Why Tax The Rich?

Worried about the deficit? Scott Adams has some suggestions:

In the television industry .. I learned a technique that writers use. It’s called “the bad version.” When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can’t yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version. … With that technique in mind, I will describe some bad versions of how society might go about the job of convincing the rich to accept higher taxes on themselves. …

Anyone who pays taxes at a rate above some set amount gets to use the car pool lane without a passenger. Or perhaps the rich are allowed to park in handicapped-only spaces. … Gratitude. … The government makes it a condition that anyone applying for social services has to write a personal thank-you note to a nearby rich person who, according to a central database, hasn’t lately received one. … Give the rich two votes apiece in any election. (more)

Why do we tax the rich?  If it is just because the rich have lots of money, and we need more money, then we should be pretty eager to take up something like Scott’s suggestions. Such policies could help us get lots more money at a relatively low cost to ourselves. But if we tax the rich more to lower the status of the rich, so they don’t loom as high above us, we are more likely to dislike Scott’s suggestions. Yes such policies lower the income status of the rich, but they might more than compensate via other very visible status markers.

Seems pretty clear most folks hate Scott’s suggestions.  Making status motives a better explanation that revenue motives.  Are you ok with admitting that?

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  • donK

    I would agree that status motives greatly influence tax policy but in a more nuanced way than the dichotomy presented. According to the IRS 70% of Americans report an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000. Clearly most Americans are not by any means rich yet there is resistance to taxing individuals making more than twice what nearly three quarters of the population actually makes. As innumerate as Americans are I think the Dunning-Kruger effect may play a large part. If people see themselves as “rich” they will resist taxing the “rich” even though they are relatively poor.

    • Jayson Virissimo

      According to the IRS 70% of Americans report an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000. Clearly, most Americans are not by any means rich…

      It isn’t “clear” to me that a $60,000 a year income isn’t rich. Am I the only one?

      • Brian

        And furthermore how many Americans are under the age of 30 or over the age of 65? For sake of simplicity, let’s assume a negligible number of them earn >$60,000.

        I’m a 26 year old PhD student getting a paltry stipend. I’m resistant to taxing individuals that make more than me because I don’t plan on living on a university stipend indefinitely.

        My 60 year old parents are resistant to taxing individuals that make more than them because they would like their 26 year old son to make a lot of money and take care of them next decade.

      • Kevin

        It isn’t clear to you that $60,000 a year is not rich? What part of America do you live? My wife, daughter, and I live in a moderate cost of living area of the United States and make slightly more than the above income and I can tell you it is in no way rich. We live comfortably, enough but only because we are not extravagent about our expenses. Still living in an apartment, only one car, haven’t taken a vacation outside of visiting family in years. So I can tell you that from my experience in talking to those about what would be considered a “rich” lifestyle, we are not living it.

    • Noumenon

      According to the IRS 70% of Americans report an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000.

      I think that’s 70% of households, so the individual Americans at that level probably make less than $45,000.

    • Pole

      By the standards of the republic of Poland most Americans ARE rich.

  • anon

    “Anyone who pays taxes at a rate above some set amount gets to use the car pool lane without a passenger. Or perhaps the rich are allowed to park in handicapped-only spaces.”

    Don’t we do this already? People who wish to park in handicapped spaces or use the car pooling lane must pay a special tax, which we call a fine, and the revenue from fines is used to finance local governments.

    Yes, people might want to buy such rights at a flat rate, rather than paying per-use. But this would be inefficient. Instead, enforcing high prices at the margin enables efficient breach, while still preserving the resources (parking spaces and HOV lanes) for their regulatory use.

    • http://twitter.com/afoolswisdom sark

      Being fined is a status hit.

    • Kevin Nicholas

      You can also get towed if you park in a handicapped space or stopped by the police for speeding, which is inconvenient and embarrassing enough to really reduce the advantage.

    • JL

      You have the right idea, except use licences instead of fines.

      It would be more efficient to (a) just increase taxation without giving the rich extra privileges, while (b) auctioning extra privileges to the highest bidders.

      So auction, say, 1000 licences to park in handicapped spaces to those willing to bid the most.

      BTW, I hate these status accusations. It’s the same “politics of envy” accusation the libertarians like to make.

      • Jerry Mitchell

        “BTW, I hate these status accusations. It’s the same “politics of envy” accusation the libertarians like to make.”

