Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cure For Economic Blindness: Why The Wealthy Should Want To Be Taxed

"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." - Adam Smith

To see poverty as good for the economy requires blindness to the effect on commerce if those starving citizens were to have even a few dollars to spend on food. If those dollars would otherwise have been idle, then ignoring the benefit of putting that money to use embodies the economic equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears and screaming "Nyah, nyah, nyah, I don't hear you!" Rich and poor alike, all benefit from the poor having money to spend. How can anyone miss the benefit to the wealthy of more customers for their business? If it must come by filtering some larger portion from what's headed into the deep pockets of the wealthy, why worry for their pockets as long as they're still being filled? With thriving commerce, wealth grows. Expansion requires sufficient circulating money. Money sitting idly in stockpiles doesn't increase wealth but merely stores it. If the wealthy have smaller amounts after taxes to add to their stockpiles in the short term -- as long as they're left their assets and more than enough income to cover costs -- they'll gain even more by that money being put to use to generate ever more money down the road. After all, we're not talking about removing their accumulated assets that they use to reap money from the system. We're just talking about skimming a portion of what they'd be adding to the hoard (via higher marginal upper-bracket taxes) so that we can put it to active use.

Should we just cut checks to the poor then? No, there are far more beneficial ways to put the money to active use. Bring back the WPA to build new roads, bridges, and parks. Perhaps invest in a few additional backhoes and such -- especially for the road and bridge work. But for the parks, skip as much of the modern machinery as possible and issue the workers a bunch of shovels, hammers & nails, and materials and build 'em the old-fashioned way. We have a shortage of decent paychecks. We can use investments in infrastructure to fix that. And when the economy picks up and unemployment lowers, we wind down projects to ordinary levels and gradually release those workers back into the ordinary system. The infrastructure improvements will remain and keep helping business. It's a win for everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment