Redistribution of Wealth
I accept your debate challenge Pro!
R1: Excessive Taxation has Disadvantages
"It is a well-known historical fact of economics that, even when corporations are taxed at supposedly exorbitant rates (e.g., about 90% under FDR), American industry nevertheless thrives"
First, effective corporate income taxes haven't exceeded 50% . This exorbitant rate was also when the U.S. economy was a global behemoth, accounting for almost 1/3rd of global GDP .
Second, the extreme tax rates you are talking about applied to individuals, not corporations.
"realistically, nobody with a billion-dollar idea is going to forgo pursuit of it simply because, after all is said and done, all taxes are paid and debts are settled, s/he'll be left with "only" a paltry, say, $78,000,000"
Capitalism is fueled by the profit motive. Enterprises and individuals supply each other with goods and services because of the rewards provided by the market.
Individuals and enterprises take risks all the time. Profit is the payoff of sound risk management. If a large corporation or a taxpayer had to pay 90% of their income to the government, profitable ventures would be less likely to occur. The potential payoff would be significantly lower, which would encourage investors to direct their funds towards stable, blue-chip accounts. Consequently, awe-inspiring yet unproven ventures would suffer because the reward (say, 9% of the profit after your proposed taxes) would not justify the potential risks.
I'll lay out my basic arguments.
C1: High Taxes are Immoral
The market economy rewards enterprises and individuals with equivalent earnings.
When the government imposes excessive taxes, it is essentially robbing the individual of their earnings, and instead consuming the fruit of the man's labor for its selfish purposes.
A slight degree of taxation is indeed justified, but when a government decides to tax excessively, it robs its citizens of their livelihood, and therefore degrades a man of his dignity and his freedom.
C2: High Taxes are Shortsighted
The 21st century has an interdependent global economy. Capital (human, financial, physical) is highly movable.
Let's compare two nations, the United States and China. The U.S. has a corporate income tax of 35%, while China has a corporate income tax of 25% . A nation's corporate income tax rate heavily influences corporate headquarters location. If Apple moved its corporate headquarters to China, it would essentially get paid $4.7 billion by the Chinese government (let's call it a corporate tax refund) .
If the U.S. decides to impose sky-high taxes, individuals and corporations will leave our nation, depriving America of both tax revenues, human capital, and innovation.
Indeed, since 2012, over 21 U.S. companies have relocated their corporate headquarters outside of America .
America's personal income tax system has reached this point. However, California can provide a microsized example of what could happen -- more individuals are leaving this state than moving in .
Nations such as Great Britain and France are losing their most-talented workers because of their comparatively high income taxes .
I feel like my opponent won't respond, so I'll summarize my case with my arguments against redistribtion:
- High Taxes are Immoral
- High Taxes generate perverse incentives
- High Taxes encourage "Brain Drain"
- High Taxes suffocate Economic Growth
- High Taxes obstruct entrepreneurship and innovation
You yourself point out that, under FDR, individual tax rates for the uber wealthy were around 90%. Yet, a few sentences later, you warn that: "If a large corporation or ***a taxpayer*** had to pay 90% of their income to the government, profitable ventures would be less likely to occur" (emphasis mine). Obviously, the uber wealthy comprise taxpyers. Yet, under the last 8-10 years of the FDR administration, the American economy generally and new American enterprises in particular positively THRIVED! Now, how can that be if in fact, as you suggest, such exorbitant taxes on the rich (whether corporations or individuals) tend strongly to discourage profitable ventures? Was this period in American history simply an anomaly of sorts?
Moving on, now, to your numbered, more formal arguments:
C1: High Taxes Are Immoral.
"Equivalent earnings"? Equivalent to what, and how, exactly, is that equivalency measured?
You use the phrase "excessive taxes" without defining the word "excessive" as used in this context. Is 1% excessive? How about 2%? 5%? Who decides what constitutes excessive taxation, and upon what basis? Some would argue that ANY tax is unjustified in principle and therefore excessive, while most concede that at least some taxes in some amount are both morally acceptable and practically necessary for a free society to flourish. You seem to acknowledge as much when you admit, a line or two later, that "a slight degree of taxation is indeed justified." Okay, great. Now, define "slight." And justified how? You're making all sorts of assumptions here without clearly spelling them out or telling us the bases upon which they're supposed to plausibly rest. Please do so in your next entry.
