Will Shetterly quotes an article about how Americans believe in taxing the rich. But the wording of the article, and/or the people who wrote the study, don't seem to understand what they are writing about.
It begins, "A significant majority of Americans — 56 percent yes, only 40 percent no — want the government to “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.”, but the one and only tax- and the only examples of disparity they discuss- is income. What they seemingly fail to understand is that there is a difference between income and wealth. Income taxes do little if anything to redistribute the wealth.
Suppose Bill Gates died today and left his entire fortune to me. I don't know his current net worth and the taxes involved, but the exact numbers don't matter- say I get $250 billion after taxes. I quit my job, and despite the advice of financial pros, put all the money in a non interest bearing checking account just to see people's jaw drop when they run a check on me. Come April 15, 2010, what is my tax burden?
Nothing. I didn't have any income in 2009. No income, no income taxes. Doesn't matter how high the rate is if you have no income. No income, but plenty of WEALTH- I still have my quarter of a trillion. Make the income tax 100%- it's still not going to redistribute my wealth. Even if you taxed 100% of the interest a smarter man than I would have been earning on all that money, the original wealth is still there- enough for a thousand lifetimes. The only way to redistribute the wealth is to tax the wealth, not the income. If you tax the wealth, the high incomes take care of themselves- they disappear next tax year when they become wealth. The key is to tax net worth- wealth- not income.
Any politician who speaks of redistributing the wealth or the disparity between the rich and the poor and doesn't talk about taxing wealth is either a college dropout or a demagogue and a liar. There really isn't a third option that I can see. Oh, I can understand why they don't want to pass a tax on wealth- most of the politicians who are talking about the disparity between the rich and the poor are themselves living off of huge, multi-generational fortunes. They don't want to pay a wealth tax. That just makes them demagogues and hypocrites.