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Stupid Tax Debate

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By Ben Cohen

This post on Andrew Sullivan's blog had me scratching my head. The basic gist of it is that the top earners in American pay more in tax than the poorest, so therefore the poorest must pay more tax. Sullivan quotes Ari Fleischer saying:

In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share

was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8%

of the nation's income.

Sullivan then quotes two more people who agree with his position, using the somewhat bizarre argument that because rich people are losing their money, poor people should pay more. I love Andrew Sullivan, but his infuriating ignorance on economic issues really lets him down. Wealth disparity in America is the most extreme anywhere in the industrialized world, with a minute proportion of the population owning vast amounts of the wealth.

In 2001, 1% controlled 33.4% of the wealth, while 80% owned 15.5% of the wealth, a statistic Fleischer of course omits. This would stand his figures on their head, proving that the poorest pay proportionally far more of their income than the rich. It is true that the rich are now being forced to cough up more (about what they were paying under Bill Clinton), but given the trillions of dollars they accumulated over the Bush years in tax cuts, they can hardly complain. These silly arguments over 'wealth distribution' are a penchant of the rich and powerful, who love to claim government is curtailing their freedom by forcing them to pay their fair share of taxes. They come up with a lot of statistics to prove that the rich pay most of the taxes, yet fail to talk about massive income disparity, widening poverty, a stagnant minimum wage and a huge welfare state that looks after the rich. It's sickeningly disgusting, and not worthy of discussing seriously. Andrew Sullivan should know better.