28 January 2009

To: White House and Congress Re: Economic Policy and Tax Cuts

Dear Members of the Obama Administration and Congress,

We are Worth MoreInstead of tax cuts and consequential cuts to social and public services, and infrastructure, it would make the most sense, in these difficult times, to put into effect a net tax increase. That's right: a net tax increase. While I support lifting the tax burden on those whom, in the lower income regions, are least able to pay—it makes imminent sense to increase overall taxation, by increasing taxation on the wealthiest Americans (and American businesses) —those whom are most able to pay into public and social support infrastructure. This would directly increase societal equity and equitableness.

America's wealthiest people already benefit most from public infrastructure, so it makes sense to tax them proportionally, to let them pay for it. Most of those with the greatest quantities of financial treasure and material possessions would not have what they do without public infrastructure. Their wealth depends on the acquiescence of the public.

In other words: Tax the rich. Yes, we can! This is the sort of change I believe in. I also want to point you in the direction of two articles, 1) is recommendations for increasing revenue (to pay for economic recovery) from the Institute for Policy Studies, and 2) is an article by Jim Kunstler about the problems inherent in the growth based economic model.

1) IPS Plan to Pay for Recovery

2) Change You Won't Believe by Jim Kunstler

Berd Whitlock

p.s. Please consider the idea of a "Salary Cap" (or income cap, or capital gains cap.) Think of it like this: 1) Set an amount of money that is the maximum allowable for an individual (or household) to reap. 2) Make it so any amount of income, or capital gain, over that amount would be taxed at a certain very high level, i.e. 90% or 100%.


  1. Uh uh. I'm all in favor of proportionate taxing, but imposing some sort of "salary cap" on rich people strikes me as unjust.

    I'm really curious why you think a person shouldn't be able to keep as much money as they earn, less reasonable taxes?

    Didn't they try this redistribution scheme in Russia once?

  2. Ah, yes. The reason for this is salary cap is that all too often, though there are exceptions, people who reap exceptional amounts of financial profits are engaged in activities that are decidedly harmful.

    Besides, who needs $12 million a year. Especially when there are poor people dying for lack of proper nutrition, shelter and health care: it is unjust for people to take so much. It is unjust for some to take so much when so many have so little - indeed when so many do not have enough to meet their basic needs.

    The salary cap is designed precisely to ameliorate the injustice of the few taking from the many.

    Call it a Robin Hood tax. Call it stealing if you want. But what it really is - is an attempt at equitable redistribution of wealth.

    Too often people are making money from harmful economic activities. This salary cap might just be one way to seek justice and begin an effort to curtail those harmful takings.

  3. Your salary cap will simply stifle business. Remember at one time there was a tax up to 90% in this country, and it did nothing to alleviate the social ills you describe. In fact some blame the high taxes for helping cause the Depression to spiral deeper out of control.

    I believe a person is entitled to whatever they can earn. With great success also comes great responsibility. The failure is not in the wealthy obtaining wealth, but failing to be accountable for what they have. IIRC Jesus said something about that.

    That said one cannot legislate responsibility. The free market can however compel irresponsible companies to be responsible. That only works though if you have a responsible society. It's a catch 22. Meanwhile it still boils down to not being able to legislate social justice. That must come from the people.

  4. Steve, I am not sure what you're talking about when you refer to a time when taxes were at 90%.

    And as far as high taxation contributing to the depression - it was just the opposite.

    The "Great Depression" was caused by a virtually complete lack of regulation for several years prior to the event. Major financial institutions were operating footloose and fancy free, doling massive salaries upon the upper executives, doing a minimum of accounting. It was willy nilly. It was out of control.

    It was the intensely de-regulated market, which included a lack of reasonable taxation schemes, that most directly led to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing severe economic recession.

  5. Here is a timeline of tax rates for you http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/TaxTimeline.htm

    Also here is a great read about tax rates and the economy. http://www.heritage.org/research/taxes/wm327.cfm

  6. Cheap publicity for ya...

  7. I wonder what would be the incentive for a person to achieve more than his/her salary cap?

    Would such cap be an arbitrary dollar amount country wide? After all a dollar goes a bit farther in Kansas City than New York City...

    This fairness of which you speak... whom is the decider of what makes fair? Would this be an electable position or merely an appointee of another elected official?

    The family of the people with their income capped, why must they suffer loss of opportunity for the loss of income that may enable the mother to stay home with the children, or the children to not be forced into substandard public schooling... this fairness you speak of, does it take into account local demographics or will the hope be that when all income is equal all will be equal instantly like the flipping of the preverbal light switch.

    I suppose as antiquated this idea may be, it's better to let people earn what they work for, because the idea the all rich people are somehow doing harm or corrupt to be a dangerous fallacy. Almost as dangerous as believing the Gov't could somehow fix everything for they know better what's good for the people...

  8. The premise of this idea is that material / financial wealth is ultimately illusory, and that real wealth exists in the field of relationships with each other. Real wealth is in community, and in loving and respectful relationships.

    What would be the need for a person to achieve more financial income than a salary cap would allow?

    Is the reaping of financial profit really that profound of an achievement? Too often those who reap the most impressive financial fortunes are engaged in dominating and harmful behaviors.

    As far as geographic discrepancy in terms of the value of the dollar, this is a free country. We all have a choice to live where we will.

    Let's take an arbitrary amount to propose as a salary cap as a starting point for discussion. Let's say the salary cap should be agreed upon to be set at $1,000,000 (although I personally prefer an amount more in the range of $100,000 to $300,000.) Let's not talk about capital gains caps for now. Just about salary income cap.

    Is $1,000,000 enough?

    The problem when people make so much money, in an unrestricted fashion, is that there is the temptation to engage in harmful and destructive activities - so long as there is the potential to expand the financial profit-making potential.

    No family will suffer when income is capped at $1,000,000 - or even a much lesser amount. What is suffering? The lack of ability to travel to distant reaches of the globe for vacation, even while billions of people go without access to necessary food and shelter?

    What is suffering? Limiting one persons income? Or the harmful economic realities of growth amidst resource scarcity, where wars are being fought over control of mineral resources?

    Suffering is caused by a culture of conquest. Suffering is caused when people view each other as markets for making money, Suffering is caused when people view each other as obstacles to personal gain.

    We are social animals, we humans. We need to look beyond national borders and racial/ethnic/religious/sexual differences to understand that we are one big human family, and that an injury to one is an injury to all. There is potential for a peaceful and harmonious existence between humanity and the planet, and human beings and other human beings.

    We can all get along without hurting each other. It's really possible.

  9. What you speak of demands a complete overhaul of human thinking since the dawn of man.

    One can limit the harmful activities "corporations" do by direct consumer pressure. Sadly most people don't give a rip.

    You are looking at this backwards, and if I may be forgiven for a meme, in a rather communist fashion. Instead of blaming the rich, and the "evils" they cause, blame the society that allows this to continued unchecked. All power flows from the people, and things will go unchanged as long as most people are content.

    Get people thinking responsibly, all else will fall into place without the need for government interference.