Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Upward Redistribution to the Rich"

Over at TPM Cafe's book club Jonathon Chait spoke of the Bush tax cuts as an "upward redistribution to the rich". I find this positively orwellian. The implication is that the government is taking the money from somebody (middle class or the poor) to pay the rich when in fact they are simply taking less money from the rich. There are conceivably instances where the government redistributes from the poor or the middle class to the rich, some have argued that Social Security is mildly regressive (the tax is a flat tax, it's capped, and the rich live longer), but income taxes don't fit this description. What Chait really means is that the Rich should have less of their money so that the government can spend more on goodies (education, health care, farm subsidies, whatever) to benefit the middle class or lower income folks. In fact, I find the whole business of labeling taxes and the like as a redistribution a bit misleading as it presumes an original distribution. It is not as if one day we awake with our bank accounts full of our yearly allowance, rather, our income, savings, and debts are the function of millions of independent transactions.

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