        Well, there’s 2 possibilities.
        1. The libertarians are right, and you just dont want to accept it because it would mean your petty — just like every other human on the planet or…
        2. Your right and the real motives are not based on envy.

        Given were talking about humans here and the power of envy to drive people’s opinions, Id say it’s a safe bet most of these issues are envy based. People need a reason to own up to the fact other’s have more in general. The easiest way to stomach it is to say they are evil and must have come apon their wealth via ill gotten gains. Obviously if honest hard work created wealth – us “good” guys would be rich too right? 😉

      • JL

        That’s not the reason I hate the accusations, it’s because motives are irrelevant.

        E.g. Scientists are often motivated by a desire to prove how smart they are (status). So what? As long as they deliver the goods…

        And perhaps Keynesians and Socialists are driven by envy.
        Again, so what? If their (porposed) policies work, we should adopt them.

        Debates among self-confessed utilitarians on whether we should increase taxes on the rich should be framed entirely in terms of whether doing so will increase total utility.

        Accusing the other side of being motivated by envy is both an ad hominem and a red herring, and reveals the accuser of being something else than a utilitarian, perhaps a free market fundamentalist.

  • static

    “Clearly most Americans are not by any means rich”
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/the-haves-and-the-have-nots/

    • Pole

      Great article – and how in this context can most people continue to tell their narratives about their own virtues being rewarded when your life output is predetermined mostly by your location?

      Continuing the thought – the status and general competition especially in poorer countries is very funny where people differentiate themselves by some percentage of earnings only so that the best (and most predatory) ones can after many years get as rich as the poorest Americans.

  • Oligopsony

    Here’s a possibility: people in high tax brackets get to live in nicer homes, drive nicer cars, worry much less about some but not all kinds of catastrophic events, and so on. Of course this is a lot more expensive to implement than giving them preferential parking – or, e.g., special stores, medals, &c. – but it’s probably more of a spur, too. Tradeoffs in everything.

    I’m very happy to say that value leveling in itself (or at least independent of revenue-raising.) But I don’t believe that this explains existing tax structures. For one, it doesn’t seem that it actually rearranges status, except in a very incidental sense – e.g., a higher level of public investment will benefit some industries at the expense of others, some people will loophole themselves into lower tax brackets than others of an equivalent income, &c. When we’re impolite enough to mention someone’s income, we usually say what they report to the IRS rather than what they take home. Socialists explicitly attacking the status differentials in capitalist society have traditionally focused more on power over the production process than on differential consumption rights, but the latter forms the basis of progressive taxation while the state has, in the main, refrained from the former. (There were of course laws passed governing how one can treat one’s employees, but these primarily seem to be of a “consumptiony” nature – laws against dangerous conditions, and so on – rather than of a statusy nature. Laws against sexual harassment and allowing unions in the first place would be the exception here.)

    We also don’t try to tax other forms of status. Now you could say that left political views, defined as the combination of hostility towards the rich and a lack of anti-intellectualism, are prevalent among academics because it serves as a way of attacking economic status without attacking intellectual status. (You could also throw more purely social forms of status in there, linking support for promiscuity with the correlation between political liberalism, a wide circle of friends, and youth.) Likewise for other combinations of status types and political views, which seem to be broadly coherent – there’s surely something to this. This doesn’t explain, though, why the variance in American political views can mostly be explained by one eigenvector – the left-right spectrum – while forms of status are both diverse and positively correlated (since you can leverage them to gain the others.)

  • http://silasx.blogspot.com Silas Barta

    The problem in getting the rich to pay high taxes is not that they don’t (in direct exchange) get enough benefit from paying such taxes; it’s that they are much more capable of arranging their lives so as to legally minimize their taxable income (and illegally, too).

    So let’s say the rich would gladly pay a 90% on their true total consumption (TTC) if it got them all those benefits. They still wouldn’t pay 90% on TTC, because they would just arrange for 5% of their consumption (or income, or wealth, or whatever the tax target is) to take place in the country that has that tax. You haven’t increased tax revenues from the rich, because you’ve scared their income / consumption / wealth into other countries. Instead they get all those benefits and *still* pay a low TTC tax rate.

    Certainly, developed countries (and developed regions of developing countries) could all conspire to have the same rate, cutting off this strategy, but it’s too hard to get such cooperation — someone will want to be their tax haven, which is why in practice taxes on the rich aren’t much higher.

