Indiana Daily Student

Laugh it up, Lenin

This past weekend, I did two important things: study for a biochemistry exam and fill out my taxes. And let me tell you, biochemistry is far less ambiguous, complicated and frustrating than the tax code, so much so that I'd choose reviewing RNA-polymerase catalysis over number-crunching any day, even to get a refund.\nI have a nagging suspicion that Vladimir Lenin is in hell having a good laugh that the United States, the land of economic opportunity, has this Byzantine progressive tax code, one of whose goals is income redistribution.\nBut is this what taxes were designed to do?\nThe Constitution grants the federal government power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States."\nHowever, the "general welfare" clause was not seen to amount to income redistribution. \nThomas Jefferson wrote: "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father has acquired too much, in order to spare to others who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, 'to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.'"\nThe tax on income was briefly instated in 1862 to cover the costs of the Civil War, and in 1894, the government issued a flat tax on all incomes -- which the Supreme Court promptly struck down. To get around this, the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1916, and a progressive income tax from 1 to 7 percent went into effect.\nWith the Social Security Act of 1935, the Medicare Act of 1965 and other welfare programs of the Great Society, the revenue collected from income went increasingly toward wealth redistribution programs, many of which the Reagan tax cuts of 1981 curbed.\nAccording to an article in the Free Republic, the top 10 percent of incomes currentpay 68.2 percent of all federal income revenue -- and the top 1 percent pays 35.9 percent, though this bracket only reports 17.2 percent of its total income.\nYet those forced to provide the most money for the government have no more votes than those making less than $20,000, who pay no taxes.\nI'm with Jefferson on this one: Why penalize those who earned, or whose family earned, money and the privileges that come with it? So, apparently, is Steve Forbes, whose book "Flat Tax Revolution" suggests that a flat 17 percent income tax and a regressive Social Security tax are not only fair, but eliminate most of the difficulty in filing taxes and make it harder for the rich to conceal income.\nAs a penniless collegian in the "dirt poor" bracket right now, I do think full-time students should be exempt, but overall, the idea of a flat tax is a good one. "Equality under the law" does not mean undue burdens on the wealthy any more than it means oppression of the poor.\nIncome taxation is constitutionally delegated authority for the government to seize the profits each citizen makes through his or her labors in order to support itself. This is a job the government should do equitably, especially considering men opposed to unjust taxes founded this nation.

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