Friday, April 25, 2008

Taxing the Rich is not just about money

Progressive taxation is the application of progressively higher rates on higher levels of income or assets.

For the case on progressive property taxes see Jeff Smith's work at I would just add that until people understand that "property" is itself, a takings from the commons without compensation, they're unlikely to agree to give anything back to society for the privilege of excluding everybody from their fictional boundaries. The larceny is repeated every time a house is sold. The seller receives a big payment and walks away, while, all of the neighbors and citizens whose ability to use or benefit from the property were impaired, and sold, receive nothing. Like most other transactions in a capitalist economy, most of what is being sold does not belong to the seller in the first place.

But I'm writing to make a more important point.

We have to apply higher rates of income tax to higher levels of income, not only for the sake of economic justice but to reduce the incentives for a wide range of destructive and antisocial behaviors.

Corporate executives, of course, run the world today. These greedy power holders inflict *all of the harms* on the planet. Powerholders inflict all harms, through their mismanagement and mis-leading and exploitation of the common people, globally. I say, they are responsible. I say, the condition of the planet is not an accident.

We have a wonderfully effective market system and global economy that manages every damned thing to 5 nines. We have a globally integrated supply chain, and finance. This is operated by millions of MBAs, tens of millions of lawyers and accountants, and a hundred million totally obedient software people, telecoms people, and clerks. Obedient to their bosses of course, not customers as falsely portrayed in our school textbooks.

This economy is overcentralized. It is a producer-sovereign, rather than consumer sovereign. It is not operated to serve native demand, but rather, it's operated deliberately by powerholders for their particular interests.

Now, we are tired of losing this endless, complicated chess game with corporations. The common people seem to chase one policy issue after another. Most often these are not the "prime mover" issues but are only band-aids.

The "economy" works pretty well. It is extremely agile and reorganizes itself very dynamically. Don't wait for another crash like the 1930s. Look for example at 1987 and other events in which, with all their networks and computers the whole global economy digested the collapse in financial markets and rationalized them and rebooted itself in about 2 or 3 days. Like 911, hundreds of $Billions of ownership was taken by global powerholders, from other powerholders. The losers went off licking their wounds and hardly a word was ever revealed in the papers.

Well, the prime mover behind all these crazy and criminal behaviors, ranging from a military industrial complex to global environmental destruction, the destruction of the global gene pool with GMOs, etc. is the greedy few at the top. Those most cunning, long of fang, fleet of foot.

If the possibility of making more than say, $500,000 per year is removed by steep tax rates, then all these sick, tyrannical types will have to satisfy themselves running sports club franchises etc. instead of having us all worked to death in factories and killing each other in real wars.

I think you need a continuous progressive slope starting at the median income of the population (zero tax for half of the population) and with a straight line up to 100% confiscatory taxation at around ten times the median income. And it is universally agreed, on the left as well as the right, that when tax rates get really high, there is a disincentive to "work". This is exactly the goal of progressive taxation. We don't want the insatiable, the greedy, doing that kind of "work", which is really theft.

One of the systemic problems in WA is the continual in-migration of high income and high-wealth individuals.

It undermines our society. You can only absorb so many of that kind of person before they start taking over the whole state by their power to buy elections, and dismantling schools and social services, turning the state into a Florida, which is a great place for owning a yacht, but sheer hell for everybody else.

This is the same thing we see in national politics: the ultra-wealthy, intent on nothing other than tax cuts, support Bush and Cheney, regardless of any other consequences... such as the Iraq war. In fact, they promote war ideology that they don't even believe, just to keep Bush in office, just to get the tax cuts.

Ron Sims' effort to raise an income tax in the State of Washington was a campaign which could win, in the future, with proper voter education. And at one fell swoop, chase away a lot of billionnaires and their lobbying, and protect social services for the long term.

We don't need government to guide and enable business. We have a market economy for that.

The function of government is to meet human needs and goals of society that markets leave unmet.

Caring for the sick and the elderly, educating the young, maintaining all things of the commons, the roads, law and order-- all these sorts of things. Will private enterprise handle these? No. Will charity handle them? That's a myth. The poor, the sick, mentally ill, were lucky to find a basement or barn or a crust of bread.

When business boosters show up in the congress or legislature, or the winners of great fortunes in the marketplace not wanting to pay taxes, wanting to dismantle social services they're dismantling the very purpose of having a government in the first place. A government does not exist to protect the privileges of the wealthy, to the contrary that has been done all too well by "the private sector."

No comments: