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Paul Buchheit
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Tuesday 6 March 2012
“The super-rich like to believe their own initiative and creativity have been the primary drivers of growth in technology and science and business and medicine.”

The Best Reason for the Very Rich to be Paying A LOT More in Taxes

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Before getting into the best reason, here are some of the usual -- and always good -- reasons. First of all, For every dollar the richest 1% earned in 1980, they've added three more dollars. The poorest 90% have added ONE CENT.

The richest million families have not worked three times (let alone 300 times) harder than the other 99 million families.

The richest 10% own 80% of the stock market, providing billions in "unearned income" that is taxed at less than half the rate of income earned through real work. The richest million families may have actually worked LESS than the other 99 million families.

A number of individuals have had one-year incomes over a billion dollars, enough to pay the salaries of 25,000 teachers or health care workers or

emergency responders. It's questionable whether a guy who makes a billion betting on a mortgage collapse is worth even one teacher or health care worker or emergency responder.

Next is the woeful state of tax collections on the people making most of the money. Mitt Romney pays 15%, Warren Buffett 17.4%. The richest 400 Americans, 16.6%. The whole top 1% (a million families) paid less than 23% in 2006.

Average Americans pay more than that. Studies show that when state and local taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes are tallied up, low-income people can be paying a higher percentage of taxes than the rich, perhaps up to 40% of their incomes.

Average Americans are also paying more than corporations. For every dollar of workers' payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it's 16 cents.

Whew. A lot of good reasons for the rich to be paying a lot more in taxes. But here's the BEST REASON. The super-rich like to believe their own initiative and creativity have been the primary drivers of growth in technology and science and business and medicine. Some innovative business leaders deserve credit for putting the pieces together on specific initiatives. But the pieces themselves were put together over many years by thousands of less conspicuous people. As Elizabeth Warren said, "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody."

Consider just a simple communications device. The pieces were put together by a procession of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production-line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc. They, in turn, couldn't have succeeded without another layer of people providing sustenance and medical support and security and administrative assistance and transportation and office maintenance for the technologists. ALL of them contributed to the final product.

You say a lot of them DID get paid? Well, then, something's wrong, because few of the profits over the last 30 years went to this "middle class" of people to keep them financially secure, and to keep them educated in all the new technologies that are replacing their jobs.

The long-term dependency on the supporting members of society is the best reason for the most fortunate among us to care about everyone else. Sadly, research suggests that wealthy people have less empathy for people unlike themselves, because they no longer have reason to associate with them.

This psychological gap between the rich and the rest of us naturally diminishes the incentive for the 1% to support anyone beneath their economic class. Thus less tax revenue and more cutbacks. Cuts in federal spending have been accompanied by an onslaught of social ills, including the highest poverty and homicide and incarceration and obesity and mental illness rates, an increasing child mortality rate, the highest health care costs, low global rankings in math and science scores. We continue to cut the programs that support a stable society.

The most fortunate among us have succeeded because all of America has supported them for 60 years. Yet they've somehow come to believe that they did it all on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. They should be thanking all the people who contributed to their success.

Thanking them by paying taxes.

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ABOUT Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

Right-wing diatribe

Right-wing diatribe consisting entirely of unsupported claims, allegations, bogus logic and rhetoric. A little longer than the the use brainwashed right-wing drivel that gets posted all over the Internet, but the rhetoric is the same.

This article, while sounding

This article, while sounding "reasonable", is so full of outright lies, it is disgusting...and typically liberal.

"TGS10", you spent quite a while looking up, and posting quotes, that apply ten times as much to the liberal...socialist....democrats, than they do to any Republican, especially a conservative one.

