Conventional Republican wisdom is that the fewer taxes people pay and the simpler the tax code is, the happier and wealthier we all would be. In fact, our economy would soar and it would be utopia. Thomas Piketty’s recent book, Capital in the 21st Century claims the opposite.
Piketty, a French economist known for studying inequality, argues that progressive taxation reduces it. Psychologists find that people are most satisfied, not when they have the most of something (like money), though some probably are, but when they don’t see a huge difference between themselves and the people around them. The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) puts out a yearly list rating the quality of life around the world. They rank: 1. Australia, 2.Sweeden, 3. Canada, 4. Norway, 5. Switzerland, 6.the United States, 7. Denmark, 8. the Netherlands, 9, Iceland and 10. the UK. Of the countries on the chart, only the UK follows us. Everyone on the list pays higher taxes.
The 2011 paper , Progressive Taxation and the the Subjective Well-being of Nations (Dr. Shigehiro Oishi from the University of Virginia) found, “Respondents living in a nation with more-progressive taxation evaluated their lives as closer to the best possible life and reported having more positive and less negative daily experiences than did respondents living in a nation with less-progressive taxation.”
When Bill Clinton was president, some on the right claimed that he was destroying our way of life because he was making “taxation acceptable.” His argument was that people would start getting something good in return for their taxes and not mind paying them. According to the right, this would lead to the apocalypse.
The right doesn’t hate President Obama just because of the Affordable Care Act, they hated him long before that, but it is one reason. Obamacare is a tangible way people can see their taxes in action. In the same vein, they aren’t trying to cut education funding for just that reason, they just think the only things our tax dollars should go to is the military and investigations into the Obama administration.
Republican Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Maybe we need to stop demonizing taxes and wonder why making things essential to life such as health care, an education, shelter, etc. is so bad. The citizens of such a great county as this one deserve better.