Some economic musings. Don’t mind me. I hold this all pretty loosely. Thought experiment follows:
I drafted this a few months ago and wasn’t going to publish it, but in light of Trump’s tax dodging, and people’s response saying he’s just “keeping what he earned”, I figured I might as well hit the “publish” button.
In a world without any weapons, it’s easy to steal from someone who has lots of food/possessions. Non-human animals in nature work like that; if a squirrel has 1 billion acorns, they will be ceaselessly stolen until the point where the squirrel has only the acorns it can defend with its bare teeth. Let’s say, 100 or 1000 acorns. (Let’s call this scenario “Squirrels in Nature”)
How can the squirrel accumulate more acorns, then?
Weapons. The squirrel now has a spear. Or a bow an arrow. Or an AK-47. It can guard substantially more acorns now. Maybe ten thousand acorns. But still not a million or a billion. (let’s call this “Stone Age Squirrels”.)
Militia/guards. The squirrel hires his own troop of independently contracted guardsquirrels. On a good day, with his hefty posse, they protect his million acorns. But on a bad day, the captain of the guard stages a little coup, kills Bob the squirrel, and is the new (albeit probably temporary) owner of all the acorns. (Let’s call this “Feudal Squirrels”.)
Well-reputed militia/guard services. Bob the squirrel needs a guard service brand he can trust — one reputed to prevent this type of coup. An armed organization so large that it has more to gain by building a reputation of faithfully guarding acorn piles than it could ever gain by stealing them. So large, perhaps, that competing military entities are thousands of miles away, and unlikely to ever overrun and plunder the territory of his own. His ten million acorns are very safe. (Let’s call this “Imperial Squirrels”.)
Business is the means whereby acorns are accumulated.
Government is the means whereby they are guarded for whoever has accumulated them.
Some people think that governments “play robin hood” by taxing its rich constituents and creating services for all its constituents.
Here’s what I’ll say to that:
If government were to “get out of your life”, you would be a lonely squirrel with bare teeth, or maybe an AK47.
You would be terrified.
To defend yourself better, you would perhaps form a pact with your neighborsquirrels to protect each other, so that you were not SO lonely of a squirrel. You might agree to how that protection would work, what support was required of the constituents, etc. Guess what you just created. Yup … Government. A cooperatively owned and governed guard service.
A reason the wealthy pay more in taxes [OR SHOULD, AT LEAST!] is because they have the most to benefit from a guard service. If there were no conglomerations of martial power, I could guard my little house with my spear or AK-47 well enough to de-incentivize any individual thief from breaking and entering. But your real-estate, manufacturing, or technology megacorp? It needs so much protection that if somebody halfway across the country or world conquers your hotel or factory or even takes your ideas or information, you’ll be covered.
That is, perhaps, why the population gets real mad when you think you should pay a flat tax. [or when you completely dodge taxes!] 95% of your assets would need police forces to protect them from individual thieves, whereas maybe only 10% of mine (macbook, car, bike) do.
At this point, the U.S. is serving as the Huge Guard Service for vast chunks of the world. Whether that’s a good thing or bad is outside of scope here… but you’d better believe that the fees paid to it (taxes, etc.) are [OR SHOULD BE] paid by the people who benefit most from the protection.