It is CONSERVATIVES that want people to accept responsibility for their own choices and actions....but, it is the big government, liberal socialists, such as the lying obama, the Clintons, the Kennedys, etc, that continue to excuse the poor choices, and bad behavior of those that refuse to use the American system of education, mentoring, and financial aid, to get an education and become a financially successful member of American society....they, instead, would rather play softball, basketball, sing hip hop, drink beer, or take drugs, drop out of school at 16, and run the streets, then blame "the man" for "holding them back", or "keeping them down"....more total bull shit.

The American education system USED to be one of the best in the world...then, starting in 1964, with the decision to take prayer out of schools, the decline began...I can hear the liberal "howls" of rage now, but the simple fact is that you can see, year by year, the graph of the steady decline in overall reading, writing, science, math, etc, scores of American public school educated's a FACT.

Then, of course, along comes the liberal democrat, Hillary Clinton, who basically wrote the disastrous "Goals 2000", education guide for America's public school about a DISASTER!....this socialist moron is the one who taught that if a child says "2 plus 2 equals 5", we are not supposed to correct them, because it "might hurt their self image"...more liberal bull shit and part of the "dumbing down of America", from those that hate what this country was, and seek to turn it into a socialist "utopia", where "THEY" decide what jobs you get, how much money you make, how much tax they will steal from you, what cars you can drive, what food your child will eat, etc, etc, etc,....look around you...can you say you are NOT seeing this happen right now?...if you can, then you are either a total moron, or a typical, dishonest, lying, socialist democrat...who continually makes excuses as to why ALL your liberal programs from education, to sex education, to tax payer funded abortion, to the DISASTROUS law...that BILL CLINTON fought for and signed in to being, that FORCED the banks to "lend" ( really GIVE) loans to people who simply could NOT EVER pay the money back...and that even included some ILLEGAL MEXICANS!...and don't forget the Kenyan Obama's part in that mess....those were the days when this lying half breed Mau Mau was out "community organizing" and guiding unruly mobs of his ACORN ghetto rats to the private residences of the bankers to pound on the walls and windows of their homes, terrifying their wives and children, until they were forced to "loan" (really GIVE) the mortages to those low lifes....THEN, when Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd...lying, dishonest, liberal DEMOCRATS, were put in charge of Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, it was like letting the fox guard the hen house...the government bought up more and more BAD mortgages leading to the growing bubble of impending financial disaster looming over our economy....THEN, despite the THIRTY SEVEN times the REPUBLICANS tried to get bills brought to the floor of the House for a vote to change that system, the lying, totally dishonest, socialist DEMOCRAT Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker, REFUSED to even allow a vote on those, the whole housing financial collapse disaster was INITIATED by BILL CLINTON....pushed further by BARRACK HUSSEIN OBAMA....and then allowed to fester and rot by the lying, socialists, BARNEY FRANK and CHRISTOPHER DODD....lying, socialist, dishonest DEMOCRATS ALL!

Now, of course, the totally dishonest main stream media gives cover to obama, clinton, pelosi, dodd, and frank...while NEVER placing blame where it belongs...on the liberal democrats...for the financial disaster that COULD have been avoided...if there were some people with common sense in charge, and not lying, dishonest DEMOCRATS.

Of course now, obama wants to blame everything on President Bush, and the Republicans, when it is the DEMOCRATS that started, and oversaw the whole mess, and obama wants to deflect HIS responsibility in the fisaco by stirring up racial and class warfare...and claim the "rich" (whatever that is, as he seems to change the number to suit his argument for the day) "aren't paying their fair share"....and that HE should "redistribute" the if he has been anointed "KING of AMERICA"....which is what he really seems to believe.

So, while liberals will constantly blame others, and NEVER face reality that THEIR programs DO NOT WORK!...the will continue to say that MORE TAXPAYER MONEY is all that is necessary to make their totally failing programs work...and it won't...they never do...anywhere they have ever been tried...for as Margret Thatcher said..."The problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY!"....a fact that never seems to deter dishonest liberals, and make them face up to the honest truth that, given human simply can not help the poor out of poverty by stealing wealth from others.

