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Make us happy: raise our taxes


In May 2005, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put out a sort of Michelin Guide to the pensions of the world's0 wealthiest nations: the United States, Ireland and their ilk. While the United States is rich, comparatively it's a beggar at the bottom, with a Burger King-type pension, paying on average 39 percent of after-tax income at retirement. Others pay about 70 percent on average. Germany, Sweden: pick a country. Some pay even more.

Yet the right says we can't even do even 39 percent.

For Democrats, this ought to be the real Social Security crisis: Why aren't we at 70 percent? The OECD economists think that's what our debate should be. We have the money. We're the richest per capita - even if, "per capita," most of us get no capital. Why aren't we at least talking about 60 percent?

We propose to rob Peter, in the top 1 percent, without ever getting any fun out of paying Paul. I say: Let's give it to Paul, just to give him joy. Here's how we have to sell a tax increase: Not to be fiscally responsible, but to be a little happier. Be like the Europeans. Have a little fun.

Let's indulge in this higher GDP per capita. In richer countries, a strange thing happens: the higher the tax, the nicer it is to live there. And the more interesting life is. As the Nobelist Amartya Sen might say, the whole purpose of GDP per capita is to let us live at a higher level. When we spend our GDP on ourselves (as we do with pensions), higher taxes increase our higher powers.

Without higher taxes, then, for all our wealth we end up starving, wasting away like anorexics, refusing to let ourselves enjoy a cornucopia. We run down our public universities. We destroy our mass transit. (Sitting in traffic, do we enjoy making ourselves mentally ill?) But the worst of it is that we cheat ourselves of the taxes we could spend on ourselves.

By fnord12 | December 18, 2006, 11:21 AM | Liberal Outrage


the government is run by Peters. i'm pretty sure they aren't going to agree to a plan that let's you use the money they've stolen from Paul to pay for things that will benefit Paul. much better that the Pauls of the world starve. it's not like they have to look down from their crystal palace to actually come face to face with Paul anyway, so why should they care?