Also, why do you say that, if a government overtaxes its citizens (whatever that comes to), it does so for "its [own] selfish purposes"? What if the government spent all of that revenue to build houses for the homeless or schools for the uneducated or hospitals for sick veterans of war? How could any of those purposes possibly, reasonably be described as "selfish"? I don't get it.
And as for this "robbery" concept, what's THAT all about? How is it that, say, a 7% tax might be perfectly warranted (by some standard or another) but a 7.1% tax would constitute robbery? How does a tax go from wholesome and proper to flat-out theft in the space of one-tenth of a percent? Absurd. But, if taxes are not inherently excessive and yet some level of taxation is tantamount to robbery, then that is precisely the case.
C2: High Taxes Are Shortsighted.
*Yawn.* Heard it all before. Empirical studies and known facts simply don't bear it out. And even if they did, let's consider a most relevant analogy.
Suppose you have eight kids playing in an oversized sandbox. The biggest kid currently possess 90% of the toys, much to the dismay of the other seven kids. When they complain about this and demand a more equal distribution of the toys, the big bully announces, "Fine, if you're going to insist on it, then I'll give some of my toys away. But if I have to do that, then I'll take the rest of my toys to another sandbox and play with a different group of kids, kids who won't be so insistent that I share my toys with them. And then you'll lose all the benefits of my being here, not the least of which is that I let you keep the other 10% of the toys, which are in fact the shiniest and most valuable toys in the whole wide world."
Clearly, nobody would regard the attitude of this de facto despot (read: Giant Corporation) as mature, reasonable, fair, decent, compassionate, or morally praiseworthy. On the contrary, we'd nearly all regard it as immature, unreasonable, unfair, indecent, selfish, and morally abhorrent. As downright bratty, petulant, petty, and crass, to be more specific. Likewise for a corporation which decides, essentially, to punish American workers and the economy as a whole by moving its operations to a "sandbox" friendlier to its executives' purely self-interested ambitions, their sheer, unadulterated, unapologetic avarice, even when it comes at the expense of decent wages for those without whom their brilliant ideas would be utterly worthless and cutting-edge products or services impossible to manufacture or provide.
Now for my own arguments:
I. Redstributing Wealth is a Moral Imperative.
I'll here simply quote a summary of Peter Singer's argument for wealth redistribution from his essay "Rich and Poor":
"suffering and death caused by lack of food, shelter, or medical care are bad
if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it
'Sacrifice' here means without causing anything else comparably bad to happen, or doing something that is wrong in itself, or failing to promote some moral good, comparable in significance to the bad thing that we can prevent
for example: if I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This may ruin my clothes but that would be insignificant while the death of the child would be very bad
we can reduce avoidable death and suffering by giving to famine relief etc. and the cost of doing so is a morally insignificant reduction in our standard of living
This argument applies both to immediate emergency famine relief and long term development aid.
therefore we ought to give to famine relief etc." 
It should be quite apparent how this argument could be tenably extended to wealth redistribution even within developed, relatively affluent nations such as the U.S. in which, despite their enormous concentrations of wealth in relation to poorer countries, there are nevertheless huge gaps in lifestyle, diet, access to quality affordable health care, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, happiness quotient, etc. between the rich and poor (i.e., those who make millions or even billions per year vs. those who make minuscule fractions of such sums per year, say $20-30,000/year).
Anticipating likely objections:
"Singer's argument is clear, and when you consider the drowning child example, pretty seductive.
But it does impose very high obligations on those of us who live in comparatively rich countries, and it may be just too demanding.
It limits our freedom to act
Singer demands that we must always make the morally best choice, nothing less will do.
