Post Migrated Away to politics.stackexchange.com
2 add some actual philosophy
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Arguably both individuals are utilizing comparable quantities of public resources from local, State, and Federal governments (roads, education, police and military protection, etc.)

This is clearly untrue.

Someone who can afford to own a car makes use of the roads, while someone who cannot, does not. A trucking company, of course, will make far greater use than either of these individuals, and is presumably owned by an even more affluent person (or group of people).

The same can be said of education. In the United States, which you are asking about, education funding disproportionately benefits the more affluent members of society (compare the quality of a community collage to a private college, and then compare their tuition rates).

We can also observe that those with the most valuable possessions benefit the most from an active police force. Stealing from the poor is rather pointless.

The practical answer, however, is that these usages are difficult to quantify, so instead we turn to a more pragmatic approach: Tax based on what people can afford instead of what they use. This is a better approximation of usage than you might expect, because the most affluent are, by definition, producing the most wealth, and thus benefiting the most from various forms of infrastructure and the resulting economies of scale.

Taxing based on what people can afford also has the rather tautological advantage that people can (theoretically) afford to pay their taxes, which might not be universally true if taxes were evenly distributed in the fashion you propose, and still had to pay for all the same services. You could begin to inquire into the fairness of those individual services existing (or other services not existing), but I perceive that would be more a matter of politics than philosophy.

Now, is this "fair?" How do we define "fair?" I would define it as "ethically permissible", in this context. But now we have a problem: what system of ethics are we using? The two most popular systems, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, are both problematic since they don't distinguish permissible from obligatory (that is, they define things as either "you must do X" or "you must not do X," with no room for "you may do X."). Utilitarianism, however, does have the ability to answer questions of ethical preference ("Which of X and Y should we do, if we must do one of them?"), while Kantianism does not.

Under Utilitarianism, this system is unethical because it is not literally the best possible system. Neither is "everyone pays the same number of dollars," of course. But we can ask which system is ethically preferable if we are forced to choose one of them. In that contest, proportional taxation clearly wins because absolute taxation leads to the highly undesirable result that a lot of people cannot afford their taxes, and continue to be unable to afford their taxes because the debt piles up faster than what they are earning. This makes the whole system practically unsustainable, to the detriment of all members of society.

Under Kantianism, it's not clear to me how the categorical imperative interacts with taxation. Worse, Kantianism can't really compare these two systems, because it always gives black-and-white answers; either a system complies with the categorical imperative, or it does not.

I can, however, conclude that absolute taxation is at least as unethical as proportional taxation. Why? Because, for the reasons explained under Utilitarianism, it cannot be universalized without undoing itself.

Arguably both individuals are utilizing comparable quantities of public resources from local, State, and Federal governments (roads, education, police and military protection, etc.)

This is clearly untrue.

Someone who can afford to own a car makes use of the roads, while someone who cannot, does not. A trucking company, of course, will make far greater use than either of these individuals, and is presumably owned by an even more affluent person (or group of people).

The same can be said of education. In the United States, which you are asking about, education funding disproportionately benefits the more affluent members of society (compare the quality of a community collage to a private college, and then compare their tuition rates).

We can also observe that those with the most valuable possessions benefit the most from an active police force. Stealing from the poor is rather pointless.

The practical answer, however, is that these usages are difficult to quantify, so instead we turn to a more pragmatic approach: Tax based on what people can afford instead of what they use. This is a better approximation of usage than you might expect, because the most affluent are, by definition, producing the most wealth, and thus benefiting the most from various forms of infrastructure and the resulting economies of scale.

Taxing based on what people can afford also has the rather tautological advantage that people can (theoretically) afford to pay their taxes, which might not be universally true if taxes were evenly distributed in the fashion you propose, and still had to pay for all the same services. You could begin to inquire into the fairness of those individual services existing (or other services not existing), but I perceive that would be more a matter of politics than philosophy.

Arguably both individuals are utilizing comparable quantities of public resources from local, State, and Federal governments (roads, education, police and military protection, etc.)

This is clearly untrue.

Someone who can afford to own a car makes use of the roads, while someone who cannot, does not. A trucking company, of course, will make far greater use than either of these individuals, and is presumably owned by an even more affluent person (or group of people).

The same can be said of education. In the United States, which you are asking about, education funding disproportionately benefits the more affluent members of society (compare the quality of a community collage to a private college, and then compare their tuition rates).

We can also observe that those with the most valuable possessions benefit the most from an active police force. Stealing from the poor is rather pointless.

The practical answer, however, is that these usages are difficult to quantify, so instead we turn to a more pragmatic approach: Tax based on what people can afford instead of what they use. This is a better approximation of usage than you might expect, because the most affluent are, by definition, producing the most wealth, and thus benefiting the most from various forms of infrastructure and the resulting economies of scale.

Taxing based on what people can afford also has the rather tautological advantage that people can (theoretically) afford to pay their taxes, which might not be universally true if taxes were evenly distributed in the fashion you propose, and still had to pay for all the same services. You could begin to inquire into the fairness of those individual services existing (or other services not existing), but I perceive that would be more a matter of politics than philosophy.

Now, is this "fair?" How do we define "fair?" I would define it as "ethically permissible", in this context. But now we have a problem: what system of ethics are we using? The two most popular systems, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, are both problematic since they don't distinguish permissible from obligatory (that is, they define things as either "you must do X" or "you must not do X," with no room for "you may do X."). Utilitarianism, however, does have the ability to answer questions of ethical preference ("Which of X and Y should we do, if we must do one of them?"), while Kantianism does not.

Under Utilitarianism, this system is unethical because it is not literally the best possible system. Neither is "everyone pays the same number of dollars," of course. But we can ask which system is ethically preferable if we are forced to choose one of them. In that contest, proportional taxation clearly wins because absolute taxation leads to the highly undesirable result that a lot of people cannot afford their taxes, and continue to be unable to afford their taxes because the debt piles up faster than what they are earning. This makes the whole system practically unsustainable, to the detriment of all members of society.

Under Kantianism, it's not clear to me how the categorical imperative interacts with taxation. Worse, Kantianism can't really compare these two systems, because it always gives black-and-white answers; either a system complies with the categorical imperative, or it does not.

I can, however, conclude that absolute taxation is at least as unethical as proportional taxation. Why? Because, for the reasons explained under Utilitarianism, it cannot be universalized without undoing itself.

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Arguably both individuals are utilizing comparable quantities of public resources from local, State, and Federal governments (roads, education, police and military protection, etc.)

This is clearly untrue.

Someone who can afford to own a car makes use of the roads, while someone who cannot, does not. A trucking company, of course, will make far greater use than either of these individuals, and is presumably owned by an even more affluent person (or group of people).

The same can be said of education. In the United States, which you are asking about, education funding disproportionately benefits the more affluent members of society (compare the quality of a community collage to a private college, and then compare their tuition rates).

We can also observe that those with the most valuable possessions benefit the most from an active police force. Stealing from the poor is rather pointless.

The practical answer, however, is that these usages are difficult to quantify, so instead we turn to a more pragmatic approach: Tax based on what people can afford instead of what they use. This is a better approximation of usage than you might expect, because the most affluent are, by definition, producing the most wealth, and thus benefiting the most from various forms of infrastructure and the resulting economies of scale.

Taxing based on what people can afford also has the rather tautological advantage that people can (theoretically) afford to pay their taxes, which might not be universally true if taxes were evenly distributed in the fashion you propose, and still had to pay for all the same services. You could begin to inquire into the fairness of those individual services existing (or other services not existing), but I perceive that would be more a matter of politics than philosophy.