The Instigator
HandsOff
Pro (for)
Losing
36 Points
The Contender
DreamingBearcat
Con (against)
Winning
47 Points

Wealthy people are a minority in the U.S. and deserve protection from unfair discrimination.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,224 times Debate No: 4378
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (21)

 

HandsOff

Pro

It is wrong for the majority to single out a minority and treat them differently than the rest of society. We have rightly put all sorts of anti-discrimination legislation in place to ensure that minorities are treated equally as well as the rest of us. Unfortunately the crusade to ensure fairness ends abruptly when it comes to those the government considers affluent. They are taxed at a higher percentage then their fellow Americans and are constantly exploited as a source to pay for the mismanagement of our country's finances. Is discrimination really okay as long as it can be argued that the subjects of discrimination are able to tolerate it?

As of yet no one has been successful in coming to their defense, or reconciling the blatant inconsistency in turning a blind eye to some types of discrimination and not others. Will the most productive of our society ever receive equal treatment under the law? They will most certainly always be in the minority. Will anyone be able to save them from the money-grubbing majority?
DreamingBearcat

Con

The purpose of anti-discrimination laws is not to prevent discrimination against all minorities: after all, it is perfectly rational to refuse to hire a convicted pedophile to run a day care center. Instead, they are designed to prevent discrimination against groups that have historically been mistreated or discriminated against and whom there is no reason to treat differently. In legal terms, a law that singles out a "suspect group" that has been historically disadvantaged is subjected to "strict scrutiny," and must serve a "compelling state interest." Let's examine each of these components individually.

First, do wealthy people compose a suspect group? It is true that they are a minority in the U.S., but then, so are white males, who have most certainly not been been targeted for discrimination, harassment, or bigotry. In fact, we see a strong bias--in laws and in culture--for the wealthy. Note, for example, the extreme value we place on wealth, and the status we give to the wealthy, regardless of their contributions to society. Note also the de facto legal privileges that are given to the wealthy: the ability to hire high-power lawyers to help them avoid prosecutions, law-suits, and taxes that ordinary Americans could never avoid, for instance. There is no way to argue that the wealthy are a "suspect group" deserving of protection.

Second, let us examine whether progressive taxes serve a compelling state interest. The government provides many essential services for which it relies on tax revenue. There is, therefore, a compelling state interest in collecting taxes. Since a progressive tax scale inflicts the least amount of suffering (especially on the poor) of any tax system, it is therefore the best.

Finally, indulge me as I establish a philosophical position. Wealth, in America, depends on laws. It depends on free public education, which provides an educated workforce; the system of laws that treats corporations as individuals, allowing them to enter into contracts; publicly financed roads and highways; publicly regulated airwaves; and the collective bargaining power of the U.S. government that helps to establish favorable trading conditions and tariffs. In short, the wealthy owe their success to the government. It is only fair and rational that they pay more to support the government. It is not discrimination.
Debate Round No. 1
HandsOff

Pro

"The purpose of anti-discrimination laws is not to prevent discrimination against all minorities: : after all, it is perfectly rational to refuse to hire a convicted pedophile to run a day care center."

Comparing the wealthy the pedophiles? Nice. The purpose of anti-discrimination laws are to make sure that ALL citizens are treated equally regardless of whether they are a minority or not. I only mention the rich are a minority to point out that they are defenseless against the will of the majority and will not be able to vote their way out of unfair taxation. They need our help.

"Instead, they (anti-discrimination laws) are designed to prevent discrimination against groups that have historically been mistreated or discriminated against and whom there is no reason to treat differently"

Wealthy people have historically been mistreated by being forced to pay higher tax rates than the rest of us, so I guess they qualify under that part of your claim. Also there is absolutely no moral justification (or reason as you say) to treat them differently. If they were taxed at the same rate as their fellow citizens their tax burdens would be proportionately commensurate with their incomes, and they would TRULY (to a mathemaical certainty) be paying their fair share of taxes.

Since it looks like I'll need to convince that an injustice has even occurred against the wealthy, let me appeal to your common sense (or at least that of the readers). Do you think it would be fair for each customer in a grocery store to pay a different percentage of sales tax (based on their incomes) when the clerk rings them up? Common sense tells you such a requirement would be absurdly unfair. You may find a way to argue that such a policy would indeed be fair, or that I have not used a good analogy. But in either case, I'm certain most readers would see that you were reaching.

"It is true that they (the wealthy) are a minority in the U.S., but then, so are white males, who have most certainly not been been targeted for discrimination, harassment, or bigotry."

What's your point? Regardless of whether white males are currently victims of discrimination, the law would come to their defense if such discrimination were to take place. American law should ensure that citizens are treated based on the content of their character and not the color of the their skin (or the size of their wallets).

Still, you have not made a good case for the unfair treatment of those with deeper pockets. Your defense for unfair treatement is that the rich can afford it and that there are some benefits to society. But that argument does not hold water. In almost all cases of discrimination, there is a beneficiary, and there are also victims of discrimination better equipped to tolerate it than others. Both are poor excuses for defending discrimination.

"Second, let us examine whether progressive taxes serve a compelling state interest."

Of course it serves a compelling state interest-- so did slavery. Again not a good enough reason to mistreat a group of people.

"In short, the wealthy owe their success to the government."

