May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Nov. 5, 2008 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan 5769
Taxes: A fair share for all
We almost had a really interesting conversation about taxes in the waning days of the election. Almost.
To the surprise of few, it was discovered that Barack Obama favors something called "redistributionism." John McCain, it was discovered, opposes it which also surprised a lot of people.
To a certain extent, the outrage from folks on the right, at times including yours truly, over Obama's response to "Joe the Plumber" was overdone. It was, after all, Teddy Roosevelt McCain's hero who introduced the progressive income tax for precisely the purpose of spreading the wealth around. The maverick's campaign saddlebags are heavy with redistribution policies that redistribute wealth as well.
I still believe that redistribution for its own sake is little more than institutionalized covetousness. But that's a subject for another day. What was left out of the national tax conversation was the reality of the situation: America already redistributes its wealth. A lot of it. In fact, we're one of the most progressive countries in the world in this regard.
Now, first let me vent a peeve. Many people think "progressive" means "good," even though something can be progressive and bad, too. When economists refer to a "progressive" income tax, they merely mean a tax rate that increases as you move up the income ladder. (Right now in the U.S., the poor pay somewhere between 0 percent and 10 percent in federal income tax. The middle class pays 15 percent to 28 percent, and the highest earners pay 33 percent or 35 percent.) But most liberals also think that the income tax is "progressive" in the same sense that fair-trade coffee and weepy acoustic-guitar college music are progressive i.e. good and enlightened.
Either way, the U.S. tax code is a lot more progressive than you might think. A new study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that the United States "has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10 percent of the population." Our tax system is, in fact, the most "pro-poor," according to a Tax Foundation analysis of that study, of any developed country's save Ireland. That's right, we're more progressive than France and Sweden.
The bottom 40 percent of income earners receive more from the federal income tax system than they pay into it. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent pay 71 percent of all income tax, despite only earning 39 percent of our pretax income. Taxes on the top 1 percent constitute 40 percent of tax dollars.
Lower- and middle-income workers pay a lot in other forms of taxation, particularly regressive payroll and sales taxes. Indeed, that's one reason Obama wants to offer the middle class a tax cut. I don't like his version of it, but I think he's right that the middle class deserves some tax relief.
But what all Americans need is tax reform. Our tax code is outrageously impenetrable. And we've built a system that treats the wealthy like an inexhaustible natural resource.
Experts on economic development have long noted what they sometimes call the "oil curse." Countries with huge oil reserves become economically wealthy but democratically impoverished, because the government can fund itself without taxing the middle class. As a result, the middle class demands less accountability from government because, heck, they didn't pay for it. (No taxation, no representation.) In the process, the people become subjects rather than citizens.
Both Obama and McCain have a tendency to see villainy as an explanation for our economic woes. Obama thinks opposing tax increases is unneighborly and selfish. McCain has a long habit of denouncing Wall Street "greed."
One moral hazard of such attitudes is that the investor class will start applying its entrepreneurial skills to protecting its existing wealth from the tax collector rather than trying to create more wealth.
But the greater danger is that millions of Americans might believe that all that is keeping them from the good life is the tightfistedness of people doing better than them and a government unwilling to pry those wealthy fingers open. That's a recipe for an unhealthy political culture.
A sane tax code, under any president, would be simple, clear and direct. We're not going to give up on redistribution in the form of, say, the earned income tax credit. But it's important that the working and middle classes feel as if government spending comes out of their wallets, too. Otherwise, the line between citizen and subject is blurred and the costs of government are seen as someone else's problem.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column
Jonah Goldberg Archives
© 2006 TMS
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K