If you want a "fair" taxation system, then the ONLY way is a FLAT TAX...then everybody, above a certain income level, is taxed AT THE SAME the more you make, the more total dollars you pay...but the RATE is the same for everyone...THAT is the ONLY fair system. And, never forget, despite what the lying liberal media continues to tell is the DEMOCRATS that receive the MOST money in campaign contributions for corporations, and lawyers, and even Wall Street...NOT Republicans!...don't believe the lying some Google research on your might make you realize just how wrong you've been all your life, drinking the liberal Kool-Aide, and buy in to their false stories of just WHY we have the social ills in this country that we do.

NOBAMA in 2012!

"If you want a "fair"

"If you want a "fair" taxation system, then the ONLY way is a FLAT TAX"

There is no rational reason to believe the tax system should strive to satisfy a subjective notion of fairness, and you'll never get everyone to agree on what would be fair. Tax policy should be based on what's best for the economy and society as a whole.

"then everybody, above a certain income level, is taxed AT THE SAME RATE"

What you describe is a progressive tax with two brackets.

Right-wing diatribe

Right-wing diatribe consisting entirely of unsupported claims, allegations, bogus logic and rhetoric. A little longer than the the use brainwashed right-wing drivel that gets posted all over the Internet, but the rhetoric is the same.

Only got back to this article

Only got back to this article recently and saw this rant. DRB, you have your head up your butt so far that you can't even see sunlight. You may be proud of your Neo-con-ness, and the term might even seem modern and up-to-date to you - but be aware that your views belong somewhere back in the Dark Ages.

The sad group of candidates for the Repubs are a testament of just how out of touch you and your party is to the intelligent part of America, and it is more and more likely that they will sweep Obama back into power. Even though some may not be truly enamored of his performance to date, he is so far out in front of any of the remaining motley crew vying for the Repub nomination that he will win in a heartbeat.

Sorry for that, but you might as well get used to it, DRB

Bull shit

Bull shit

The Dirty F**kin' Hippies ...

The Dirty F**kin' Hippies ... Were Right.

The 99% must boycott paying

The 99% must boycott paying income taxes until the 1% pay their rightful share. What ?They're going to jail all of us...A fundamental basis for democracy is 'no taxation without representation', right? Avoid paying tax until we get REAL representation.

The 99% must boycott paying

The 99% must boycott paying income taxes until the 1% pay their rightful share. What ?They're going to jail all of us...A fundamental basis for democracy is 'no taxation without representation', right? Avoid paying tax until we get REAL representation.

This has been going on from

This has been going on from the very beginning of this Country. Note on this date; December 2, 1859 a written note handed to his jailer on the morning of his execution, read: I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will be judged away but with blood, I had, do I now think, vainly flattered myself that without much bloodshed it might be done. Now,if it deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded bywicked, cruel and unjust enactments-I submit; so let it be done. Written by John Brown; Let us not repeat the pass. We can change this greed and injustice by the LAW. What are the benefits of being Citizens of the United States of America? Citizenship means Full Rights of Ownership, We grants corporations the privilege to serve. When did privilege override Rights?

There banking on the raise of

There banking on the raise of the middle class in China. they will be buying anything that is placed in front of them. That product will be made by third world labor, The US is quickly becoming England. What we buy will have no impact on the world economy, compared to a billion Chinese.

First of all taxes on labor

First of all taxes on labor is ILLEGAL and UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Second, ALL taxes paid goes directly to the (foreign, privately owned corporation(s)) Federal Reserve/IMF to pay the interest on the debt. ALL our public services and maintenance are paid for with NEW debt money.Get rid of the FED/IRS cabal (among many other similar corporations) and the main source of these problems will be solved.

What surprises me is the

What surprises me is the shortsightedness of the 1%. Historically the wealthy become wealthier when wealth is shared so the middle class can afford to buy things. Stamping out the middle class is ultimately self destructive for the wealthy. This can take place either through the businesses they own failing as customers cannot afford their products or through revolution. Stealing from the poor is not a sensible long term strategy.

