Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Efficient Income-ish Tax

My main problem with the income tax is not its "fairness", because we all have different understandings of what that word means. I don't like taxing income because it discourages something that is inherently good, work. Could you imagine putting extra taxes on green technology, healthy food, or charity? I do understand, though I may not agree with, people's desire for a more progressive tax system. Now if only there was a way to tax the rich at a higher rate without taxing them for being rich! Well according to economist Greg Mankiw, a 6-foot American earns $5,525 more a similar worker 7 inches shorter. Some possible explanations include self-esteem or better nutrition, but either way this could collect the needed tax dollars "fairly" without encouraging people to work less. Is taxing someone's height more absurd than taxing how much they work, how much they drive, or how much they smoke?


  1. Here's the difference: people can choose how much to work, drive, or smoke - in essence "choosing" how much they're going to pay in taxes. You definitely can't choose how tall you are. If you can, I'd like an upgrade please?

  2. Maybe that last question should have been more rhetorical than actual.

    But to say I "choose" how much I'm taxed is a little misleading. Trust me, I would do a way with plenty of government expenses to lower my tax rate.

  3. Right. Me too! And also, I still want to be taller. Sadly, that's just not how the world works.

    And yes. Working, driving, smoking are completely, 100% choices. You choose your work. You choose whether you own a car and how much you drive it. You choose whether you smoke. You choose to be a part of society. If you don't want to pay taxes, you can choose a lifestyle like this guy:

  4. Hold on. To quote you: "I don't like taxing income because it discourages something that is inherently good, work."

    I'll repeat that. You don't like taxing income because it DISCOURAGES SOMETHING THAT IS INHERENTLY GOOD, work.

    And you're OK with taxing height? What could be more inherently good?

  5. Even is height is inherently good, taxing hit won't actually decrease it. Unlike taxing work, savings or spending. Though I'm not surprised to see Ed opposed to the height tax.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.