Fine, I’ll tell Tyler how much money he deserves to keep.

At the last Republican debate, 17-year old Tyler Hinsley asked a question for the ages:

…out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?

Jon Huntsman bypassed the question for rehearsed talking points. But the query is going national, which is awesome.  Radio DJs put the question to a Democratic Congresswoman.  Her reflexive answer was hilarious: 

What is really your question here?

Ha ha!  See why I can’t interact with leftists?  Their honest answer, which can never be said, is:  “whatever we allow you”. 

On the other hand, conservative and Tea Party groups aren’t giving Mr. Tyler specifics either.  The author’s response in the Spectator article was,

“You deserve to keep every cent that you earn. The government is only entitled to collect in taxes what it needs to perform its legitimate functions as specified in the Constitution.”

Nice!  But also incomplete and parochial.  Hinsley’s question is philosophical and universal, and practical and Tyler-centric. 

How much does anyone deserve to keep? 

My gut instantly answers “between 0% and 100%, inclusive”.  So now my OCD wants to punch my gut in the stomach.  Well, politics aside, it’s a fascinating question.

My principle is the opposite of Schakowsky’s:   Tyler deserves to keep as much as civilization can allow him.  But societies vary.  So here is the full spectrum of “just desserts”, from kit-and-kaboodle down to zilch nada.  You deserve:

100% – (theft by monkeys)

You’ve washed up on Gilligan’s Island right after the zany cast escaped.  You are your society.  How much wealth do you deserve?  Whatever you can wrest from Mother Nature.  (NOTE:  Gaea is both subtle and brazen, wily and moronic, beautiful and terrifying, and she will collect a 100% estate tax from you.)

100% – (your conscience)

You and your family are the Platonic ideal of homesteaders, with other idealized homesteaders in reach.  No one makes demands of anyone else, but compassion is not unknown.  (NOTE:  I don’t know what the hell you are…but you sure ain’t human.)

That takes care of “non-societies”.  Now we’ll assume you’re a citizen who  acknowledges responsibilities along with claiming rights.  Thus:

90% : 

You live in the best possible government, an enlightened monarchy.  You’re free to leave, but why would you?  Your monarch’s legendary wisdom and compassion inspires the realm.  Almost all taxes go to defending society from rapacious neighbors and predatory citizens, and mediating civil disputes.  (NOTE:  A foolish and evil monarchy is as bad as yours is good.  So your ruler must invariably have wise and loving descendants.  P.S.–you’re not human, either.)

Which brings us to utopian America. 

90% – (state and local government)

Lucky dog!  You’re not just an American, you live in the Platonic version.  You’re always free to leave, but only idiots will.  Federal taxes are for the same things as an enlightened monarchy.  (NOTE:  The 10% tax rate is an average, not an institution.  Usually it would be less than 10%, but would skyrocket in times of war.) 

85% :

My personal line in the sand.  I never knew it until now, pondering Tyler’s inspired question.  Libertarians may raise eyebrows at the “generosity”, which is actually just my terrible haggling.  I’d gladly give the government a gratuity if it would serve us in silence.  (NOTE:  I know it can’t work that way.)   

Statists scream “anarchy” at 15% government.  It may even seem low to you.  But I oppose “government entitlements” in every way, shape, and form.  They are both oxymoronic and a blight on humanity.  Governments offer grants and deductions for things like education and home ownership.  Why?  Because we know that subsidizing something produces more of it.  BUT WE SIMULTANEOUSLY subsidize poverty and single motherhood! 

WTF: When Thinking Fails.  How well does this schizophrenia work?  Just look around. 

So note that my 15% tax rate means social safety net not included.  So the true rate of what I deserve to keep is:

85% – (my conscience):  

And the self-tax should be about twice that 15% government rate.  It is not where it should be, to my shame.  And if my taxes ever were slashed to 15% but alms-giving didn’t vastly increase, I would be a horribly selfish person and a terrible U.S. citizen.