Income inequality was a major

Income inequality was a major cause of the Great Depression and was a major cause of this Great Recession. The knowledgeable leaders of the past knew that you have to support the majority of the people to keep a country running smoothly, and not catter to the top 1%. In 1938 we had 33 tax brackets from 4% for all income to $64,000. all the way up to 79% for income over $79,000,000. Now that is Fair and Balanced. This what we need today. Either convince the Democratic Party to get it done or get a new Party. "Tax Em Like 1938" is my battle cry.

Well, I dont really trust

Well, I dont really trust that you can BUY the loyalty of these rascals longterm. You can only RENT them. Ask em for a favor 12 months later and they will say what have you done for me recently

It costs local, state, and

It costs local, state, and federal governments an awful lot more protecting the assets and interests of the rich. They should pay more.

My chain smoking grandma once

My chain smoking grandma once said; "No matter where you are, or how you think you got there, you are there because you are standing on someone's shoulders". That's close anyway, considering it was filtered through a cloud of Pall Mall smoke.

If taxation was really just a matter of taking money from those that have and giving it to those that don't, one might have a moral argument to make. Very little of the money collected in taxes is just handed over to the needy. Most of it is spent on services that benefit the broader swath of society. Health care, education, filling potholes, putting out fires, keeping people from taking your furniture and so on. One thing that can be said about the government getting the money is that they spend it. As it stands now, the biggest untapped pool of money is in the hands of the 1% and they most certainly are NOT spending it. Not as "job creators" or anything else, (unless we want to count the jobs they create in China).

If the wealthy are so concerned about how socialist this country is (and has been for a long time), I think they should demonstrate their conservative bona fides by assuring us that if any of their houses catch fire, don't call the fire department. Firemen are just so much socialist riff-raff, feeding at the public tit. Show us your true conservative colors. Let it burn to the ground. Don't steer your SUVs or stretch Hummers onto any public roads. Public roads are just another socialistic concept ginned up by fellow travellers to channel the wealthy's precious "earnings" into the pockets of some unwashed creep on a bulldozer. Should someone break into your home and steal your furniture, don't phone the police. Actually, maybe you will be able to phone the police since no small part of their job is to protect your life and wealth in spite of their socialist formulation. The police are the one public service you can rely on. But that doesn't mean you couldn't hire Blackwater to hunt down the perps and execute them if you want. However, when you die, don't expect me to mourn.

Yeah but does it make

Yeah but does it make economic sense. The reality is that when we have higher taxes, the rich have less incentive to slash payrolls to the bone to increase the companies profitability. If I am taking home 10% of a billion this year, am I going to make a decision that cuts 1000's of jobs and possibly cost me 100's of millions in lost demand for the next ten yen years. On the other hand if I am keeping 85% of that money, then I can easily make up the losses in my investment portfolio, unless the bubble pops.

OH my gosh!!! This is an

OH my gosh!!! This is an absolutely fabulous article. You said, soooo much better than I could ever hope to, what I think on this subject!! THANK YOU!! I will share on facebook and put the hope out to all that the article go viral!! Again, thank you!

Make no mistake...this will

Make no mistake...this will be a campaign of the wealthy vs the middle classes. In the past we could sort of keep the unfairness in check because we could outvote them. But since the SCOTUS ruled that "money talks" and gave the dollar bill a vote, it has become harder to get a level playing field.

Consider...the top 1 percent control 42.7% of the nation's wealth , the next 19 percent, 50.3%, and the bottom 80 percent only 7%. (from a 2007 study)

The GOP wants to give us more trickle down economics.
Here's how that has worked out so far.

