalgia. Inebriation. Etc. ħumanUser talk:Human 18:40, 7 December 2008 (EST)
This "think" vrs. "is" issue... First of all, if you look, that was how I originally phrased it, that they "think" they are better off, rather than they "are" better off. Hence my confusion at your objections. This counterargument I understand a great deal better, but I think we'll find that the original point still stands.
If a person thinks they are better off, but really are not, then one of two things probably happened: 1) they were lied to or 2) they didn't think it through enough. If they were lied to (i.e. the transaction was fraudulent), then the Rule of Law has been violated, and redress should be sought from the courts. If they didn't think it through then tough. I'm sorry, but I believe in personal responsibility. Live and learn, manage your risks, study your wealth and your investments before you make them, and don't do things that are self-destructive. Plan ahead. In a word: think.
Again, I assert that if someone gains wealth within the Rule of Law, then, since each transaction that takes place is uncoerced, then participants in a transaction must all think they are better off or they wouldn't do it. Therefore, gaining wealth is evidence of helping other people.
If some of those people did not benefit as they expected to from said transactions, well that is their responsibility. They could have chosen not to take part. But so long as you genuinely have Rule of Law, then in a free market there will always be a pressure to have transactions be mutually beneficial, and every opportunity to protect yourself from bad offers. I don't think the the conclusion that wealth is a sign of having helped people is really a stretch by any means. BlueSprite 20:42, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Again, you want it both ways - "think they are better off" = "gaining wealth"? If I fool someone - not defraud them, fool them - into a transaction whereby I gain wealth and they only think they are better off, is my wealth (back to your original point) an indication that I made a bunch of other people wealthier?
"But so long as you genuinely have Rule of Law" - so you are arguing for intensive government intervention and regulation of the alleged "free market" in order to maintain this "rule of law"? Is not the "rule of law" a coercion? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:44, 8 December 2008 (EST)
This intrusion into the free market is the intrusion necessary to enforce rule of law, am I reading that correctly?
You cannot have a free anything without Rule of Law. Rule of Law can involve coercion, but it is coercion by the Law, not by the individual, or by the whims of those who lead nations, or by the random person off the street. If you fool someone, then you have either defrauded them or they have not thought through the proposition sufficiently. Since you ruled out fraud, then you are dealing with someone who did not think through the proposition. It is a persons responsibility to look after their own interests. They have failed themselves.
Let's try a thought experiment here and take away the element of compensation. If you assist someone without seeking reward, but the assistance turns out to hurt them, who's fault is it? If someone comes to you and asks you to help convert their car into a small cube of scrap metal, and you help them do this, does it make sense that they come to your door the next day and curse you for turning their car into a small cube of scrap metal? I posit that it does not make sense, since it is up to the owner of the car to decide what they do with it. And yes, I would still call it assistance, since you helped accomplish something that someone else decided they wanted accomplished, for whatever reason.
Does this change if you are the one who proposes something that will not, in the end be helpful? If, for instance, you go to someone tell them you'd like to turn their car into a small cube of scrap metal. If they agree, what have you done wrong?
Now, some people get wealthy by looking for fools and fooling them. I agree that this sounds like a crappy way to make money. But if, in fact, they have defrauded noone I must cannot say they owe anyone anything.
I suppose there is something in what you say that if you fool someone, then should money you make from that really count toward being considered evidence of assisting someone? In certain circumstances, I suppose not. If you seek to fool someone, and find someone to fool, then I would say they have simply not done anything wrong. If a fool comes to you and seeks something that harms themselves, then I would say that you have helped them and that any harm that comes to them as a result of this transaction is their own fault. I think the point about wealth being evidence of having assisted people stands, at least in the vast majority of cases, and that in the remainder, we can say that nothing wrong has been done, unless Rule of Law has been violated. BlueSprite 14:30, 8 December 2008 (EST)

It's unfair that x% of people make y% (for y >> x) of the money, therefore we should tax them more[edit]

