Saturday, February 21, 2009


A Contrary Thought about Taxes

The other day I heard a report on the news about a state legislator who argued that since many large corporations are laying off employees the state should do the same. I suppose that if the legislator were a member of the federal legislature he would argue that the federal government should also lay people off during recessions, just like other enterprises.

What on earth was he thinking? Unemployment is increasing during a recession because large corporations are laying off workers by the thousands. Governments should follow the trend and make unemployment even worse? Where are all of these unemployed workers going to find employment and wages to support themselves and their families? I guess this legislator thought that the unemployed workers could simply hibernate or live with their relatives until times got better and the recession turned into a boom.

This legislator was speaking in the context of whether to raise taxes. Unemployment causes additional problems for states. There's unemployment insurance, of course. There's welfare for people unable to find work when the unemployment insurance runs out. There are increased medical costs as unemployed workers turn to emergency rooms for needed medical care. And so it goes.

I tend to view the problem of unemployment as a societal problem. We have constructed a society in which unemployment seems to be a natural consequence of the way the economic system operates. We all have a responsibility to care for those less fortunate than those of us who still have jobs and good incomes. How is this caring to be done?

It can be done in a haphazard way by letting various religious and other charitable groups provide food and shelter for those who are out of work and money. This method doesn't apply the obligation to care for the unfortunate evenly. Only those of us who contribute money and labor to these charities bear the load of caring for the unfortunate. In addition, there aren't enough charities to take care of all the unemployed.

It can be done in a fair way, with each person who has a good income contributing a fair share. That means that government provides the food and shelter and the money comes from taxes. Using this argument, I assert that taxes on those still employed should be raised during a recession to pay for supporting the unemployed.

I know this argument will drive the legislator in question crazy.

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?