It has become a new and bonafide pejorative. Wealthy that is, along with rich. As in tax cuts even for the wealthy. It is not a new dislike, but it is a harmful and misguided one, to not appreciate those who have money and not let them have it and spend it. It is the fuel of our economic system after all.
To be sure I am not one of them. Not a billionaire, nor a millionaire, nor one who makes the hotly bandied about $250,000 a year. Not even close. No Rolex or BMW, although those are not the metrics of wealth they once were, because capitalism works and many working people can afford either or both. That is a success story never told.
But once the tax discussion (read argument) gets past the name calling it settles in for a moral discussion on people paying “their fair share.” My elderly mother is a retired LPN, living on $19,000 a year and she pays nothing. Yes, she worked her whole life, or most of it, and other than my sister and me has little to show for it. Except of course a pretty good life in the best nation in the world, and now she pays nothing. What is her fair share?
It seems even the least able earners should pay up some ante each year. Maybe a $25 a month minimum. I think that is fair. What is fair for me? Well I pay thousands to state and federal, and TurboTax tells me how many. So I guess that is fair. But should fairness kick in with income, or with age?
I think it would be “fair” to waive taxes on all over 80. They’ve done their part. Or we could do a nice fair income formula. Let’s say I pay $30,000 a year – simply cap taxes at 10 times that. Regardless of income no one pays over $300,000. I can argue that is fair. After all, how much more national defense and roads do the rich get than me?
But “fair” will never be a settled argument and it is not really the issue either. After years of consternation and pedantry about tax plans I learned this year how wrongly I viewed it all. One phrase and I was a newly learned man. That phrase – “there is no evidence the high end tax cuts worked.” Aha! Enlightenment. Tax cuts are supposed to “work.” Now I get it.
And they are so sadly wrong. Setting tax rates should not be day trading. We shouldn’t be using tax cuts (or increases) as positions that are supposed to “work.” The very concept is obscene and destructive to our economic system.
Taxes should be set to fund the costs of the required and essential functions of government, understanding that we benefit equally from it. We all receive the same Naval services, yet not the same Medicare. That is fine.
As a wealthy and compassionate people we can add a bit to care for the elderly, wounded and infirm. Then if we want, a buck or two for reinvesting in our culture through the arts and humanities to support the philanthropy of the wealthy who exercise that privilege.
But inflicting tax increases or decreases with some strategic position of it “working” is a losers game from the get-go. Our economic system is dynamic, and our tax system must be static – set them and leave them be. That will allow those who know how to make money to do so, and it is the making of money that provides for the paying of taxes, and yes, not just “even” but especially for the wealthy.