    At least, the benefit formula couldn’t be, “if you pay this tax rate, you get this privilege”; it would have to be “if you (whoever you are) pay $X1, you get benefit B1” — at which point it’s just selling on a market, and the government could just sell the rights to sell such benefits to a third party more adept at this.

    • komponisto

      They still wouldn’t pay 90% on TTC, because they would just arrange for 5% of their consumption (or income, or wealth, or whatever the tax target is) to take place in the country that has that tax

      Unless that country happens to have adopted a Berlin-Wall-style-“you-can’t-leave” policy of taxing income earned in other countries (even by former citizens!) — like, say, the United States.

      (Seriously, if you ever need proof that “freedom” is far lower on the human value list than extracting money from the rich –or, as Robin suggests, just plain sticking it to them — look no further than this.)

      • http://silasx.blogspot.com Silas Barta

        You saw when I asked about that on LW recently?

  • http://gworley3.blogspot.com/ Gordon Worley

    Yes, Robin, you are probably right, but I also wouldn’t underestimate the desire politicians to stick their hands in the cookie jar of the rich to fund public projects.

    Thinking of alternatives, politically it’s important to tax everyone or they might forget that government has to be paid for, but I can imagine an interesting tax system formed like this. First, require all people to pay some small percentage of their income as tax at a flat rate, with exemptions for the absolute poorest. Let’s say we put it at 5%, which is well below what anyone pays today. Then, rather than tax the rest of income outright, tax all unspent income (that is, saved, not even invested, just sitting in a regular, insured bank account). This would force the rich to either hand over their money to the government or “spend” it, be that actual consumer spending, investment, donations, or something else. We could of course have some minimum amount you’d have to save before getting taxed, say $10,000, but after that we could tax it at a high rate (say 80%) to really push the rich to keep their money active.

    Of course, the real question here is, would this do anything? I don’t know if the rich actually save enough income that is put into safe places to be worth taxing like this. But if they do, I can see a good side effect here of encouraging the rich to be more invested in the economy and thus more at risk from economic collapse, thus creating incentives for them to create stability in the financial system.

    • anon

      “Then, rather than tax the rest of income outright, tax all unspent income (that is, saved, not even invested, just sitting in a regular, insured bank account).”

      Most income which is saved is also invested. Banks make loans from the money sitting in their insured bank acccounts.

      “I can see a good side effect here of encouraging the rich to be more invested in the economy and thus more at risk”

      Econmic stability is mostly a coordination problem, so individual incentives are not very helpful. Where incentives would be helpful is with large institutional actors such as banks and investment funds–which is why bailouts in such circumstances can be especially pernicious.

      • nazgulnarsil

        >Banks make loans from the money sitting in their insured bank >acccounts.

        no they don’t.

  • Martin

    I love this suggestion from Dreadnought at Metafilter:
    http://www.metafilter.com/100065/How-to-Tax-the-Rich#3491802

    I quote:

    The rich get lots of tax… but they can’t complain because they get to opt out.

    “Take part in our special tax-cutting programme! For 1% off your taxes, we’ll make a kid wait for eight hours in the emergency room with a broken leg in your name. Or why not get the 5% mega tax-back plan. For that amount, each month a destitute family of doe-eyed orphans will do without breakfast for 20 days in your name. For the premium 7% off your taxes, we’ll cut short the physical therapy programme for a wounded war veteran, again in your name.

    “Each of these recipients of tax-cut-funded government cutbacks will receive a special engraved card, letting them know who’s tax cut contributed to their degradation and misery. You’ll receive a photo of your sponsored cutback recipient, and they’ll write you a special letter explaining how your tax cut affected their life.”

  • Vlad

    I see two possible arguments for progressive taxation that have nothing to do with reducing the status of the rich.

    1. Their wealth is partly due to luck. It’s a common intuition that we should not interfere with what’s the outcome of merit (or, conversely, of laziness), but that we should equalize misfortune (i.e. the lucky should help the unlucky). (Of course, from a normative point of view, evolved intuitions are not a proper guide to “justice”, but this does explain why so many people agree with the idea of taxing the rich and helping the poor.)

    2. The marginal utility of money decreases as quantity (wealth) increases. Thus, if you want to tax everybody equally in terms of their subtracted utility, you should tax the rich more. (How much more exactly depends on the size of the downward slope of the marginal utility of money as function of quantity.) Otherwise, you are disproportionately hurting the poor by inflicting a larger subjective cost on them. “Why do we tax the rich? … just because the rich have lots of money, and we need more money they subjectively care less than the poor if we take it.”

