CV Rick wrote:
I'll note right up front that I include a lot of my beliefs in my answer, and they conflict directly with the Libertarian Dreams and Objectivist Fantasies of much of our nation right now.
There are a lot of public commons in the United States which contribute to the economic success we've enjoyed as a nation up until now. It would never be economically profitable for a company to create the national highway infrastructure or all the bridges and tunnels. It is not economically profitable to provide universal education, especially to disadvantaged or special needs children. The national forests, wildlife refuges, parks, and waterfowl breeding grounds cannot be maintained at a profit. This also includes the agencies that ensure clean air and water, worker safety, and food quality. It includes the United States military, the police agencies, and the fire departments. And so on and so on.
I'm fairly libertarian but I don't necessarily think we should do away with governmental regulatory agencies. I do however think many of the functions of government could be done better at a state level rather than a federal level.
I think there would be less waste and less corruption if the voters were closer to the laws being written. The fact that we have 535 people in Washington making rules and regulations for every single aspect of the lives of the 300,000,000 remaining people in this country is absolutely insane and a recipe for disaster.
IMO, the system needs an over haul. We don't need to get rid of governmental regulatory agencies. We need to let states decide, within the scope of the constitution, what laws/regulations they want to enforce. Some agencies, by their own nature, will of course have to function on a federal level but items like healthcare and education would qualify for state run programs in my mind.
Yes, I know this will never happen I freely admit that libertarianism is the political equivalent of plans made in a pot smoke filled van at 4 am on a Saturday night. It all sounds great in theory and rarely has any history of real world application.
But a guy can dream....
Why should the wealthy pay more in real terms and more in percentage terms than the working poor and middle classes? Because they use more of the commons. It can be justified based on use.
An average person might drive on the roads with a car or two to get groceries and take their kids to soccer games, but the owners of Walmart benefit from thousands of trucks making hundreds of trips each year on the roads in order to deliver the products and they don't have to pass on the real-world costs of building and maintaining those roads to the consumers because it's part of our commons that they're exploiting for profit on the front end and they ought to be paying something for it on the back end.
All vehicles (at least in Texas) pay for registration tags, taxes on fuel and taxes at the point of sale of the vehicle. The more trucks you have on the road = the more taxes you are paying for the privilege of having trucks on the road.
The stores are paying taxes on the profits they are making as well as property taxes depending on the size and function of their location.
All of this tax revenue goes towards paying for the roads, police, fire and so on and someone like Wal-Mart is paying (and should pay) a much larger share for the public resources they consume.
We could raise the taxes on their profits but then we will adversely affect growth within that company thereby crippling its ability to add jobs through new store locations, purchase of equipment and so on.
Lehman Brothers didn't have to pay to educate the thousands of people who helped them rig the nation's economy for economic collapse. A large percentage of them got all or part of their educations publicly and the private colleges they attended were often subsidized with public money in the form of low-interest loans and grants. Lehman got their pick of the benefits of the commons without having to pay the up front costs. In the end, they exploited the educational system more than students and families did.
I'm not catching the point here. Are we saying that companies should pay more in taxes because they hire people who have had an education subsidized by the government? On a side note, IMO, subsidized education is a problem because it creates a system, much like in healthcare, where people don't care about the costs (because someone else is paying for it) and therefore have an inflated price tag due to lack of competitive pricing.
To your point: I disagree with what you are saying. To me, the person's education is between that person and whomever gave them the money to go to school. That responsibility shouldn't get carried over to a future employer. If we made some sort of law stating that businesses would have to pay higher taxes based on student loans of new hires then we would have a situation where businesses would avoid hiring people with high student loans. The people who take out high student loans are the low and middle class. Thus, you would be screwing them indirectly.
There are huge banking and entertainment firms that have teams of lawyers and they make enormous financial gains through lawsuits. Those courts, court officers, judges and enforcement officials don't cost these firms much. Their salaries and facilities are public goods, and the average person uses the judicial branch of government infrequently, or never. It's not a profit center for the government and yet it's exploited daily by the wealthiest in the nation to exact judgements that benefit their pockets and often those judgements harm the lower class citizens.
Businesses pay court fees when using the legal system and those fees are higher based on usage. This idea of "make enormous financial gains through lawsuits" is really a blade that cuts two ways because they are also likely to make enormous financial losses through lawsuits as well.
Those are three examples and I could write a book about this topic. The conclusion is that the wealthiest are exploiting the commons disproportionately to the rest of the citizens and they should, in the end, be paying a disproportionate amount of the costs - because they couldn't have gotten where they are without the public commons.
The tax code needs to be reworked.
I'm not smart enough to do it but I can see that it desperately needs to be done when companies like GE (owns 1/2 of NBC and ironically the liberal think tank MSNBC) paid NOTHING in taxes for 2010 despite making 14.2 BILLION in profit. Also, (what should REALLY make you scratch your head) Obama appointed the GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, to serve as the chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness after 2 years of saying that the tax code needs to be reworked so everyone pays a fair share.
Washington is a corrupt town. We need to take the power from the few and give it to the many. Nothing (Obama over the last 3 years is a prime example of this) will be reformed when so few control so many.
JMO PS: (I was trying to be civil. These topics are fascinating to me and I hope no one loses their shit in this discussion. If I pissed anyone off let me give a preemptive apology: I'm sorry)