Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Goal vs Means

A couple of thought experiments:

Pretend for a moment that incontrovertible proof exists and has been shown to you that the US and global economy will thrive and all people -- rich, poor, and middle-class alike -- will benefit under a highly progressive income tax system. Say, something like a 0% rate on the first $20,000 of income and gradually increasing to 80% on income over $10,000,000.  Set aside all instincts and real-world evidence you might have about this topic, and pretend that you are 100% certain that this is the optimum tax rate for economic growth, AND it will have a long-term positive effect on the wealth of every person regardless of economic or social class, AND it will maximize tax revenue.

Poll #1763592 mobile-poll

If you KNEW that a highly progressive tax system would be optimal for the long-term economic well-being for all people would you favor it?

Yes, if it'll help everyone economically
No, there are non-economic reasons that are too important to allow me to support a highly progressive system.

Part two:

Assume the same level of incontrovertible evidence exists to support a flat tax of 17% across all income: whether you make $100 or $1,000,000, you'd pay 17% of it in taxes. As above, you pretend you are positive this tax system would maximize economic growth, economic well-being for all people of all classes, and federal revenue.

Poll #1763593 mobile-poll

If you knew that a flat tax would benefit people of all economic classes, would you support it?

Yes, if it benefits everyone
No, there are non-economic reasons to oppose flat taxes that are too important for me to support one

If you answered 'no' to either question, I would be very happy to hear your reasons.

I know that these scenarios are ridiculous; I am not 100% convinced about pretty much anything in my life.  But I am curious if anyone finds the non-economic reasons for these things (and ones certainly exist!) to be compelling even in the absence of economic benefit.  I tend to look at reasons like "high taxes on the rich are akin to stealing and therefore wrong" or "the rich benefit most from social order and therefore should pay more" as less 'sufficient justification by themselves' than as an explanation of why one system or the other would be better from a total economic perspective. I am curious whether or not others feel the same way.

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