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three cheers for neoliberal beer...,
awaken mustakrakish, the lake troll, awaken, awaken, awaken:
Apparently Warren Buffet said something about his taxes being too low for the 50 billionth time and now everybody suddenly cares, one way or the other.
Ten years ago Bill Gates Sr. got 120 millionaires to sign his petition opposing the Bush estate tax cuts and their creation of an even worse idle aristocracy than we already have: Buffet refused to sign because it didn't go far enough.
In 2003 he complained that his property taxes were too low in California, and that the dividend tax cuts were unfair and regressive.
"If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning," he said in 2004, complaining that effective corporate rates were too low.
In 2006 people stopped talking about how Buffet should just give more money to the government if he likes taxes so much and instead blathered on about Buffet's gift of much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation. "Isn't that nice," everybody nodded in agreement, "rich people are so awesome."
In 2007 he complained that his employees were paying twice the effective tax rates that he and his fellow billionaires do, and it is, finally, that complaint that struck at the heart of our nonsensical, indefensible tax structure.
Many people support a flat tax, calling it a "fair tax". You can ignore the original and subsequent arguments for the progressive taxation of privilege and rents. You can go ahead and ignore the thoughts of the more liberal founding fathers who need not be quoted. You can ignore the more conservative founding fathers, of whom you may need some reminding. You can ignore that the primary expense of the state is, one way or another, the protection of property, and that those who have benefited most by that protection, and likewise have the most to lose, should pay some greater share in return for its favors. You can ignore the uncontroversial economic fact of the decreasing marginal utility of every dollar of income, and that to tax a fair share of the last dollar requires a higher proportional levy than that on the first.
But nobody comes out and openly supports regressive taxation, because such a policy is morally and ethically and politically depraved, worse itself than the original sin of taxing anybody at all.
And what Warren Buffet has been complaining about for years is that we have had, for a long time, a regressive tax system, justified in its existence only by the fallacy of argumentum ad accountum, in which the middle and upper classes pay higher effective rates than the kleptocratic class of the uber-rich, who barely pay the effective tax rate of a janitor earning a little over the federal poverty line.
Reading the commentary on this recent complaint you'd think people just woke up at the bottom of a swamp, unable to fathom the fact that we have an incredibly regressive tax system that robs everybody and gives to the incredibly wealthy, making them incredibly wealthier.