tax madness

One of the most significant but least publicized stories in the country today is the increasing skewing of the tax code in favor of the extremely rich. Taxes have gotten more and more regressive, to the point that the lower and middle classes pay roughly the same percentage of their income in total taxes — including payroll and sales — as the rich. This is contributing to the increasingly large gap between rich and poor and the ever-ratcheting pressure on the middle class’ income, security, and lifestyle. There are many, many good things written on this subject. Here are three:

1. This post over at Calpundit draws together several data points to show how lower and middle class wages are being squeezed.

2. This review of David Cay Johnston’s new book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich — and Cheat Everybody Else by economist James K. Galbraith. It touches briefly on many of the tax code horrors most folks never hear about. (Better yet, read the book.)

3. Radical Tax Reform, by Maya MacGuineas, does some more explaining of how the tax code has become so unfair, inefficient, and insufficient to pay for our expenses. She recommends some interesting solutions, among them a progressive consumption tax that would apply to total spending. Her essay is part of the Atlantic Monthly’s “State of the Union” collaboration with the New America Foundation — all of it is worth reading.

The debate over taxes in this country, like most of our politically dialogue, is simple, verging on retarded, going back and forth about whether taxes should be higher or lower. We should be talking about what _kind_ of taxes we have, and what kind of behaviors and economic trends the taxes encourage. The hijacking of government by the rich is ongoing and in the end will hurt them as much as it hurts the country as a whole.