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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Obama’s Postive Progressive Tax Plan

    If you want to talk taxes and debate the point and purpose of them, than you have to consider the point and purpose of government. From these considerations, the following questions naturally arise: Why do we bother having a governing body that collects money? What should government be able to spend that money on? Shouldn’t people be able to spend what they’ve earned directly on what they themselves deem valuable, without the government middleman?

    These are all good questions and they all have good answers. America has just elected its first African-American president in a grueling election that will be taught in history classrooms for countless generations to come. Whether you like him or not, President-elect Barack Obama will be entering the White House near the end of January with a Democratic agenda, and with it, a Democratic, progressive tax policy.

    If you watched any of the debates or stump speeches, you know what his basic tax plan is by now. Keep corporate tax levels where they are and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order for the middle and lower classes and small businesses to receive monetary relief. It is an appealing platform to many, and Obama proposes that it will benefit 95 percent of the American populous. But what about that other 5 percent, whose spending power stands to be decreased? Many of these people seem understandably angry at such a plan.

    Perhaps the Obama plan should be rejected, maybe these rich people have a point. After all, if enough people want something badly enough, they can decide for themselves to pool together enough collective funds in order to pay for it themselves. Why should it be the responsibility of the wealthiest Americans to pick up the tab?

    I understand this argument and would agree with them if I was in a position where, given Obama’s tax plan, I might stand to pay tens of thousands of dollars more from out of my half a million dollar a year salary than I did under George Bush. However, it just happens that I am a poor college student.

    I think the underlying problem here is that people need to start understanding that we live in one society. Whether you bring home an annual salary of $10,000 or $10,000,000, there needs to be some sort of tax system in order to fund programs that benefit those who have been exploited, injured, or just need help doing what they can’t pay for on their own. Sure, it’s understandable that you might not want your tax dollars going towards programs that don’t interest you, but there are federally funded programs programs that do benefit everyone, such as highways, law enforcement and military, schools, libraries, etc.

    And even if there are programs that individuals don’t directly benefit from, such as Social Security, Medicare, and welfare, is it not worth sacrificing a bit of your wealth in order to ensure that your children will one day be able to receive these benefits when they’re elderly? Employers should also consider than any service that the government offers for free is a service you don’t have to guarantee and pay for your employees and customers. Public safety nets benefit society as a whole and in our individual wallets.

    The counterargument is that it should be up to the people to decide how to spread their own wealth. This may be true, but the number of rich patrons lining up to create a private organizations that don’t stand to profit, seem limited, at least to me. If the current financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that greedy corporations can’t be trusted to govern themselves to manage investments in a responsible manner to ensure long-term economic growth, preferring the allure of quick profit.

    I would think that savvy investors would understand this by now and I think that some of them are actually starting to come around. Surprise: taxes are an investment! If you want to feel safe walking down the street, then let the government spend some of your taxes to fund education and the police. If you want a happier, more productive American workforce, let’s ensure that Social Security will be around when those putting in now are old enough to one day collect from it. In other words, let’s invest.

    My main point here is that although I understand the counterargument, let’s be reasonable. There’s a ten trillion dollar debt, forty million people have no health care, and various other programs are in dire need of public funds. Maybe it should be done more efficiently on the state and local rather than federal level, and if you believe that then fine. But if you seriously want to argue that the government has no right to raise taxes on money earned, then you need to take a harder look at what kind of country you want to live in.

    If you truly wish to live in a nation with no taxes, no business regulations, and no security, then move to a banana republic, open a factory and buy armed guards to secure your gates and escort your stretch Hummer around town. Otherwise, try opening up your pockets and your minds, and remember that especially in this economy, that it’s as easy to go from rags to riches as it is from riches to rags.

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