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Progressive Preference Essay

2678 words - 11 pages

Thousands of years ago, in ancient Athens, the city was relatively an intellectual bastion, they had civilization, they had government, they had theater, they had the arts, and they had sciences; they also had an absolute flat tax, everyone paid the same tax. If a citizen did not pay the tax, he or she would be sent outside the city which was likely a death sentence. For the vast majority of people, this tax was their greatest burden and caused terrible social problems. For centuries, ancient Athenians explored this issue and discovered a moral insight; economic gain is not possible without government and a civilized society. Wealth, whether in the form of property or a business, cannot exist in a state of anarchy because others can just steal it from the owner. The moral theory was since an individual could only become wealthy in a society with governmental protection and investment, the greater the economic gain one has achieved from living in society, the greater the duty to maintain the society through taxation. When the ancient Athenians invented taxation based on ability to pay, they invented democracy. Societies which are totalitarian, dictatorial, and feudal tend to have flat taxation on their citizens. Similarly to the plight of the ancient Athenians, Americans are faced with the choice of a flat and progressive taxation. Many of the republican party presidential candidates, along with many in Congress, state, and local government are attempting to persuade the electorate to regress our taxation to those of pre-democratic Athens. Americans must choose whether to abandon the crucial ability to pay tax principal or recognize the greater obligation of those who benefit the most from society to contribute the most, and should realize the Athenian principle of taxation. Americans need to be steadfast in supporting the system of taxation which has made the United States an economic juggernaut during the post world war two era. Progressive taxation is more effective than flat taxation.
In order to explore the issue of flat taxation compared to progressive taxation, some background knowledge is necessary for a more thorough understanding of the subject. The United States Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare. However, the Constitution does not specify the level or types of taxation which should be used to generate revenue for the United States government. Therefore, the specific types of taxation are left up to the congress; ultimately decided by the citizens. In 1913, the 16th amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified; allowing taxation based on income. Income taxation eventually became the principal source of revenue for the federal government. However, there are many types of taxes in use today which include income, sales, property, estate, inheritance, and excise taxes. Regardless of the...

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