Most informed people would argue that the U.S. owes its success to wealthy capitalists. You may want to check into that one.

"It is only fair and rational that they pay more to support the government. It is not discrimination."

The rich don't need to be treated unfairly in order to pay more. That is where the percentage comes in handy. If we all paid the same percentage each of our tax burdens would be EQUALLY commensurate with our incomes. I have no problem with the rich paying their fair share, so please stop arguing in favor of the rich simply paying more taxes than the poor. You need to justify the unfair treatment resulting from progressive tax rates which require the rich to pay more than their fair share.
DreamingBearcat

Con

DreamingBearcat forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
HandsOff

Pro

Is there any defense for a progressive tax rate? If we all pay the same percentage the rich will always pay more for access to the same services to which those who pay less are entitled. So one could argue that that is not even fair. Not to mention that rich will rarely use those service.
DreamingBearcat

Con

First, I apologize for missing my second argument.

"I only mention the rich are a minority to point out that they are defenseless against the will of the majority and will not be able to vote their way out of unfair taxation. They need our help."

The rich may not be able to vote by themselves, but they are able to buy airtime (through commercials) and influence (through campaign contributions) that the less well-off cannot. Their power is therefore much greater than the average citizen's.

"Wealthy people have historically been mistreated by being forced to pay higher tax rates than the rest of us, so I guess they qualify under that part of your claim. Also there is absolutely no moral justification (or reason as you say) to treat them differently. If they were taxed at the same rate as their fellow citizens their tax burdens would be proportionately commensurate with their incomes, and they would TRULY (to a mathemaical certainty) be paying their fair share of taxes."

Progressive taxation has only been in place for the last 90 years. That hardly makes it "historical" when taxes have been around for thousands of years. Moreover, progressive taxation is not mistreatment. Because of the law of diminishing returns, a 10% tax harms someone with a $10,000/year income far more than it would someone with a $100,000/year income, despite the fact that the wealthier of the two pays ten times as much. Losing $1000 at $10,000/year may mean the difference between being able to pay for necessities or not, while $10,000 probably won't make as big of a difference for someone with $100,000/year.

"Do you think it would be fair for each customer in a grocery store to pay a different percentage of sales tax (based on their incomes) when the clerk rings them up?"

Actually, many people (including myself) have advocated against sales taxes because they cannot be adjusted according to income. Think about this: a family living just above the poverty line ($21,200 for a family of four) likely spends 100% of its income on necessities, and so a 10% sales tax will mean that they have to go without some of their necessities. This would not be the case if a progressive income tax were in place (which would tax them at a much lower rate). A wealthier family (say, $80,000) spends much less on their necessities, and so can afford to pay a higher percentage.

"Most informed people would argue that the U.S. owes its success to wealthy capitalists."

Actually, they wouldn't. It is certainly true that America has benefited from a capitalist system, but "wealthy capitalists" could never have made their money without:
-a military and police force to secure their rights
-a legal system that recognizes their right to incorporate
-favorable trade agreements
-public education
and so on.

"The rich don't need to be treated unfairly in order to pay more. That is where the percentage comes in handy. If we all paid the same percentage each of our tax burdens would be EQUALLY commensurate with our incomes."

Once again, I refer to the law of diminishing returns. The first $20,000 of a person's income is absolutely vital--the difference, sometimes, between life and death. The next $30,000 provides some comfort; the next $30,000 provides much less increase in quality of life, and the next $30,000 even less. To tax each person "equally"--that is, taking away a comparable amount of comfort, the wealthy must be taxed at a higher rate.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Your final argument was one of the most logical I've heard in defense of progressive taxes. I only wish I could have resonded. Thanks for the debate.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
"...communism is inefficient and capitalism is unfair and inefficient."

Sorry for the lift, but the reason communism is unfair is no different from the reason most liberal ideas are unfair.
If I were a liberal, I would admit that my ideas were unfair, but that I deemed them necessary. I have no problem with honest liberals. At that point we only differ on matters of the heart-- which are beyond the realm of debate.
Posted by DreamingBearcat 8 years ago
DreamingBearcat
Yeah, I'm actually pretty surprised. Sorry about missing that round.

Both of your statement/questions are accurate, though I wouldn't say that it necessarily leads to people paying different pre-tax prices. Simple supply and demand is efficient for most things, just not all.

I don't know that all liberals would be communists if they were more consistent, but I would. The problem is that consistency is impractical because communism is inefficient and capitalism is unfair and inefficient. Also, communism would require a centralized authority with more power than the U.S. government, which would be practically impossible without inviting Stalinesque abuses. The closest we can get is a representative democracy with nationalized or partially nationalized necessities: medicine, housing, energy, food, security, etc. Oversight (and regular elections) can reduce abuses and inefficiency, as in Sweden, Denmark, and other more socialist countries.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
So your argument (on diminishing returns) is that taxes should cause equal harm in order to be fair? And you would like to see sales taxes abolished or turned into progressive sales taxes if there were an efficient way to do so? Taking this to its logical ends, you would probably have people pay different prices for merchandise and commodities depending on their incomes. At least you're consistent. I've always said that if liberals were just a bit more consistent, they'd be communists. I might use that as a debate resolution. It seems like a logical truism at first glance.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Wow. Pretty good voting numbers considering you forfeited a round.
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