Average loss/gain in income per household from 1979 to 2005
top 1% + $597,241 more
next 4% + $29,8985 more
next4% + $4,912 more
next 10% - $3,733 less
next 20% - $8,598 less
next 20% - $10,100 less
next 20% - $8,582 less
bottom 20% - $5,623 less less

This is a simplistic representation of trends and some of the numbers are subject to question. Still, the trend and uneven distribution does not bode well for the shrinking middle class.

It also doesn't imply that a more fair redistribution should rely on taking money from one group and giving it to another. It does imply that that reverse money flow, from the poor to the rich, needs to become more fair. This can be done by leveling opportunities, preventing monopolies, and stopping large multinational corporations from using unfair business practices to stifle competition.

I can hear the screams now...."free market", "free market". Unfortunately, financial might doesn't make right. An unfettered "free market" will always concentrate wealth. It's like the medieval melees when a group of knights assembled on a field and fought until only one was left standing...the strongest.

"...the greatest strength enjoyed by the Republican Right is their complete, total, and utter lack of shame. They will say anything - literally anything - to gain the rhetorical advantage, even when it flies in the face of twelve dozen statements on the record or forty years of established party doctrine. If it's a blade that can be slipped beneath the fifth rib of a Democrat, according to the Atwater Code, deploy it with lethal intent, and never mind the shame." (William Rivers Pitt}

The conservative mantra. "We avoid what we do not wish to see; we are deaf to what we do not wish to hear; we ignore what we do not wish to know. We are masters of self-deception, of manipulating our perceptions." (The Winds of Dune)
"Nor is it mere naivete...Our denial is willful, our studied indifference conveniently self-serving to our basest desires." (House of Chains)They choose "...intransigence as a weapon with which they hold wisdom at bay". (Midnight Tides)

It's more than unfortunate, and just plain sad, that such a large portion of the population believe the word "conservative" conveys intelligence and wisdom.

Today's Republican party doesn't seem to have a decent ethical outlook. They are doing things deliberately, and openly, to prevent a recovery from our recession, caused by them, at the expense of the general population's well being. That's just plain evil, and they need to be punished at the voting booth.

Speaking for the 99%, we have

Speaking for the 99%, we have been conceding away our future security for the past 30 years to finance the greatest con job in the history of humanity: supply-side, "trickle-down" economics. The plutocrats in the top 1 % and their political shills behind this con job see concessions not as compromise but as the gateway to even more concessions.

It's way past time to make the rich pay their fair share in taxes to contribute to a functioning society from which they too benefit. No more concessions from the 99%. Period.

Amen Br Phil..see my post.

Amen Br Phil..see my post.

"The most fortunate among us

"The most fortunate among us have succeeded because all of America has supported them for 60 years." And those dirty greedy bastards don't even recognize all the goodies they have gobbling up. They take up spaces in schools, colleges and universities. Their big cars clog our roads and bridges. Their high-end operations, their plastic surgeries, liposuctions, and their spa and fat-farm and drug rehab visits, eat into health care. Their country-club gardens and lawns use up valuable water, and their electric use strains the energy grid. But they refuse to pay their share. They've "earned" their wealth? They are "entitled"?

I just wanted to mention

I just wanted to mention that, although people will point out that, for example, all that medical care was privately paid for, it was subsidized by the state universities and community colleges and public hospitals that trained so many of the medical professionals, paraprofessionals, and cosmeticians, etc. that made their stays in hotels for cosmetic surgery so pleasant.

For Sale: Judges -- Federal &

For Sale:

Judges -- Federal & State
Legislators -- Federal & State
Executives -- President, Governors, Attorneys General, Regulators

Bargain Basement Prices (Negotiable)

Indeed. Now why don't our

Indeed. Now why don't our so-called political class (besides someone like Bernie Sanders) or the president remind us of this on a regular basis. Alas, I think we know the answer.

wow 40% in taxes.. no wonder

wow 40% in taxes.. no wonder

Nicely put. Many more

Nicely put. Many more financial facts worth noting at the website Working in America.

Beautifully written and

Beautifully written and well-said. Thank you for laying it out.

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