Why is it unfair? I see no reason to conclude this. If it is unfair, why is it sensible to tax them rather than some other means of redress of grievance? BlueSprite 15:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that people who favor a progressive tax do so because of sheer ENVY that somebody else worked harder than them and was successful, and must now be PUNISHED for it. Since nobody actually thinks that way outside of a few hardline Bolsheviks and the Imaginary Liberals In Your Brain, the question is moot, and I shall respond to this question with a simple "Mu". --Gulik 16:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)
I don't understand what you said here. I can't parse from what you said whether or not you agree with the statement "It's unfair that x% of people make y% (for y >> x) of the money, therefore we should tax them more." Perhaps you feel it's a straw man? I simply don't follow you. BlueSprite 18:02, 2 December 2008 (EST)
Your inability to comprehend my logic does not disprove it. Yes, your argument looked to me like a blatant strawman, one dressed up like a Bitter Liberal Loser(tm). --Gulik 15:23, 4 December 2008 (EST)
OK, my statement that I didn't understand was not intended to be an argument, but rather a request that you clarify. Sorry for the confusion. As for straw men, I chose these points as starting points because I found these arguments nearly verbatim in another debate, and because said points made no sense to me. As for your logic, I don't actually see an argument, just an opinion. You still haven't said whether or not you agree with the statement: "It's unfair that x% of people make y% (for y >> x) of the money, therefore we should tax them more" for some values of x,y BlueSprite 14:37, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Okay, let's try this again, then. It ain't a matter of 'fairness', or 'punishing the Rich', it's a matter of the government needing money, and the rich folks having more of it, and often doing less work than the poor, proportionally, to obtain it. --Gulik 15:57, 8 December 2008 (EST)
So you don't think the argument in question is a good one. Alright. I was more interested in discussing it with people who do feel that way. It is clear that someone on this site does feel that way, since I've seen it posed. BlueSprite 19:21, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Then perhaps you should 1. Quote them exactly, 2. Provide a link to where they said it, and 3. Invite them to this debate? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:08, 8 December 2008 (EST)
That's just mean. The Imaginary Liberals In His Head would be SO much easier to beat in a debate! --Gulik 21:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Taxing the rich more as a percentage of income benefits the poor[edit]

This is a complex assertion that appears to be taken for granted. Why should this be the case? It doesn't seem obvious to me at all. BlueSprite 15:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Let me quote that great Socialist thinker, Ronald Reagan: "The problem isn't being poor. The problem is people not having any money."
To add: Most Liberals (and the few remaining Sane Conservatives) think deficit spending is a bad idea. Most Liberals think the government should make a token effort to keep poor people from starving to death of being forced into crime, and possibly even better their wretched lot. This costs money, which the government gets by printing is (usually a bad idea), or by taxing it. And the rich people have more money to tax. (And it won't hurt them as much. When you make $1,200 a month, having $200 taken in taxes HURTS. When you make $120,000 a month, losing $20,000 is an annoyance.)--Gulik 16:31, 2 December 2008 (EST)
If I understand you, you're saying that it's obvious that we should have social programs, therefore we should tax the rich to pay for them because it will harm poor people. Unless I've missed something, this is circular reason plus an appeal to a non-sequitor (that it's obvious that we should have social programs, which, by the way, I would challenge). Whether or not it's obvious we should have social programs, I don't think it follows that taxing everyone the same leads to poor people starving in the street. In any case, if we were to concede, for the sake of argument, that social programs are not always critical, consider two possibly not mutually exclusive approaches: 1) Spending less, 2) a single grade progressive tax, where people below a certain line do not pay.
If I'm parsing you right, only those in danger of starving in the streets, as you put it, have even been asserted to be worthy of tax relief. So why not tax everyone who isn't in danger of starving in the streets the same?
But, to summarize, your assumption is that if we eliminate a progressive tax, we have to increase taxes on the poor. That is only true if you insist on maintaining the level of spending, which is not obvious to me.
I apologize for a somewhat more convoluted response than I'd hoped, but I think everything I wanted to say is here. FYI, I find cute appeals to what some politician said in a moment of populism or lapse of judgement in order to demonstrate some clever irony about a group of thought you think I may belong to singularly unconvincing. If you find them funny, go ahead, but if you're trying to make a concise argument intended to change my mind, I would eschew them. BlueSprite 18:25, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Bluesprite, are you really saying that if you were poorer, you would not want the government to provide educational opportunities to your children in order to provide them with the same opportunities that the heirs of rich people get for free? Also, I find it sick that people can actually be close to starvation in the richest country on earth while others have more money than they or their descendants to the thousandth generation could ever possibly need. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 19:10, 2 December 2008 (EST)

