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The terrible oppression of the wealthy

Most rich people apparently worry most about becoming “not wealthy†and having lazy children, according to a recent pole. Most rich people do not conspire in smoky coffee shops and dark basements plotting how best to relieve their terrible plight. However, a small portion of people, both rich and poor, lay awake at night tormented by the image of large sums of taxes that are being ruthlessly and without compassion being stolen from these classy people. Among them several influential individuals in the Canadian parliament. Otherwise the issue would be completely irrelevant, and it wouldn’t occur to me to write about it.

Unfortunately, money can’t buy reasonableness.

The proofs against "disproportional taxation is a discrimination of the rich †are quite simple and numerous, ranging from “least satisfying†to “most satisfying†, but all nonetheless establish in themselves the unreasonableness of the “taxes are a discrimination against the rich, born from a maliciousness on par with racism)†. We will consider two such proofs, one among the unsatisfying one’s and one among the satisfying one’s.

The first argument we shall look at is the unsatisfying proof. In essence: if it is in societies benefit to “steal†from rich people through the institution of taxes and rich people can’t do anything about it, arguing that society “should not do†what’s in its best interest, cannot really be presented as an argument to society. The proof is complete, but unsatisfying, for these taxes could still be considered “theft†from the perspective of the wealthy. It could still be considered “discrimination†; just discrimination one cannot convince society to abandon.

For all other types of discrimination are usually argued to be bad for society at large, including those doing the discrimination. If society discriminates against a minority, then it is possible that the most capable for the job will be of that minority > someone else is hired > society becomes less effective, or the wrong person is put in jail, or the idea of universal education is abandoned for it will give minorities “opportunity†, and so on and so forth. Furthermore, we have not “proved†that taxing the wealthy proportionally more is in the interest of society. All we have shown is that if it is in the best interest of society, the argument that “society should not do what’s in its best interest, but what’s in the best interest of a small group of people†certainly cannot be seriously put forward to society. And most of all this proof is unsatisfying because it does not show that the wealthy contradict themselves if they put forward this idea. We have not shown that the wealthy should be glad of a higher tax bracket if such is good for society at large. All of which we shall do in our next proof.

We begin with a bit of imagination. For the basis of the “discrimination against the rich argument†is the sentiment that if I am wealthy “I earned all my wealth myself, it’s mine, and I should be able to do what I like with it†. However the premise “I earned all my wealth myself†suggests that if the rest of society did not exist one would have the same amount of wealth as one does presently. Now, if one were a hermit and built single-handedly a castle, a high yielding gold mine, and a few high orbit satellites then one can argue that one is a sovereign nation. I for one would agree, and would attempt to form arguments delineating why a relationship of trade is superior to conquering your territory with respects to another nation; however, I’ve never come across this scenario, so we can assume that the “I gathered all this material independent from all other people on the planet†is not the argument being presented. And so, we can begin to see where our proof will lead us.

Essentially, the “discrimination†argument usually goes along the lines that no one’s property should be interfered with and one should be able to do anything one likes with one’s property, and so the only “institution†that should be upheld by society is “property rights†. Likewise, the only government body that should exist is the police force, and so everyone should pay taxes with the same proportion to their wealth as, presumably, it takes twice as much police force to keep safe twice as much wealth, generally called a “flat tax†.

The first observation that is made is that one can use one’s property in such a manner as to damage other people’s property. In which case the police force would interfere with one’s property, in the name of someone else’s property. And so the idea that “one should be able to do anything one likes with one’s property†becomes subjected to the fact that “one can do things with one’s property that interferes with the property of someone else’s†. And so the stipulation is put forward that “one should be able to do anything one likes with one’s property, insofar as it does not interfere with the property of others†. Unfortunately for the enthusiastic supporters of this proposition, this is a much stronger idea than they may be imagining.

For now, with this stipulation, society is in a position to claim that anything that is not good for the economy is an interference with everyone’s property rights. And so, "property rights" becomes synonymous with "what’s in the best interest of society", which is exactly the statement the "discrimination" side is trying to avoid.

In fact, most of the principles of “the welfare state†can be derived from the idea of property rights.

If universal health care is good for the “economy†, and the most efficient way to maintain a universal health care system is to disproportional tax the wealthy, then in the name of property rights society has a right to do so.

If pollution is bad for the economy, and the most efficient way to decrease pollution is through interference in the market (as in property), then in the name of property rights society has a right to do so.

If education in general is good for the economy, and the most efficient way to educate “in general†is part in part through a non-flat tax, then society has a right to do so.

Furthermore, the wealthy themselves have an interest in the welfare of the economy. It would do a rich person no good if they paid less taxes, but society collapsed into chaos around them. Most violent revolutions are a good example of this. And so, if it is in one’s best interest to support the efficiency of the economy, when does it become reasonable that “making society a bit more efficient†is not reasonable. And so the proof is complete.

On a personal note, the very idea of “the white panthers†is so ridiculous I almost can’t believe that I have to form arguments that attempt to prove that “society should do what’s in the best interest of society†.

“What is in the best interest of society?†is of course the meaningful question. Whether or not a flat tax is good or bad for the economy is a completely valid idea to pursue that will take further thought to resolve. What is not a valid idea is that “a non flat tax is discrimination against the wealthy†.

 


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