  • Thomas

    This reminds me of an article in the “post-autistic economics review” by Robert Locke about Japan. He argues that, as we value money basically as a means in order to gain status, it would actually be more efficent to allocate status more directly by a more formal societal hierarchy.

    Here is a pretty nice quote:

    “The Japanese have understood that what people are largely pursuing in the workplace is not so much money as the respect of the people around them, and therefore maintain a sophisticated – indeed, bizarrely over-elaborate to the Western eye – economy of respect in addition to the economy of money. They have understood that a large part of what money-seeking individuals really want is just to spend that money on purchasing social respect, though status display or whatever, so it is far more efficient to allocate respect directly.”

    http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue23/Locke23.htm

  • KS

    I think an alternative explanation would also be that most people hate the suggestions because they are explicitly advertised as bad ones, and that most people haven’t exercised their imagination enough to consider ideas in his categories that would actually work.

    Status motives only seem to explain why someone would object to any ideas (even arguably better ones than the ones Scott gave) coming from the Power and Gratitude categories. Concern for quality of human life could be a bigger non-starter for ideas from the Time and Shared Pain categories.

  • JasonSL

    Robin, it seems that you’d like to commensurate economic status with social status and with political status. Yes, they are interconvertible to a large degree, but a lot of the polity thinks that while the rich should be free to buy expensive cars and houses to their hearts’ content, there should be some things that money simply cannot buy. Among these are greater voting rights and explicit favors from the government. Lobbyists buying legislation is anathema not because the lobbyists happen to be employed by the rich, but because buying legislation period is repugnant to democratic ideals (although it also smacks of those who the rules of the game have most favored using their success to rejigger the rules even further in their favor).

    This explanation, coupled with the fact that most Americans, even most left-of-center Americans, don’t begrudge the rich for their fortune in and of itself, seems to be a better one than your leveling-based explanation.

    • http://twitter.com/afoolswisdom sark

      There are many ways to level the rich. You could tax them. But you could also pretend you are OK with them having their money as long as you are allowed to lower their status in some other way (you can do this simultaneously: “oh money is no big deal”). People are not very consistent, so they can do both.

  • Sigivald

    I think a whole lot of popular “tax the rich” sentiment is, plainly, ressentiment or status-striving to “take the bastards down”.

    (That and a lack of understanding that “the rich” can only be taxed so far…)

    I, however, think those suggestions would be tolerable, though they irk the ingrained American egalitarian in me (“state services – like public roads – should be provided equally or as needed” more or less sums up the inherited valuation there. This dovetails with what JasonSL said.).

    (But then again I think carpool lanes should be abolished, as they’re counterproductive status displays and/or “be seen to be doing something” results, rather than actually being effective at reducing congestion.

    Last I saw a study on the issue, they unsurprisingly increased congestion by pushing more traffic into the other lanes.)

  • Proper Dave

    That is just al dandy, but what about the disabled people, or the decongestion effects of HOV lanes, all out the window, basicly some rules don’t apply to “the rich” otherwise there will be “rich parking spaces” and “rich lanes”. I get the idea Adams see himself as “rich” and thus chafe at all the “rules”, that his richness is supposed to buy him out of, but is apparently not.

    • anon

      Scott assumes that “the rich” who would gain these privileges are a tiny minority–in this way, his proposal seems to be symbolic rather than practical. But I do agree about this; see my comment about fines, which apply at the margin of use and solve this problem.

  • cournot

    Locke’s article is quite astute on Japan but he thinks that it undermines neoliberal claims when in fact it does the opposite. By making respect so hard to obtain in the West, you force the wealthy to work for income with positive externalities for all, especially the poor. A world in which the best homes in NY or CA were allocated by dint of who your parents were would remove incentives to earn large amounts of money. This would make it fashionable (as in the 19th century) for the “nobility” to stay home rather than work. Despite the fact that some work the rich do seems unproductive, on the whole the nation is better off with the Gates’s and Buffet’s trying to earn more rather than sit still. Furthermore, the easiest way to enforce tight social ties — a la Japan — is to exclude outsiders, which has the tendency to limit innovation, growth, and the devt of new ideas.

    I sometimes feel the Left is all about recreating the Nobility of the Old Right while free riding off the benefits of classical liberalism and industrial bourgeois civilization. All the while they can pat themselves on the back as being egalitarian democrats.

