Friday, March 4, 2011

Everyone Lives In South Dakota

Among the usual "insightful" comments found in the Your Opinions section of the Journal website, recently I've seen one creeping up more often than it should. The idea that raising taxes on the rich will just cause them or their business to move.

One specifically (Rich won't pay, firms will move) was in response to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee history professor Marc Levine's op-ed.

The commenter makes such ridiculous statements as, "Here in the real world only people pay taxes, not businesses." This idea stems from the belief that all costs are passed onto the consumer. But taxes on business, more accurately, reflect the amount of value the services and infrastructure provide to their business operation. Just because corporations are, strictly speaking, legal entities, that doesn't absolve them from being positive social members. After all, if corporations want to be involved in politics like an individual, they should pay their fair share, just like working individuals do. They're already gouging their customers and exploiting their workers, shouldn't they give a little back?

Businesses want to make a profit. That's understandable. How much of a profit that is needed or necessary is debatable. The market, as right-wingers should know, sets the price. If customers are only willing to pay a certain amount, that's all you're going to get. The equilibrium price - where supply and demand meet. But, the crux here is when we see companies making million or billions in profits and paying nothing or next to nothing in taxes (and also paying low wages). I think most rational people would say that company needs to pay more.

If someone is making millions in profits, or earning millions per year, and paying less in taxes than a waitress or a secretary is paying, and he/she would "pass on the costs" to their customers if their taxes were raised, they're not only greedy, they're douchebags.

Wouldn't it be nice if ethics, morality, common decency, or fairness entered into the right-wing, rational choice model once and a while?

Taxes are not the only factor businesses or individuals consider when they decide where to live, work, or start a business. New York has some of the highest taxes, yet it's also a financial powerhouse and world-city that is home to Fortune 500 corporations and some of the worlds richest people.

Second, if taxes has such power to push and pull people, everyone would live wherever taxes were lowest. If corporate taxes mattered to such an extent, all business would locate in Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming, where there is no corporate tax.

I long for the day when everyday citizens remove their heads from the corporate world's rectum and start acting in their own economic interests.

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