January 26, 2005
Death and taxes

David Cay Johnston is the rock star of tax reporting in USA. He recently wrote a book with a provocative title 'Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else'. I havent read it.

But City Pages of Minnesota recently interviewed him:

"Not everyone agrees, for example, that it?s a bad thing to shift the burden of taxes. And that?s why in the paperback I emphasize ... that the most conservative principle in western civilization is taxation based on the ability to pay. Because that is the principle that led to the creation of Athenian democracy. Plato, Aristotle, Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, David Ricardo, John Locke, John Stuart Mill--every single one of the worldly philosophers has concluded over 2,500 years that taxes should be based on the ability to pay. I meet all sorts of people who think that Marx thought this up, or FDR, and they are very ahistorical about it......

In ancient Athens there was a flat tax, and when the Athenians had a flat tax, Athens was a tyranny. That?s where we get the word from. When the moral philosophers of Athens reasoned that those people who got the greatest economic benefit from living in Athens had the moral obligation to bear the greatest burden of maintaining the society that made them rich. That is, when they invented taxation based on ability to pay, they also invented democracy."

Good interview - although I should note here that I do not completely share his views and certainly not his opinion of unions.

Posted by Kaushik at January 26, 2005 07:15 AM | TrackBack
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