I’m a firm believer in progressive taxes. These taxes have rates that rise with the size of one’s income. My principle justification is that it seems only fair that the well to do should pay more for the benefit of living in a nation that allows them to do so well. My secondary reason is that our nation’s lawmakers knowingly and unknowingly give rich well connected people laws which allows them to benefit at the expense of others. When they do well, not simply because of their own hard work but because the playing field was tilted to their advantage, it seems only fair that they should pay for their good fortune.
Here’s a good example of how some people benefit because of the law. You will have to get to the end of this rather long story on NPR to get there:
That’s $4.5 billion on patents that these companies almost certainly don’t want for their technical secrets. That $4.5 billion won’t build anything new, won’t bring new products to the shelves, won’t open up new factories that can hire people who need jobs. That’s $4.5 billion dollars that adds to the price of every product these companies sell you. That’s $4.5 billion dollars buying arms for an ongoing patent war.
Here’s my simple explanation of what this means. The nation’s patent laws have created a situation where some law firms have set up dummy corporations that buy up tens of thousands of dubious, vague and often worthless patents that make claims about accomplishing things that are a joke. In buying all these bogus patents the law firms can set up the equivelent of a mafia style protection racket and threaten to sue anyone attempting to patent something of real benefit. In this way they accomplish two things. They stunt innovation and they rake in piles of protection money cash that can not be put into innovation.
It might be hard to rewrite a more sensible patent law but we ought to tax the, in this case, $4.5 billion of income at one hell of a high tax rate.
I think you would be hard pressed to find a single occupation of high earners who have not benefited in similar, although less egregious, ways. But the Republican Party wants to protect high earners on the questionable assumption that anyone earning six figures or more is only being punished for being successful when forced to pay a progressive income tax.