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"Faculty tax": The conservative answer to income taxes - Elf M. Sternberg
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"Faculty tax": The conservative answer to income taxes
I really am digging this paleoconservative notion of a faculty tax: that your tax rate should not be based on what you earn, but on you can earn. The income tax is unjust because
... between two men of equal natural powers, the income tax lays the heavier burden upon him who most fully and diligently uses his abilities and opportunities. It even accepts indolence, shiftlessness, and worthlessness as a sufficient ground for excuse from public contribution.
The cure for this, apparently, was to tax you based upon your IQ and education: the smarter and more capable you were, the higher your tax rate. Those who used their faculties correctly could earn enough to survive the tax: those who couldn't, well, in true socio-darwinian fashion they should have perished.

Basically, if two people of equal "faculty" choose different career paths, such as one becoming a banker and the other a priest, the priest should pay the same tax rates as the banker. After all, his choice to waste his talents going into the Church denies the community the full output of his faculties.

Mike Konczal makes the futher case that crushing student debt is a faculty tax. People go to college to learn the full use of their faculties, but only by maximizing salaries can they survive the debt burden of modern education. Therefore, student debt is a faculty tax because it discourages people from going into fields that society currently values less.

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Comments
shockwave77598 From: shockwave77598 Date: January 13th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
The income tax is reasonably fair. Tax me based on what I make and actually have to pay with.

Tax me on what I COULD earn? By that logic, every single person in this country could grow up to be the next Trump -- shall everyone be required to pay millions a year because there can be only one? Fresh blood from a turnip here.
atheorist From: atheorist Date: January 13th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

leisure tax

Robin Hanson proposed a leisure tax: http://hanson.gmu.edu/taxleisure.html

Both of these exotic tax proposals remind me of the window tax: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax which distorted the architecture of buildings built while it was in effect.
en_ki From: en_ki Date: January 13th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a special case of taxing capital, as with property tax. It has some virtues, like the incentive to make the fullest use of capital; but valuation of capital is harder than valuation of income, and assets are often easier to conceal.

(Someone sympathetic to Castro's revolution once told me that what he did that *really* enraged the US was exercise eminent domain over large property holders, compensating them with the property values they declared for tax purposes. I've heard plenty of things about the Cuban revolution that I didn't like, but that one made me smile. Anyway, that's the sort of measure that would work to close the loop on valuation of property for tax purposes, but it turns out not to go over well.)
dr_memory From: dr_memory Date: January 13th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
student debt is a faculty tax because it discourages people from going into fields that society currently values less.

If only.
shunra From: shunra Date: January 14th, 2012 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Taxing potential income, rather than actual?

Doesn't that stomp a bit on the possibility of people to do non-income-yielding things (like, say, spend time caring for children, elderly relatives, or go down alleys that turn out to be dead ends)?

And under such a scheme, would you tax the purchasers of lottery tickets tickets at the rate they attach to the possible winning, where each is a potential full winner? Or at the more realistic rate of not a whole lot?

How about the potential of inheritance? Would you tax a potential heir before the inheritance, and stop taxing when they received it?
kengr From: kengr Date: January 14th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Biggest bit of stupidity is calling it a "choice" to not make the most you (theoretically) could.

But that's a basic flaw of the "conservative" viewpoint. They don't concede (heck, they don't seem to even grasp as a *possibility*) that one may not be *able* to get a job that pays more, regardless of training.

After all, if you are trained for X, but there are only Y jobs doing X, and 10Y folks trained for X, the it takes *luck* (or connections) to get a job doing X.

"Hard work" and "persistence" are not anywhere *near* as important in getting ahead as they'd have you believe.
edichka2 From: edichka2 Date: January 14th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sort of a negative feedback loop.
srmalloy From: srmalloy Date: January 14th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahh, another variation of the application of hyperdemocratic principles. There was an editorial in Analog back in June of 1980 (reprinted from Astounding in August of 1958) about 'hyperdemocracy' -- where equality of opportunity was measured by equality of results, and if you had the temerity to show you were better than the rest, you obviously had superior opportunity, and were penalized for it, using income tax as an example. By earning more, you're proving, in a fundamental and inexcusable way, that you're better than the average person, and have to be penalized for it, while capital gains are taxed as a flat rate, because that's not your fault; it isn't income that you earned directly by your skill or intelligence, so you don't have to be punished for it. The faculty tax is just a more direct application of the same principle.
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