If I understand your correctly, I'm sure you didn't mean that the heirs of the rich get their education for free, but rather that it is easy for them to afford the best education. The subject of public education is a rich and fascinating one, but to answer your question concisely, yes, I'm open to certain social programs. But this does not imply that "Taxing the rich more as a percentage of income benefits the poor." Or if it does, the argument is not obvious to me, and you're going to need to spell it out for me.
I think it is unfortunate that some people are close to starvation in the richest country on earth. I don't think that the wealth of some makes this any less or more a tragedy. I also don't see how this affects any particular argument. BlueSprite 19:21, 2 December 2008 (EST)
It doesn't.
It is true that rich people might not need all of their money for themselves. In that case, they probably employ an investor to invest their money in stock, bonds, or some kind of interest-bearing savings account, which then, in turn, makes its interest by investing somehow in the economy. This investment makes it possible for society to have businesses and corporations, which employ people (like me, and probably most of you). Taxing that money more heavily takes it out of the economy and gives it to the government, which has an *excellent* record using our money efficiently. (Wait...) I consider it unfortunate, as I'm sure most supporters of progressive taxes also do, that the wealthy people and corporations of the developed world don't themselves do more to try to improve the lives of others. When people have more opportunities to live well and productively, everyone benefits. OneForLogic 19:30, 2 December 2008 (EST)
And, of course, once money goes into the government, it's lost forever and never spent on anything or paid out to workers or put into agencies which for political reasons could only ever consider buying from inside the country... WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 19:32, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Obviously, all sarcasm aside, neither extreme is correct (as always). A significant percentage of the money we pay in taxes does indeed go toward programs that benefit people and the economy as a whole. A similarly significant percentage is wasted on unnecessary, mismanaged, or inefficient activities. We could argue without end as to how efficient we should expect our government to be. OneForLogic 19:42, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Worldwide inequality[edit]

Wazza brought up a potentially interesting line of thought with his disgust at the conditions of the poorest people in the richest country in the world. What about the rest of the world? If we were willing to sacrifice a whole lot of money, effort, and luxuries in the US, we could, just by sheer force of resources, prevent starvation in the rest of the world. We have more than enough food and material goods to do it. But we don't. We give a couple billion dollars a year to the governments of third-world countries we like and go on with our lives. Ideally, should we sacrifice our own quality of life to bring up the rest of the world? Practically, should we try to do it? OneForLogic 19:48, 2 December 2008 (EST)

That's a complex question. My short answer is "no." There are many reasons for this answer, but chief among them is that many those we would assist are stated enemies (Venezuela). Further many are well enough off that I don't see any reason to do it (Europe), and many are in a condition where they are doing (mostly) the right thing, in cooperation with us, to become wealthy (India, east Asia). Would donating money or physical resources do more than simply sitting back and, signing some free trade treaties (and I mean really free trade, not any particular treaty with that moniker) and getting rich together, a la china and india? I doubt it.
I do however have a great deal of respect for the way India and China deal with us: i.e. "hey US, let's trade and get rich together." BlueSprite 19:59, 2 December 2008 (EST)
I completely agree. Trade is generally good for all involved. I'm not particularly concerned with who our "stated enemies" are in a largely hypothetical line of thought like this; in the long run, we're all (meaning all humans, everywhere) going to become more connected with each other and less hostile. More trade with Venezuela might be better for both of us even in the short term. There's also the fact that new technology and new ideas are developed and spread more quickly in richer nations. We might be able to improve the world quite a bit in the short term with some massive sacrificial effort, but it would come at the cost of much slower long-term development as a species. Once one nation develops a technology, it's possible for the entire world to benefit from it (as long as the collective will to spread knowledge exists in that nation, which is an entirely separate issue). If the tech never existed, no one benefits. OneForLogic 20:11, 2 December 2008 (EST)

None of the Above[edit]

Sorry to bust the format, but none of the above reasons are especially valid ones for the progressive taxation scheme. I understand you're not trying to set up straw men, Blue Sprite, but you have chosen generally poor reasons. There is a good reason for such a tax, but it's not any of the above. I hope you don't mind if I copy-paste in my own here.

