The Tail Is Wagging The Dog

Ari Fleischer (yes, that Ari Fleischer, formerly of the White House) had a scary opinion piece in yesterday’s WSJ (subscription required). In it he dissects the breakdown of who is paying taxes and who is not. The scary bit is that 60% of US households now apparently pay no taxes. Nada. 40% of the US households pay all of the taxes.

If this doesn’t make you shudder, it should. Mr. Fleischer puts it well:

If, as now happens, 60% of the people in our democracy can force 40% to pay the bills, what’s to stop 65% from making 35% pay it all? Since no one wants to pay taxes, what’s to stop 90% of people in a democracy from making 10% pay it all? Or why not let 99% of the country off the hook, as long as the remaining 1% picks up the tab?

While you can argue that his pitch here is reductio ad absurdum, the point is rational and valid. When will the minority become too small to be stable? When will the minority decide they’re not going to take it anymore? How fragile an economy does the country want to build for the long-term?


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  2. Dave Adams

    This was the first year in 5 that I had to pay any taxes to the Feds, and it was only about $100 we paid this year. Of course, being home-owning, child-rearing, starving students helped us be tax avoiders, but now that the wife had to complete her phD and actually start making money, we may actually have to join that minority that pays.

  3. Shawn

    CLARIFICATION: I mis-typed in my post. 40% of the taxpayers pay 99.1% of the taxes (effectively, 100%). It’s not 40% of the households. My mistake.

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