I often hear from people who don’t want to raise taxes that, in America, we’re a capitalist economy in which we should be able to keep what we earn. I’d argue that is only partly true. We all remember and like to talk about the Boston Tea Party and about how it was a protest against unfair taxes. It’s proof, we say, that even during the Revolution, we were against taxes. What we often forget are the Articles of Confederation, the short-lived government in place among the newly independent colonies after the Revolution. There were a few problems with it, and a few reasons why it failed, but one of them was that it had no ability to levy taxes. Turns out having no taxes are just as detrimental as unfair taxes.
As much as we might not like it, taxes are necessary for a strong federal government. Money is power, as they say, so without any money our federal government wouldn’t be able to do anything. After the Great Depression, the social responsibilities our government took on expanded, and kept expanding. Health care, retirement, building infrastructure, national security, military, welfare, and a myriad of other public services have all been put in place as a means to create a better society. And these services need funding, and that funding largely comes from taxes. So, as Stephen King says, tax the rich more. Let’s keep the important public services that help underprivileged or disadvantaged groups in our society. Tax the rich so that those programs can stay in place.
Of course, along with this is the responsibility for the government to cut down on spending that’s excessive. And we certainly have a problem in the U.S. of over-spending. I just don’t think it’s an either/or situation. The solution to our financial woes isn’t to tax the rich more or cut down on spending. The solution is to do both.