Do you know what the rich and poor have in common? They both have to eat and sleep. A certain amount of money must be spent on those things. The rich spend $35,000, and the poor spend $3,500, but those necessities must be met. The thing is, the poor spend an enormous percentage of their paychecks on those two things. In fact, virtually all of the lower class and middle class spend most of each paycheck on a place to sleep and food to eat, as well as little things like transportation and medicine. In contrast, the rich spend a much smaller fraction of their paycheck on those things. Even with extravagance, the reason there are real estate funds is because there are people with a lot of extra money to put into them. So 30% means a hell of a lot more to a poor person than a rich person, in terms of everything that matters. If I make $3,000 in a check, then 30% of my check is $900. I have $2,100 left. I spend $2,000 on eating and sleeping, and have $100 left, instead of $1,000. My quality of life has decreased enormously, and I have to pray my daughter doesn't get sick. If I make $300,000 in a check, then 30% of my check is $90,000. I have $210,000. I spend $100,000 on eating and sleeping since I like to live very well, and have $110,000 left instead of $210,000. I can't buy my second yacht. Because of these factors, all taxation should be and must be progressive. The idea is not to make taxes "fair" by some arbitrary adherence to a number. These are human lives we are talking about, and so "fair" should be determined by the weight of the burden on one's life.

Taxation should be equal, but the equality should be an equality of burden, not a simple number.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 22:24, 2 December 2008 (EST)

OK, but that really is only an argument in favor of a single grade in a tax, i.e. below X (where X is considered vital to live on), there is no tax, and above it, there is a flat percentage. Clearly it is a bad situation if you are taxing those who can barely afford to eat into not being able to eat, and this is something I'm quite willing to accept. But even this is only true of income taxes. Why not have a retail tax on non-essential goods, instead? BlueSprite 23:29, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Consumption taxes hurt economic growth far worse than income taxes, due to the relative elasticity of the two different kinds of spending. (And taxes on non-consumption spending are even worse, as they actually restrict investment in capital even more.) Researcher 23:35, 2 December 2008 (EST)
Income taxes, especially of the type in the US, often reduce to property taxes. At least, that is my understanding of things like capital gains. Not that I'm arguing with you, just trawling you for more info. BlueSprite 00:10, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Big difference. Property taxes are "You have this much, so we are taking this much money from you." These are horrible from the perspective of fairness, often, and really do reduce incentives to investment quite a bit (as well as being very regressive.) Capital gains taxes (which are very separate from income taxes, but I also support them so I'll explain) are actual taxes on money earned through investment. Instead of "you have this much, so we're taking this much," it's "you made this much off of what you own, so we're taking this much." This does (admittedly) have the issue of also reducing investment, but from a fairness standpoint (which even many economists do agree is important) it is the only way of taxing certain people who do not make a traditional income. A great example of this is Warren Buffett and his secretary. His secretary earns (say) $60,000 a year, and pays the traditional taxes on that (which I think is roughly 30%), so she pays out $18,000 a year. Without a capital gains tax, even though Warren Buffett makes multiple millions of dollars a year, because it's all (technically) capital gains, he's not paying any taxes. Even Warren Buffett finds that absurd. (The old argument for a high capital gains tax that it's "unearned income" is rather useless now, especially as people no longer just put money away in investments and never look at them again, but instead make it their whole jobs.) Researcher 09:38, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I thought it was pretty clear that I was explicitly not advocating a flat tax above a cut-off point (which would seem to be the so-called "fairtax proposal"). That is not a progressive tax, because it attempts to be fair according to the chosen number, rather than attempting to distribute the burden of taxation effectively. A progressive tax is not a flat rate, but rather a rate that increases according to the level of wealth of the taxed individual, so the wealthy are charged a higher rate.
A retail tax like a sales tax is pretty clearly not progressive, since it taxes everyone the same based on what is being purchased. Buying a sack of beans costs you an extra 7% in Florida, regardless of your level of income. It is actually worse than even just being not progressive: it's a highly regressive tax. Consider that the wealthier you are, the greater the proportion of your purchases will be commodities that are untaxed in some manner. This takes myriad and complex forms, such as charter funds or untaxed fungible commodities or the like, but the upshot is that the ephemeral nature of high finance makes it damn hard to tax. That is not really the same for the beans.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:30, 3 December 2008 (EST)

