Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tax the poor!

Why have we been hearing this line so much lately, about how half the country doesn't pay any income tax?  (There's a great collection of these quotes on the Smartypants blog.)  I guess in some people's minds, this seemingly outrageous fact proves that we shouldn't be talking so much about taxing the rich. Instead, we should be talking about taxing the poor. Leave it to Jon Stewart to do the math, showing exactly how much we could raise by taxing the bottom 50% of earners in this country--who own a whopping 2.5% of all the wealth in America.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare - The Poor's Free Ride Is Over
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This might be as good a test as any of whether you are a conservative or a liberal: If someone tells you that 50% of the country pays no income tax, are you outraged that these freeloaders are not contributing any income tax to the federal coffers? (putting aside the fact that they are probably paying some payroll taxes and sales taxes and excise taxes) Or are you outraged that half the country has an income so low that the federal government has not deemed it worth taxing?


  1. Oh my yes, that is the perfect test!

    And Stewart so perfectly nailed the whole issue. I don't know that I've heard anyone lay it out more clearly.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Smartypants. You reminded me that you were the one who also did a great post of this issue recently. I have added a link to your site.

    When my kids were about 2 or 3 years old, I trained them to answer the question, "what is the difference between Republicans and Democrats?" The answer was that Republicans want to take from the poor and give to the rich, and Democrats want to take from the rich and give to the poor. I wish I had a video of them responding to that question. It was cute.

  3. Oh my ... that Jon Stewart clip should be mandatory viewing :-)

  4. Artfully handled question. The Federal Government, of course, sets the standards as to who meets the qualifications of paying taxes, doesn't it?

    I can't say as though I agree with what you taught your daughters so say. When people are given handouts they tend to become dependent upon them and look for more rather than trying to create things on their own.

  5. It sounds like you do agree with my formulation, Harrison. You are just trying to justify the conservative position. I understand the conservative argument against what they call the re-distribution of wealth, just like I understand the liberal argument that the government should do more to help people who are disadvantaged. It sounds to me like you are just agreeing with the conservative position that we should take away more of what you are calling "hand-outs" to poor people, and at the same time you also think we should be careful about increasing taxes on the wealthy. And I also understand that you believe that if the government does less for poor people, they will somehow learn to do more for themselves.

    But I can't call myself a conservative, because I find it hard to understand the argument that the main problem we have in this country is that poor people already have too much and rich people do not have enough.

  6. I was hoping you were kidding Joe. Your latest post doesn't sound like it. I am saddened by that. However, Stewart is still funny!

    It is a fact that people who want the poor to pay federal income taxes would probably identify themselves as conservatives -- but -- not all conservatives are calling for the poor to pay federal income taxes or think folks receiving benefits are freeloaders. C'mon!

    The far left and far right are a small minority in this country. Yet they make most of the noise. Their major impact is political gridloack with stomach aches mixed in.