A New York state of mind

The New York Post reports that congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul would create a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for New York’s top earners. Myron Magnet also focuses on New York in an article on “The obsolete New York model.” Magnet notes:

It’s worth recalling that when the Founding Fathers led the American colonists in revolt against British oppression, they weren’t rebelling against torture on the rack or being chained in galleys or having to let aristocrats deflower their daughters. They were rebelling against taxes. To them, having to pay duties they hadn’t voted for themselves was a tyrannical taking of property–theft–and, in true Lockean fashion, they concluded that since government exists to protect life, liberty, and property, a regime that does the opposite renders itself illegitimate. What would they make, then, of today’s New York City, where 1.2 percent of the taxpayers–40,000 households–pay 50 percent of the income taxes, and half the households pay no income tax at all? If the tax code ensures that those who pay the bulk of the taxes are always a minority of those who vote for the legislature that imposes the taxes, isn’t that taxation without representation? Isn’t it also the tyranny of the majority that the Founders tried to prevent?

Magnet’s important article is consistent with the analysis that John Hinderaker and I brought to related issues in our essay “Broad ownership needs broad taxpaying.” I also revisited the issue last fall in the Christian Science Monitor column “Obama, Joe the plumber and the gospel of envy.” Key quote (Aristotle’s warning): “If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city.”

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