Monthly Proposal No.9: increase taxes on fuel and invest in public transportation

Maybe this proposal seems rather overused and boring as it was already stated in several ways by several green politicians. Additionally, some maybe will judge it as naïve and economically harmful, because it could negatively affect workplaces within industries depending on fuel and similar input. Ultimately, some even will call it unfair, because in the short-term it directly affects hard working people who seemingly have no choice but to commute by car.

However, commuting by car every day just because one prefers a cheap, quiet or just habitual domicile in the periphery is not fair either. Additionally, believing that the rest of us can and will accept environmentally harmful economic activities is naïve too and making money because the government did not found a way to internalize external costs yet even is inefficient. Ultimately, that it is necessary to repeat a simple and in the long run inevitable proposal is rather sad than boring.

Of course, the extension of the public transportation system has to be provided first and it will be costly. However, ignoring the problem and hiding from politically uncomfortable and unpopular decisions will cost us all even more.

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Monthly Proposal No.6: levy taxes on heritage for the sake of meritocracy

It is written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. But the subjective value of these rights depends on the possibility to use and appreciate them.

Not only but especially in capitalism the right to own and consume therefor depends on personal income and wealth. Still people seem to prefer a slightly unequal distribution of income and wealth and even seem to accept a very unequal distribution as long as they are able to believe that it is caused just by different effort and merit. However, I claim that people do not accept the status quo. They just temporarily tolerate it because of their systemic dependency. They know that the income distribution is not an outcome of perfect markets. And no one can explain the distribution of wealth by effort and merit.

The most obvious way to gain wealth without any own effort is heritage. It is no merit to be born into a rich family. It is even hard to justify, why a children should be born equal in rights but unequal in the possibilities to use them. So there has to be found a compromise. Even if it is a human instinct to care for ones relatives and even to bequeath them, the extent of heritage should not be allowed to challenge meritocracy.

So not only egalitarian but also whoever wants to plead capitalism as a meritocratic system should care about the decreasing tolerance for unequal distributions. That implies he or she should be interested in re-establishing the at least the credence that a minimum of meritocracy still exists and levy taxes on heritage.

Monthly Proposal, No.1: charge consumption instead of income

I’ve chosen to start with this topic, because even right after the election several parties still talk about the necessity of a tax reform in favour of the tax payer. Maybe they expect every tax payer to cheer up on that. But even if we ignore the so called debt crisis for a moment, a promise like this one still leaves crucial questions. What can be understood by a tax reform in favour of the tax payer? The easy and myopic answer could be: a tax reduction. But then we still need to know who this favoured tax payer is. And it is clearly not a homogenous everybody, because we individually pay different taxes in different heights. In this sense every serious politician would honestly tell us which voter is overreached and who is getting discriminated in comparison to the status quo. Such concrete information can of course not be found on posters during the election. And the announcement of a flat tax on income in favour of hard working people shows us that they either not know what the word “favour” means, or what a flat tax ceteris paribus would imply for the relative tax burden of “hard working” people. So I rather focus on declaring my own proposal:

I want affordability for the necessities for living at the expense of unnecessary comfort and wealth. That means I do not hesitate to admit that in return to the relief for poor and sparing households I have to tax wastefulness, abundance and excessive luxury. One way to do that is to charge individual consumption instead of income. And this is only one of the reasons why I want a big scale reform towards a direct progressive expenditure tax.

Another reason is that by charging just the purchase of consumables we would expect savings to rise. If these savings are used for investments this should imply economic growth. Of course such investments have to be correspondingly triggered but the first impression leads to the thought that the individual decision process is nudged in a sustainable direction.

In this sense also other forward-looking expenditure for like family, health or education should get even more attractive because they would reduce and avoid taxes. Thereby people could still decide day by day which lifestyle is worth the corresponding burden and are not principally charged for being productive or having a well-paid job.

This raises the topic of another advantage which would be the non-existing discrimination of production factors. It would be irrelevant whether the income is earned out of labour or capital. Once more: Instead of charging the source we would focus on the use. And latter seems to be a pretty good base to estimate what a person is able to give as well as obviously taking from society. So tax it!