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The definition of what is "fair"

Whenever politicians use words like "it's only fair," you need to automatically grab your wallet, because they are planning to take money from one person in order to buy the vote of others. Taxes should be based on very simple and objective measures, and calibrated so as to influence economic decisions as little as possible. That usually means that tax rates should be as low and as flat as possible, with few if any deductions, otherwise they create distortions, inefficiencies, and perverse outcomes. Unfortunately, our current tax system is extremely progressive and riddled with exemptions and loopholes—all in the name of fairness—rendering it extremely "unfair" to many, especially to those who can't afford to pay lobbyists to look after their interests. In his op-ed in yesterday's WSJ, the always-excellent Steve Moore poses "A Fairness Quiz for the President" which merits wide distribution, because he lays bare the inequities that have accumulated in our economy that are unfair to so many of our citizens. Here are some excerpts, but do read the whole thing and pass it along:

Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax?
Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country's income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?
Is it fair that American corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cuts its rate on April 1?
Is it fair that the three counties with America's highest median family income just happen to be located in the Washington, D.C., metro area?
Is it fair that soon almost half the federal budget will take income from young working people and redistribute it to old non-working people, even though those over age 65 are already among the wealthiest Americans?
Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes, while the oil and gas industry—which provides at least 10 times as much energy—pays tens of billions of dollars of taxes while the president complains that it is "subsidized"?
Is it fair that in 27 states workers can be compelled to join a union in order to keep their jobs?

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