    • KS

      I’m not sure what evidence there is for your claim that respect is harder to earn in the West, but I think it is somewhat irrelevant to Locke’s article. His article deals with the distribution of respect in a culture, not the overall difficulty of obtaining it. By taking ‘capital allocator’ as a common route to wealth and therefore respect out of the equation, Locke is claiming Japan has actually done a bit better than had it been left to the free market. I think he has supported the claim well.

      As for Japan’s xenophobia limiting innovation and new ideas…. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070517a1.html . By many other measures they still rank quite high.

  • burger flipper

    “Seems pretty clear most folks hate Scott’s suggestions.”

    Where do you get that from?
    I’m down with those suggestions.

  • Philo

    “Are you ok with admitting that?”

    Would doing so make me lose status?

  • Teddy

    That is pretty poorly reasoned. The incentives given as “the bad version” are not eagerly taken up, not because they are unacceptable to the “side” offering them, but because the thought of the wealthy and powerful accepting them is laughable.

    Yeah the Koch Brother’s and their associates are just looking for some sweet parking spaces and hand-written letters. Get real. How could you have arrived at the conclusion you did without taking several dizzying leaps of illogic? Well, I guess I answered my own question.

  • Anonymous

    If ~A then B
    ~A
    ——
    B

    What is the relationship between A and B such that “If ~A then B”?
    Is there any reason to believe B independent of its preference over A?

    • logic?

      Correction:

      A=Scott’s suggestions
      B=status motives
      C= priority of revenue motives

      If ~A then B
      If B then ~C
      ~A
      —–
      B AND ~C

      But why not just ~A?
      And why ‘If B then ~C’?

  • Tarkinlyon

    (first, excuse my english as I’m not a native speaking)
    You seam pretty sure that we want to tax the rich or that many people think we should. I totally disagree with you : there is no need to tax rich people if (and only if) there is no poor, no starving ones, everybody as an health insurrance and can go to school and university. Nobody wants to level down the rich, in the opposite everybody should want to level up the poor. And taxing the rich is a way to leveling up the poor. It appears to me as simple as that.

  • Kevin Nicholas

    I like Adams’ suggestions, but I think we should take them a lot further. I recommend establishing official, government-recognized, hereditary noble titles.

    The Nobles would initially buy their titles for some sum of money, and they would carry some set of privileges, like immunity from speed limits and drug laws, or rules against defamation of their character. As their noblesse oblige, they would have to pay higher rates of income, like maybe 25% on top of the top bracket.

    Since a lot of what rich people worry about is whether their kids will maintain their high-status (which is why they often bribe elite schools to accept their kids) I think many of them will buy titles. If we could sell titles to most of the 5% of richest americans, the amount raised in taxes would be huge.

  • Stuart Armstrong

    Are you ok with admitting that?

    Yep. I don’t like particularly bringing up the status of the rich in this way, and don’t mind lowering their status.

    But on the other hand, the rich have the money, and the money is much more important my feelings. So give personal thank you notes to every rich guy, with a lot of bowing and genuflecting, if that’s what it takes to get the money.

  • Rachel

    There’s actually a well known and obvious way to implement Scott Adam’s suggestion. Private charities can provide welfare instead of governments. Private charities typically finance their activities by giving high status to voluntary donors.

    • SortingHat

      And car washes!

  • http://meteuphoric.wordpress.com Katja Grace

    Scott’s suggestions are far too constrained to suggest we just want to take from the rich to lower their status without compensation. All his suggested rewards are things that people usually feel you shouldn’t be able to buy anyway, as far as I can tell. So of course most people don’t want to give them away in return for money, the more so when they feel the money should be given anyway. Your theory would be much better tested by asking if people would like those in high tax brackets to be given free flights when there are spare seats, or some other usually saleable item.

    • Dog of Justice

      Except, if the item is saleable, isn’t it pretty much strictly worse than a tax cut corresponding to the value of the gift? Gift-giving from people makes sense as signaling, but from the government? Uh…

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    Elizabeth Rigby responds at The Monkey Cage.

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    I think Scott’s analysis is correct, but the rich and the poor see it from different perspectives. The poor don’t want to tax the rich to lower the social status of the rich, but to fund the government services that are needed. The rich don’t want to keep their money for the material possessions it can purchase (many already have more material possessions than they need, want, or can use. What the rich want from their wealth is higher social status, but ever higher wealth doesn’t result in ever higher social status.

