Story Stream

recent articles

The left-leaning rich frequently complain that they don’t pay enough in the way of taxes. To right the alleged wrong they claim they’ll vote for politicians who will legislate higher rates of taxation on them. Apparently there’s nobility in self-flagellation.

The problem is that low-tax types on the right encourage the left’s self-abnegation. Apparently they don’t see that their encouragement is more than a bit contradictory. Indeed, when they supposedly call the bluff of witless lefties by telling them to feel free to write a bigger check to the U.S. Treasury, they’re unwittingly reminding us that the self-flagellation is very much a bipartisan concept.

They forget that we all suffer the burden of higher tax revenues. More specifically, a $1 billion tax increase on Jeff Bezos is a $1 billion tax increase on all of us. So is it a tax increase on all of us when the guiltiest of the Hollywood rich, desperate to be seen as more than “woke,” go out of their way to brag about how much they pay in taxes. Their stupidity is all of our burden.

To understand why this is true, readers need only consider why politicians tax in the first place. The answer can be explained through our own motivations in going to work each day. We work because we want and need things for ourselves. Our work is what we exchange for all that we don’t have, but need in order to survive.

Politicians are no different. They want things too. The tax laws they write are a veiled expression of their desire to enjoy a portion of what we produce. Translated, they want a paycheck too and they’re using the political markets to get paid.  

To the above, some will reply that politicians tax in order to “help people.” They want to help those who can’t help themselves, or those who are “forgotten,” but they’re dissembling. If it’s about getting things to people, politicians are more than superfluous. How do we know this? We do because the path to wealth in the private sector is most explicitly one of mass-producing former luxuries. And if readers are wondering what “former luxuries” constitute, they include most everything you own, including the computer on which you’re reading this opinion piece.  

The above can be best explained by the Budweiser Light tag line, “for the many, not the few.” The tag line is an apt description of how people get rich in a free society. They do so most often by meeting the needs of the many. Walmart made it possible for the common man to have access to the world’s plenty, while the late Steve Jobs quite literally put supercomputers in our pockets for several hundred dollars. Not too long ago, the technology produced by Jobs for us at low cost would have set us back millions. In Travis Kalanick’s case, he made it possible for the everyday among us to quite literally summon a driver at any time, and from nearly anywhere.

So if it were about getting us things, politicians would do nothing but protect individual freedom. No one gets us things as well as the profit-motivated, which means politicians more truthfully want to fail to adequately supply us with resources in as inefficient manner as possible, during which time they’ll take a piece of the action.

Thinking about all of this in terms of the rich paying more, it’s all so very counterproductive. Let’s not encourage this. The federal government is not staffed by the magical; rather it’s filled with people who used to not work in government. By virtue of them choosing government, they in many instances are revealing a lack of ambition or imagination. Basically they want a paycheck without the stresses and strains that come with earning one in the profit-motivated world.

When we pay taxes, or the rich do, or the man behind the proverbial tree does, it’s a tax on all of us as the least efficient and least imaginative are basically empowered to fail when it comes to meeting our needs. If anyone doubts this, please tell me about all the government services that profit-motivated couldn’t provide in much cheaper and higher quality fashion.

Crucial here is that it’s not just about what actual businesses can provide for us in the here-and-now. It’s also that they relentlessly push down the cost of everything all the while pushing up the quality. Lest we forget, the first mainframe computer in the 1960s cost over $1 million, the first incredibly primitive mobile phone cost $3,995, and the first laser printer cost $17,000.

Thanks to relentless experimentation and investment, we can get all of the above at a fraction of the original cost despite all of the above performing in exponentially better fashion in modern times. All of this matters in consideration of the rich paying more in taxes simply because the more wealth they hand to the federal government, the less experimentation and investment there will be among those who want to meet our needs.

Bringing it all back to you and me, no one escapes taxes. This includes those who hand over nothing to the federal government. As individuals we all have endless wants and needs that those eager to attain wealth are working feverishly to get to us so that they may become rich. The richer these individuals become, the more our living standards rise.

These innovators need capital to get us things at prices that continue to fall. Taxation, whether coerced by government, or handed to the government by the dim, is a tax we all bear. Better yet, it’s a cost we all suffer simply because money that flows to Washington is money that’s not reaching those who aim to mass produce former luxuries.

In that case, limited government members of the right must stop encouraging the rich and guilty left to pay more in taxes. They’re defeating their small government goals for doing so, all the while delaying the progress that leads to more and more goods and services at our disposal, and at prices that continue to fall. 

John Tamny is a speechwriter and writer of opinion pieces for clients, he’s editor of RealClearMarkets, Director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research and Trading ( His new book is The End of Work, about the exciting explosion of remunerative jobs that don’t feel at all like work.  He’s also the author of Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics. He can be reached at  

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...