This vastly reduces our freedom to make our own life choices as self-governing moral beings
It may require us to act against our best interests
It fails to recognise our own intrinsic moral value as persons
But perhaps we could impose limits to this - accepting that our own moral value means we should not sacrifice the interests of ourselves or those closest to us in order to aid others so long, of course, as we do not behave selfishly
It requires us not to favour those closest to us
It requires us not to favour other moral concerns we may have
i.e. not things that would benefit us, but other altruistic moral objectives we may want to fulfil
but then why should my moral concerns be more important than any others?
Singer adds 'neither our distance from a preventable evil nor the number of other people who, in respect to that evil, are in the same situation as we are, lessens our obligation to mitigate or prevent that evil.'
Should I treat people further away differently?
No: It makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbour's child ten yards from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousand miles away.
The fact that a person is physically near to us, so that we have personal contact with him, may make it more likely that we shall assist him, but this does not show that we ought to help him rather than another who happens to be further away.
But there are millions of other people who could help - so why should I?
One may feel less guilty about doing nothing if one can point to others, similarly placed, who have also done nothing. Yet this can make no real difference to our moral obligations.
For example: Am I am less obliged to pull the drowning child out of the pond if on looking around I see other people, no further away than I am, who have also noticed the child but are doing nothing?
Do people in rich nations have a duty to give to the poor?
The philosopher Thomas Pogge argues that there are two very clear reasons why they do:
Western colonisation and enslavement of poor countries is at least partly responsible for the conditions of the global poor
The conduct of richer nations imposes and supports unjust global structures and systems that harm the global poor when alternatives that would do less harm are possible
[Rich countries] enjoy crushing economic, political, and military dominance over a world in which effective enslavement and genocide continue unabated.
Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, 2008"
Having run out of space, I'll save my ancillary arguments for a later round, if such even prove necessary. The moral argument, outlined above, is by far and away the most important.
“FDR imposed tax rates of 90% and America’s economy was fine!” 
The post-World War II era was an irregular situation in world history. The United States was an economic superpower, producing 1/3rd of global output .
The major nations such as Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union – all were facing economic devastation. The United States had global economic hegemony, and the excessive tax rates – while harmful – were not painful enough to destroy America’s unique position.
Also, the revenue system was entrenched with tax loopholes, which significantly reduced the effective marginal tax rates on the wealthy .
Furthermore, your argument doesn’t consider the impact of factors such as tremendous post-war savings and investment , the GI Bill, the deregulation of product and factor markets, and the reduction of the federal debt.
So, you’re “post-WW2 argument” fails to hold water because:
(1) The USA lacked global economic competition
(2) Effective taxes were significantly lower
(3) The economy thrived from different factors
R1: High Taxes are Immoral
I utilized the terms “excessive” and “slight” simply as broad adjectives; I agree that how these adjectives are used is a subjective decision, but most people would agree that rates such as 90% would be “excessive”, while a rate of 5% would be “slight”.
The philosopher John Locke crafted a vision that the government’s singular function was to “protect people’s natural rights… those being the right to life, liberty, and property”. In fact, Locke’s philosophy was the foundation of the American government.
When the government taxes individuals and redistributes income to different individuals, it fits the definition of theft. The definition of theft is "the removal of property through force", and redistribution fails to improve the common good, and instead simply deprives some for the benefit of others.
Productivity and Wages
Each worker's wage is linked to their marginal productivity. An individual's marginal contribution to the value of output is reflected in the worker's wage. This theory is almost universally accepted by economists  .
Therefore, the market's income distribution is fair, because people receive "wages that equal the value of their contribution to the economy's output" .
When the government redistributes income, it is depriving taxpayers of their earnings -- effectively discouraging them from being productive workers -- and rewarding the less productive workers.
R2: High Taxes are Shortsighted
First, your arguments about the "giant corporation" have no evidence to substantiate your claims. Now I'll show why higher taxes are bad.
The President's Council of Economic Advisers have stated that every $1 in tax revenues corrodes the economy by $1.50, after including compliance costs .
The University of California in Berkeley provided empirical evidence that shows $1 in tax increases reduces the economy by $3 .
The National Bureau of Economic Research has provided large swaths of empirical data showing that "tax[es] [are] an obstacle to the growth of small businesses." Indeed, a 17% reduction in marginal tax rates was simulated to increase business size by 28% .
