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By Tom Toles


Tax me MORE

There was a story on NPR Wednesday about wealthy people who feel they are undertaxed. I love stories like that. If there ever was a win-win scenario, I think we have it here. Of course, there are underlying ramifications, glowering ramifications of the political, economic and philosophical sort standing between these generous souls and the yawning federal coffers.

But first, a round of applause. I think the rich are undertaxed, too! By many accounts, they're paying a LOWER rate than you are. And don't get me started on the “death tax” dinging a second and third generation of trust-funders. Exactly WHAT hard work of theirs demands some kind of tax shielding? I suppose we are to be grateful for their contribution due to being part of the “investor class.” Has a more rhapsodically mesmerizing term than “investor class” been invented? Possibly “death tax.”

Listening to the report, I had one of those brief flashes of inspiration that masquerades as an idea. Take some of that higher tax revenue from the wealthy and supply it to something ELSE of value to the economy! Say, paying off the loans of students who earn a degree in mathematics, a skill we desperately need to compete in the new global marketplace! But then I realized that those new math wizards would just go off to Wall Street and wreck the economy all over again. --Tom Toles



By Tom Toles  | April 15, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy and jobs  
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It's amazing to me to see how misrepresented and misunderstood that 47% stat has become. It does not mean that 47% of households pay no federal tax. It means they pay no "income" tax. If they work, they pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, they still pay state taxes, they still pay sales taxes, if they own property they still pay property taxes...and so on...

To say that they pay "no tax" is intellectually dishonest and inflamatory. The fact that media has made little effort to clarify the issue just feeds into the polarized cellpool that passes for public discourse these days.

Posted by: shoemakerk | April 20, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I love your cartoons and your 'rants' even more. America has lost its edge in manufacturing, inventions and now education. The country has descended into a cesspool of betting. No, not like Vegas, because you'd find your ass in jail if you behaved like the Wall Street criminals do. You are absolutely right - where is the indignation and demand to see these criminals go to jail? Nobody in the country seems to understand anything anymore because journalism is DEAD!!! There is not a single source that is doing good old fashioned reporting without spinning the S@#!T out of just about anything. Case in point, the logo used for the Nuclear Summit. For the last time, for you morons at Fox - it represents the Hydrogen Atom!!! Yes I know you won't get it but shut the F%$K up.

Posted by: verbs | April 18, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, most of the (theoretical) math majors I know ran far away from finance. Looked a lot like selling your soul. It was the math minors who went into finance in droves.

(I was a theoretical math major. I now work in tax policy, and feel slightly guilty for being a woman skilled in math and not working in science or teaching math. Except I really like what I do.)

I know you meant it facetiously, but paying off the loans of those who choose to major in math or science is probably not a very effective incentive. Instead, we need to be telling children from age 10 or so that learning math well and taking a lot of courses in it is a fabulous way to ensure that you can always get a secure, higher-paying job. Because it's true, but most people don't discover it until too late. Perhaps a marketing campaign directed at teenagers? A major investment in middle school math teachers (who are the serious weak link)?

Quantitative careers aside, our society (and political discourse) would seriously benefit from a stronger understanding of numbers. It's much harder to mislead people with statistics and sticker shock when they really understand what the numbers mean.

Posted by: gbrunet | April 16, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

However little the rich are taxed, I am sure they pay more than the 47% of households in America who paid no federal tax in 2009.

Tom, it is one thing to say the rich should pay more than the poor in dollars. It is quite another to say they should pay a higher percentage than the poor. And its Obamanomics to say the poor should pay nothing at all, and have their every fond wish for more and more government granted.

You see when half of Americans pay no tax, it is easy to understand why 45% of Americans think they are taxed right. My money is that 45% overlaps strongly with the 47% who pay nothing.

Consider the following quote attributed to Alexandar Tytler,

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public
treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage."

The only real check to democracies voting themselves the treasury is to charge all of the people equally for the government they consume. Then it is in everyone's interest to not comsume as much of it. Where Obama is taking us in the great cycle is from apathy towards dependance upon the government (witness the 99 weeks of unemployment you can now collect).

Another interesting quote is by Margaret Thatcher,

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]."

Right now 47% of Americans are voting to spend the remaining 53% of American's tax dollars. As the nonpaying fraction increases, we enter Thatcherland.

Another one to consider

"Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built."
- Abraham Lincoln

It is one thing for someone who thinks they are not taxed enough to voluntarily contribute to the US treasury. It is quite another to take the subjective opinon of one person as an excuse to institutionalize government sanctioned theft of the fruits of our labor to be redistributed to those who pay nothing. You see just about anyone can buy into the ethics of voluntary charity, but only the lowest, meanist, Marxist thug can justify taxation as just or noble.

Posted by: Wiggan | April 15, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse


That's the second time this week I've heard the statistic that 50% of the population pay no federal income tax. I can't figure out how that is possible - do you have a citation for that?

Posted by: Gurduloo | April 15, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I just want to point out that the people in that article saying they are under taxed are top 1%-2% wage earners and millionaires not people from the upper middle class in the 10% income earners who often get swept in with that group.

There is a huge difference in making $150k combined in a household than making $500K or up. A family pulling in $150K a year are closer in income to the poor than the truly rich; lets remember they might be in the upper part of the middle class but they are still middle class not rich.

Posted by: flonzy3 | April 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I note that under the present administration the number of people who are defined as "rich" seems to be growing as the threshold keeps being lowered. Pretty soon we'll all be "rich" just like everyone is "special". Yikes... could this be the beginning of the imposition of a flat tax. Who knew the Democrats were closet Libertarians?

Posted by: RockDoctor | April 15, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Suggestion for you , Tom......
If you think you're not paying enough..... SEND IT IN baby!! Otherwise, you 're nothing but a typical liberal hypocrite. How about redistributing some of your wealth MY way??... Besides, with nearly half the population paying NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX, maybe you could help the remaining 50% of us that do, to help support the rest of the drones. Cartoon logic on display once again..... idiot!!

Posted by: Shrimper | April 15, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Why not just get rid of the stock market since rich liberals run it and poor liberals ain't in it.

You are uninformed. 90% of Americans are directly or indirectly affected by the health of the market.

Now, many of us are self funding our retrirement, via 401k, IRA, etc. Pension funds depend on the market, as well.

The last thing this country needs is a new wave of ignorance.

It is too bad many Americans do not grasp that employment is dependent on employers. Government and business must work together, even when it is popular to bash the private sector.

Posted by: primegrop | April 15, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Every day with a Toles cartoon is a day without a well drawn, funny Oliphant cartoon. If you must be so liberal, at least draw well.

Posted by: bobbo2 | April 15, 2010 5:11 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! Love the supoorts buffering the next Eco impact.

Posted by: | April 15, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Why not just get rid of the stock market since rich liberals run it and poor liberals ain't in it.

Posted by: taxcutsin12 | April 14, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

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