    The richer the wealthy get, the less increment there is to their social status from their incremental wealth. They are left with a type of Zeno’s paradox, where the more wealth they amass, the less status they feel they have.

    So they use their wealth to lobby and manipulate the government and taxing authority to reduce the taxes they pay in the attempt to get even more wealth. This doesn’t increase their status, in fact, it lowers it by demonstrating how desperate they are for the status they are trying to buy.

    Exemplified by Brooke Astor and Leona Helmsley

    http://www.economist.com/node/9679869?story_id=9679869

  • Luis Enrique

    I don’t particularly hate his suggestions.

    I don’t think we tax the rich to lower their status, I think we do it for revenue reasons and for some other reasons to do with ethics and the right way to organize society. You can get a “tax the rich” result out of simple models of taxation with a dumb utilitarian maximization objective, no status necessary.

    this is a very unconvincing post

  • Luis Enrique

    Scott’s share the pain idea is flat out political economy genius – it’s far easier to gain popular support for tax increases when the government is cutting spending at the same time.

  • Lord

    This reminds me of the year Bill Gates paid over $1M in taxes and received a personal letter from Reagan thanking him. This didn’t fool him and he got tax assistance the next year. While they might be flattered, I don’t think the rich are foolish enough to value it as being worthwhile.

  • Matt Young

    We tax the rich so they get involved in central government and make it minimal and efficient.

  • SortingHat

    If you go to alternate sources and word of mouth by the correct people you will find out that most of the rich people in the last couple years have pulled their stocks out of the US Market real quietly due to excessive taxes and I am not sure if it’s still going on but several higher ups in many banks had mysterious deaths attributed to suicide techniques including jumping off a building in the middle of the night but the story was all hush hush.

    It’s not just income tax they have to pay but all sorts of regulation fees that have little to no bearings to their actual business and I am not defending the rich but they will NOT innovate if they feel scared and it was the rich that spurred a lot of mega projects in America during the last 100 years.

    Sorry brainwashed folks but that’s just how it is and NO amount of good words will change that trying to rehash something using a *cool* vibe.

    Instead of America all the rich investments will now and are going to more friendlier countries which is why all the Islamic states have huge mega projects going on due to being filthy rich off of all their oil and rich investors leaving America for better hunting grounds.

    including but not limited to 300 mile per hour magnet levitation trains crossing a vast network.

    Why can they do it so fast? Because the ruling is all central and the authorites can almost do what they want while a good chunk of the people live in extreme poverty like America is about to become if it’s not already.

    China has all sorts of wonderful and funky looking cities that were built in the last couple years by slave labor with hardly anybody living in the buildings because most of the people cannot afford the extreme rent prices except those in favor of the government party line who gets bonuses and special health benefits.

    The cities look like complete ghost towns!

    China in the early 90s only the rich had cars and you’d have to have special permission to drive anywhere in an approved route but they recently have let small private business run if the individual has free time though the government can take it away at anytime.

    Regardless private enterprises as a result have boomed and the standard of living has increased for those who tow the government party line.

    There are now MORE cars in China today then all of the USA and Canada combined which the Chinese built thousands of miles worth of freeways and a lot more planned by 2030.

    China is going the wrong step actually by becoming more depending on cars.

  • SortingHat

    If I had to choose between fake capitalism and fake socialism aka communism ran by dictator governments I’d rather have fake capitalism ran by rich bankers because at leas then you’d have a chance at making a business.

    Communist you can only be approved by what you’re government leaders tell you and they will assign you jobs based on personality tests they deem is *correct* even if it’s not to you.

    In fact there is no longer a *You* as a unique individual just a collective worker that contributes to the higher ups in bureaucracy and you will just be a number in the class system so there will be a *classless* unity where there is no *Middle* or *upper* or *Left* or *right* just a stale number buried somewhere in the main computer banks.

    I will be something like worker 153876 and told to report to my station for duty for my 37.23 Yan a day and maybe free rent if I am good and don’t cause no trouble or to the *Farm*.

    Guess how much dollars that is? 🙂

  • Peter David Jones

    “Why do we tax the rich?  If it is just because the rich have lots of money, and we need more money, then we should be pretty eager to take up something like Scott’s suggestions”

    We might also be pretty eager to do what we are doing, which is to have levels of taxation set by the non rich majority, and put the rich in jail if they fail to cough up.