Since when is it anyone’s business how much money someone else makes?
This question comes after several days of presidential candidates sparring over the release of their income tax returns. The target, mostly, is bajillionaire Mitt Romney, because the other Republican candidates are such anti-capitalists.
Wait; that isn’t exactly right. They just oppose any capitalist who isn’t supporting them with his or her money. Such money given to them, of course, is clean and pure; it’s all the other money in politics that’s dirty.
Back to the question: Since when is it anyone’s business how much money someone else makes?
I’d love to have been around when the income tax was created to hear the rationale for why citizens of a free country should have to report to the government how much money they make.
If you’re a public employee, it’s everyone’s business; your pay comes from the public.
Privately earned money, however, should be private. Why should anyone have to tell the government how much money they earn?
There are many arguments for a consumption tax, such as the “FairTax.” One is that the level of taxation is based on spending; if you don’t want to pay the tax, don’t spend the money.
Our current system is just the opposite. Imagine going to McDonald’s, and the cost of your Egg McMuffin is based on your tax return – even if you and the millionaire in front of you, and the Walmart greeter behind you, all get the same sandwich.
Some also like a “flat tax,” an income tax in which everyone pays the same rate. But whether it’s 10 percent of a millionaire’s income or 10 percent of a Walmart greeter’s income, you still have to tell the government how much money you make before it sends you a bill.
Logically, the fairest tax is a dues system. If I join, say, a health club, they’ll charge me the same thing as the millionaire or the Walmart greeter, and we’ll both have access to exactly the same facilities. Why not tax us the same way?
“But what about poor people!” advocates for poor people whine. “It will cost a greater share of their income to pay than it would for that millionaire!” Yes, it will. That’s a great incentive to work harder and not be poor anymore, isn’t it? Isn’t that the essence of capitalism?
Besides; both the poor man and the rich man get the same access to the same public services (and the poor actually use them more). Why should the rich man pay more? “From each according to his means” sounds an awful lot like Karl Marx to me, comrade.
Yet because we’re such a generous, magnanimous country, I’m sure citizens would be willing to compromise – foregoing a dues system by instead paying for services as you use them by way of a consumption tax. That way, if you spend less, you pay less in taxes, and if you spend more, you pay more. Sounds fair to me.
If Romney had been smarter, when his opponents started beating on him this past week about releasing his income tax returns, he would have spoken in favor of freedom. “What I make is none of your business, and none of Uncle Sam’s business,” he should have said. “And when I’m elected I’m going to work to change our tax system to one that tells the government to stay out of your business.”
It’s already out of his, though. He paid a lot lower percentage of his income last year than I did, and I bet he can buy an Egg McMuffin whenever he wants. And you know what? It’s none of my or Uncle Sam’s business.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/