Furthermore, high-income taxpayers provide the savings and investment which fuels economic growth. The productive output the wealthy contribute fosters economic development... (1) their incomes spent on consumption generates demand that reverberates throughout the economy, (2) their savings are invested to grow small businesses (through financial securities), and (3) their funds which are invested through venture capitalism foster entrepreneurship, innovation, and R&D.
Therefore, higher taxes are shortsighted:
(1) Higher taxes will significantly reduce America's economy (GDP) and produce inefficiency
(2) Higher taxes will kill jobs and middle-class livelihoods
(3) Higher taxes will corrode entrepreneurship and small business growth
(4) Higher taxes will diminish America's global competitiveness
R3: Redistribution Distorts Incentives
Labor earnings are equivalent to their marginal productivity (see my first argument). The highly productive and skilled workers are paid well, while the uneducated are not.
The market pays people fairly because they receive what they contribute to the economy.
If we redistribute incomes, the whole system of incentives is altered. The government will discourage individuals from improving their education and from investing in innovative, new products. The government will instead encourage low productivity and idleness. Indeed, because income subsidies will fall as incomes rise, the payoff of higher wages will be shortcut. This is already the case, as implicit marginal tax rates (from welfare programs) sometimes make higher wages less advantageous.
This system of incentives is terribly unhealthy for both the economy and America's culture. The culture of hard work and thrift will be damaged, and consequently, the economy will become grossly inefficient. People will become dependent on different people's income (production), and a culture of idleness will envelop among a segment of low-income workers, who will see living off the taxpayer's back as a better alternative than low-income jobs.
R4: Low-Income Peoples
The accurate poverty rate is approximately 2% .
To be concise, material poverty "has been largely eradicated". Indeed, the bottom 5% of American citizens earn more than 95% of Indian citizens.
The United States economy provides vast opportunity for citizens to climb the income ladder and earn a comfortable living. As I showed earlier, typical high school graduates earn enough to sustain themselves. The type of material poverty you visualized only exists because of behavioral choices, and therefore is the result of individual choice, not society's err.
The market economy is the strongest engine for economic development and job growth in human history. A vibrant free market will generate the opportunities for all Americans to pursue their dreams and fulfill their livelihoods by earning an honest living, while also building a healthy economy. The pictures above also serve to validate this fact.
The value of total production equals the value of incomes received throughout an economy . Therefore, a healthy economy has growing productive capacity.
The growth in GDP is very dependent on private investment, the majority of which is supplied by the wealthy. Thus, the high-income Americans provide the investment capital which serves to increase real wages throughout the economy.
If we redistribute incomes away from the wealthy, this stream of funds will halt. Incomes will stagnate (contrary to popular beliefs, incomes have been rising with productivity, but employee benefits have supplanted earnings increases ).
This picture shows that the vast majority of income for low-income Americans are from earnings. If we destroy the investments which increase overall productivity levels, it could very well harm the poor, in the form of reduced capital levels.
The vast plethora of Americans have a choice of their future. Those who graduate "high school, [are] married, had no more than two children, and worked full time" have a trivial poverty rate of 1%" .
Therefore, people should be free to pursue their dreams and make their own decisions. That is the essence of freedom that forms the foundation of America itself. Redistribution of incomes has a wide array of consequences, and could very well increase poverty, due to the distortion of incentives.
So the consequences of redistribution include these:
(1) A significant reduction in America's economy
(2) A large increase in unemployment and industry underutilization
(3) A reduction in entrepreneurship, innovation, and R&D,
(4) A distortion of vital economic incentives and associated economic imbalance
(5) A shattering of U.S. global competitiveness
(6) A massive theft from the productive to the low-income classes
"The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be." - Lao-Tzu
 Gordon, John. An Empire of Wealth. 2004. 349-381. Print.
 Browning, Edgar. Stealing From Each Other. 2008. 4-9. Print.
 Economic Report of the President (2003), p.77.
sconifer forfeited this round.
sconifer forfeited this round.
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