I'd agree that this is the most convincing argument in favor of progressive taxes put forward so far. Regardless of connotation ("buying another yacht" certainly reeks of "excess"; definitely a well chosen example), I consider it important for the wealthy to do things like buy yachts (and start or invest in businesses, etc.) because of the number of $3,000 checks the yacht company can write to its employees from the profit they make on that yacht. I'd rather have those yacht-building laborers earning their wages than getting government handouts (see? I can play the connotation game, too). OneForLogic 01:58, 3 December 2008 (EST)

But then, how much of their wages will be taken for a mandatory health insurance scheme, where the progressive tax could then fund a national health program, removing one burden on their wages? WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 02:01, 3 December 2008 (EST)
OneForLogic, you seem to advocate the trickle-down effect, most recently institutionalized in Reaganomics: the notion that keeping the taxes of the rich intentionally low will permit them to use services and buy goods at a higher rate and thereby trickle down their wealth to the rest of the ladder. Please let me know if I'm wrong, but that seems to be your advocacy. Is it?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 03:31, 3 December 2008 (EST)
"Reaganomics: Feeding the birds by giving the horse more oats." --Gulik 04:35, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I never proposed any mandatory health insurance. I'm honestly not sure what the best way to fund such a measure would be. Those without any insurance or other kind of healthcare plan do seem to be hit hardest by medical bills, which can become a disaster if they or a family member has a medical emergency or is diagnosed with a severe chronic condition. I do consider this a problem. And I wasn't planning to make taxes on the rich any lower than those of anyone else. Honestly, I could support a very modestly progressive tax system (say, pay a 5% higher rate on income above $200,000 per year). I do believe that taxes on long term investments (which are necessary for the economy to function) should be kept low, but I think specific types of taxes that impact people with lower incomes more, like sales taxes, should also be kept low. The highest tax rates should be on high property values; people that own millions of dollars worth of land and multiple massive houses should certainly be taxed for it. On property value taxes, specifically, I could support progressively increasing rates.
I agree that "Reganomics" wasn't really much of an idea, but that was because it was overly simplistic. Its supporters tended to ignore the importance of the different impacts of different kinds of taxes, for example. They also supported across-the-board reductions in government economic regulation without thorough consideration of the consequences. There was also the problem that Regan didn't really reduce the size of the government. OneForLogic 08:52, 3 December 2008 (EST)

The problem with taxing land and property is that some of the most valuable property is farms. My father is by no means a wealthy man (We're middle class, but I wouldn't say in the upper part thereof), but the land he inherited sold for more than 2 million dollars, and he now owns land of not quite the same value, but still more than a million dollars even taking note of the downturn in the kiwifruit industry (most of the land is kiwifruit canopy). Taxing land and such would probably hit farmers hardest, and they'd have to compensate by raising the price of food, which would in turn hit the poorest people hardest, making a land tax regressive. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 08:58, 3 December 2008 (EST)

Yeah, what in the US are referred to as "property taxes" (taxes on what you own, almost always just meaning land and sometimes cars) are horrible in that regards. Unfortunately, they're also the most stable taxes in terms of money inflow, making them very attractive for localities in the US that cannot afford to run a deficit. Researcher 09:41, 3 December 2008 (EST)
The kind of stress on farmers that you're talking about is exactly why the US has a lower tax rate for agricultural land.
Tangent: Do any of you think corporate farms and family farms should be taxed differently? OneForLogic 14:21, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Nope, all food-producers should be taxed equally, because they all produce food equally. Corporate farms are better at quantity, family farms, in my experience, are better at quality, so it all balances out. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 17:59, 3 December 2008 (EST)
That seems fair. OneForLogic 23:09, 3 December 2008 (EST)