Why the Super-Rich Should Pay Super Taxes
By Paul Buchheit / commondreams.org
May 6, 2014

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, "It's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally...It's a game we play...I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game."

It's not a game for Americans who need jobs and education and public transportation and infrastructure repair. But public services continue to be cut, while the wealthiest Americans benefit the most from a government they say they don't want. They need government, but they don't want to pay for it.

Here are some reasons why the super-rich should be paying a lot more in taxes.

1. $2 of Every $5 Owned Today was Created in the Last Five Years, and Went Mostly to the Richest 10%, Mostly Untaxed

And most of it was accumulated passively, and unproductively, by just waiting out the stock market. As America's wealth increased from $47 trillion to an incredible $80.66 trillion in just five years, the richest 1% are estimated to have added an average of $5 million each to their fortunes. They pay no wealth tax, they can defer their income taxes, and they pay a reduced capital gains tax when they decide to cash in.

2. A Beggar Saving for a Hamburger will Pay More Sales Tax than the Entire Financial Trading Industry

There is no sales tax on financial transactions, no matter how speculative, and despite the fact that total trading value is many times more than the world economy. Derivatives trading was a major factor in the economic crash that depleted middle-class homeowner wealth in 2008. The trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reached $1 quadrillion in notional value in 2012 (that's a thousand trillion). Yet no sales tax is paid.

3. It's Not Possible for a Financial Person to be Worth 100,000 Teachers or Firefighters

Defenders of excessive incomes use the "meritocracy" argument. But based on merit, some of the biggest moneymakers may be among the least worthy of us. Consider hedge fund managers who profit from shortages of homes and food, pay a smaller percentage in taxes than people making thousands of times less, and have the opportunity to defer all of their taxes. Or super-wealthy stock owners, like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or the Koch brothers, who take more from society than they give, yet can make up to $10 billion in one year, enough to pay the salaries of a quarter of a million medical technicians, and all of which can be tax-deferred indefinitely.

4. Corporations Make Billions by Appropriating Public Research and Federal Assets

Google's business is based on the Internet, which started as the Defense Department's ARPANET; the National Science Foundation funded the Digital Library Initiative research at Stanford University that was adopted as the Google model; and Google Maps came from the massive geographical database of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Pfizer has thrived on government largesse, relying on basic research performed at the National Institute of Health. The company is also starting to profit from the Human Genome Project, which by one estimate will generate economic activity of about $140 for every dollar spent.

Just as our public research has been misappropriated, so has our land. The recent episode with freeloading Cliven Bundy highlighted the takeaway from the public, the sense of entitlement among the rich, and the disdain for a government that is supposed to protect the common good. Yet instead of defending the commons, our government leaders see it as a means of profit. Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity proposed to sell millions of acres of "unneeded federal land." Representative Cliff Stearns even recommended that we "sell off some of our national parks."

5. The Great Majority of Tax Breaks go to the Rich

Most of the annual $1.3 trillion in "tax expenditures" (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, and loopholes) goes to the top quintile of taxpayers. One estimate of total tax expenditures is a nearly incomprehensible $900 billion a year.

For those who believe that the wealthiest Americans already pay most of the taxes, they couldn't be more wrong. Lower-income earners pay a much higher percentage in combined state and local income, property, sales and excise taxes. When all taxes are considered, middle-income and upper-middle-income earners pay about as much as the richest 1%.

A Conservative-Inspired Summary:

Paul Ryan’s great-grandfather started a construction firm, still in operation today, which in the 1950s received government contracts to help build the Interstate Highway System. Ryan attended a public high school and a public university. Part of his tuition was paid with Social Security survivor benefits. His mother, whom he refers to as his "role model," rode public transportation every day to earn a degree at the University of Wisconsin, a public university.

We're all dependent on the government services that we too easily take for granted. The wealthiest Americans receive the greatest benefits, but they insult the rest of us by treating their tax responsibility like a game.

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 14,149 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 12,496 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 10,095 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 6,731 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 6,033 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 5,323 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 5,285 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 5,158 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 4,358 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 3,312 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Voices of Standing Rock
49 min · 3,236 views today · Short stories told by water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Part 1 - Introduction: Since mid-August 2016, thousands have set up camp near the Standing Rock Sioux...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,903 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 2,748 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 1,837 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 1,834 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
The Lessons of Standing Rock
Michael Emero · 1,692 views today · In mid-November of 2016, I was a Water Protector at Standing Rock. At first my goal was to play investigative journalist; documenting then writing about every detail for my...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 1,386 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 1,224 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,193 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Charles Eisenstein: The Two Great Stories That Give Meaning to Our Lives
6 min · 1,041 views today · What matters in life? Who are we? Every culture has answers to these questions. And the way we answer them has profound effects on the health of people and planet. This is a...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Why the Super-Rich Should Pay Super Taxes