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Letters to the Editor
 

Truth and taxes


B. Ellis October 12th, 2011

I recently read D.W. Tiffee’s letter (“Soak the rich,” Sept. 28, Gazette) responding to Mike Brake’s Sept. 14 letter (“Batchelder logic”) on taxing the “rich.”

 I found said letter to include the same slight-of-hand statistical shifting so often used by the left that I felt compelled to ask both the writer of the letter and the staff of the Gazette to consider avoiding using such tactics or publishing such tactics in the future. In doing so, I have no doubt that the level of discourse will benefit.

Tiffee’s argument, along with Michael Moore and so many like them, is that the rich must pay a larger share of their income because the rich have a larger share of the wealth. Quite simply, this is a non sequitur. Having a high income is only indirectly related to having enormous wealth.

Moreover, raising the income tax rates will have very little effect on the concentration of wealth in this country. In fact, it will arguably make it worse! If you want to change the concentration of wealth, then go for it, but argue your point honestly and stop pretending that raising the income tax will have a effect on wealth concentration.

Tiffee and his ilk routinely, and I would argue intentionally and willfully, dodge three simple truths in this tax debate: One, the government taxes certain income differently. Comparing Warren Buffet’s income (mostly capital gains that have been taxed and re taxed) to that of his assistant (mostly income tax) is to compare apples to oranges (and fails to include numerous other taxes not included in the equation, but certainly present at the end of the day). Tiffee may want capital gains to have the same tax treatment as ordinary income (if so, he needs to expressly say so), but that is hardly an option worth arguing, as much of the industrialized world does not tax capital gains and the U.S. would lose much of the capital we need to jumpstart this economy if such a policy were implemented.

Second, the “rich” do, in fact, pay “their fair share” in taxes. The “rich” earn (read: income) about 20 percent of the income annually while paying about 40 percent of the taxes annually.

Finally, other than the top 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. and a handful of others whose income is subject almost entirely to the capital gains tax rate (and who protect their wealth through other means of tax avoidance like purchasing municipal bonds, etc.) and not income tax rates, the “rich” do pay a much higher percentage of their income to the government than the average middle-class family. Claiming otherwise is simply not true.

—B. Ellis
Oklahoma City

Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to rcollins@okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

 
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