Underlying my belief in a progressive taxation system is the idea that those who make the most money are the ones who have benefited most from the American system. Without an educated labor force, an infrastructure that promotes commerce, a system of institutions that spur growth, and the social stability provided by social programs, the wealthiest Americans would not be where they are today. As such, they have a responsibility to pay a higher percentage into the system than other Americans.
Furthermore, to view taxation only in terms of income and wealth taxes is to oversimplify taxation. Payroll taxes are a flat 7.65% of earnings up to $85,000. These taxes fund Medicare and Social Security, and are funded primarily by the middle and working classes. It’s not fair for a $250,000 a year executive to pay a lower percentage of his earnings than an entry-level associate into Social Security and Medicare. Property taxes and sales taxes are also fixed-rate taxes that tend to take a bigger chunk out of the incomes of middle and working class families. Sure, sales tax is a tax on the consumption of goods, but the wealthy don’t spend as much of their income on goods as do other Americans. Add to this the various fees we pay to various local and state agencies, and you will find that the discrepancy between taxation of the richest Americans and the rest of us is not that great. Finally, the wealthy have many options to protect their wealth from taxation that are simply not available to those with lower incomes.
As for the Libertarian argument against taxation and government, I’d like to see them take over a country and implement their ideas. Let’s see how a purely market-based society runs, where every family has to pay for their own education and roads, where there is no health insurance for the elderly and poor, where people who lose their jobs have nothing to fall back on, where no one protects consumers from corporations that lie, where no one insures bank deposits against the failure of that institution, and destruction of the environment is standard business practice. Libertarians are so simple.
The government is not a burden on the people. The government should be the agent of our society and civilization.