Hello All- I'm PeteG, who put together the Fairsharetaxes website that generated this discussion.
I enjoyed reading the discussion and am opened to critiques and suggestions as my fair share tax proposal is a work in progress. If you think it's thought provoking, send the link along to friends who might be interested. That said I'd like to respond to some of the discussion:
Re: "punishing the rich""Robin Hood""Marx" Not at all. My aim is to have everyone pay their fair share. I think our tax system should be progressive but as you can see from my home page, even a flat tax would be a step in the right direction. Warren Buffett and fellow billionaires pay less than 1% of their income and other investment gains. a single minimum wage worker making $14,500 a year pays 22% of her wages in total taxes, and no she does not qualify for the EIC or food stamps. The problem is that most investment gains are never taxed and others are taxed at much lower rates than work. And please note that my calculations include all taxes - federal, state and local.
Although our federal and state income taxes are somewhat progressive; the payroll tax, any sales or consumption tax, property taxes are regressive on income and wealth, the 2 best measures of ability to pay and the extent to which a household has profited from the financial infrastructure governments(ie all taxpayers) provide. Buffett himself says his taxes are too low and that he would have gotten nowhere without public education (of workers of the companies he invests in), antipoverty programs (Social Seecurity creates consumers), roads (for carrying commerce), the military (enough international peace to carry on trade and keep the oil flowing) etc. etc.
I don't think everyone should have the same income or wealth but I also don't think - and over 90% of Republicans, Democrats, rich and poor (in a recent study) don't think - the top 20% should own 85% of the nation's wealth - as they do now in the US. Those 90% surveyed chose an ideal wealth distribution that is like Sweden's - where the top 20% own 35% of the wealth. Further, studies also show that developed nations with wealth distribution like Sweden do have better health, graduation rate, crime rates, mental health, substance abuse rates, teenage pregnancy rates, social cohesion... throughout society.
The preferred tax rates for wealthy investors was put in place by anti-capitalist GOP who tried to manipulate the market to encourage investment. This market distortion means that too many investment dollars chase too few worthy investments...prices rise artificially...investment bubble ... the relatively over-taxed working middle class can't consume enough ... market crash and recession ... all but the wealthiest lose their jobs, homes, and/or retirement savings. In the 30 years Reagan starting (and Clinton/BushII enhanced) reduced taxes for investors (the wealthy), the top 1% has gone from owning 22 to 44% of the nation's wealth and the average GDP has dropped to just 75% of what it was for the 30 years prior.
Re "all those that don't pay any taxes", here is what I say in the website: "Reducing taxes on the middle class? We also often hear that half of American households pay "no taxes." This sound-bite is simply wrong. About half of households pay no federal income taxes. There is probably no non-institutionalized adult in the USA who truly pays no taxes - no Social Security taxes, no sales taxes, no property taxes, no gas taxes. These regressive taxes shift the total tax burden to the middle class. Consider all the taxes paid by a single home health aide earning minimum wage for full-time work, $14,500 per year. She pays over $3000 in total taxes, 22% of her wages in all. Her taxes include $2400 in federal income and payroll taxes... The group paying no federal income taxes consists of mostly the elderly and disabled living on Social Security, those laid off in the current recession, students with part-time work, and large families earning very low wages. Nearly all of these groups pay other taxes, often exceeding their fair share compared to 1) their ability to pay and 2) their wealth derived from economic infrastructure provided by governments. The proposed tax system sets things right by considering all taxes and both measures of ability to pay: income and wealth."
In sum, I don't want to punish the rich (most would consider me among them and yes I am under-taxed and no my sending in an extra check to the Treasury won't fix the economy or anything), I want those rich people who insist on using the tax system to punish the middle class, our economy, our nation to cut it out and pay their Fair Share.
(Sorry wanted to add some links of the studies I cite, but Beemaster's antispam software made all sorts of threats.)