Which brings us to Tyler.  (I include the non-mandatory “conscience tax” because I hope he has a happy, productive, and serene life.)  Tyler, here are your just desserts:

 90% – (state and local government + your conscience)

You deserve everything you earn, minus ten percent federal tax.  Then minus state and local taxes, appropriate to where you choose to live on the liberty/socialism axis.  Finally, minus whatever your conscience demands.  Abundant evidence suggests that the greater this final tax, the happier you’ll be.

(BTW, Tyler, ever notice how desperately unhappy progressives are?)

So, non-federal taxes could range from 0 to 90%.  People have different tolerances for sacrificing liberty for security, and vice versa.  It’s a spectrum.  Just find like-minded people and move to their neighborhood, or invite them to yours.

We started with examples of people deserving every bit of their earnings.  We’ll end with those who “deserve” none of them.  In fact, I’m only aware of these two.  And boy, are they are opposite examples of humanity.  

0% : You are a Shaking Quaker.  You are industrious, inventive, honest, humble, compassionate, and self-sacrificing.  


0%You are Michael Moore.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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25 Responses to Fine, I’ll tell Tyler how much money he deserves to keep.

  1. MG says:

    I disagree.

    He deserves, as all men do, the totality of the fruits of his labor.

    The Government, ‘deserves’ only so much as those real and effectual services it provides to its citizens and which it properly manages. In other words: it ‘deserves’ what it proves competent and able to handle. If that’s a bag of manure…so be it.

    The relation between government and the people needs to be redefined. The era has changed.

    • Mountainbear says:

      I agree. The government, for example, can make a reasonable sales tax (reasonable, not up to 20% VAT like here, plus additional taxes on some products like fuel (more than 50% of the fuel price in Austria are actual taxes) or coffee (in Germany)), but they should keep their grubby fingers off my pay check.

      I also agree on what the government “deserves”. Last year I had some external shutters installed. The company I ordered them from also installed them. It wasn’t particularly cheap, but it was good work and I have no problems paying for that. If the government would operate on the same level, sure, I might be willing to pay. But they’re not. If any company was run like a government, they’d be out of business in 24 hours.

      • MG says:

        Not to mention that Europe still has income taxes on top.
        With specific limits in place a VAT seems like it could be an effective tax model; but it needs to not have income taxes too and not have gouging rates…

        On the other, I really think that’s one of the missing points; if the government is using the people’s money effectively and wisely, few of the people complain, and that’s fine.
        The hard part seems to be people accepting that the government is not, as the old theories try and imagine, automatically entitled to taxes (or as some posit, the correct and true recipient of all income).

      • wormme says:

        Monopolies are like monarchies, always trending toward the worse.

    • wormme says:

      Hmm, I doubt we have much disagreement on real world issues, but I tried to start from the philosophical basis. Agreeing to be part of a society means certain sacrifices to go along with the benefits.

      Personally, I hate even using words like “deserves” or “rights” with respect to government, which seems to equate it’s worth to human beings. Governments are abstract tools, they have no more “worth” than a ball-peen hammer. I don’t believe governments have any more rights than my toaster. If I had a toaster.

      • MG says:

        That’s part of my philosophical point at the end though. Traditionally, there were these ‘required’ parts of being part of a society; but, why not require the state to act a certain way to have access to those things? The state’s power comes from the people, why does that have to translate, philosophically, into the state having automatic rights that function against the people?
        So, let’s imagine a Constitutional metric, which says if the state wanders this way they get money like this, but, if they wander that way they get far less, maybe none.
        The state needs to be made to comply with the social contract it wants the people subjected to.

        And I agree, certain words carry heavy weights; they also over-value and position something not deserving of its place.

  2. Mountainbear says:

    Flat tax. The government must learn to make do with what it gets from Us The People.

    We all have to make do with what we make every single day. I’ve learned from my parents that debt is nothing good. If you make 2k per month you can’t spend 4k per month. Common sense.

    Oh wait, common sense has been outlawed.

    • wormme says:

      I still slightly favor a flat tax with one sole, universal deduction. That deduction would do absolutely no harm to market forces, and would make the code both completely fair and (very very very very) slightly progressive. It’s such a neat trick I can’t get over it.

      • MG says:

        IMO, there shouldn’t be a need for a deduction on a flat tax…if the rate is set right.

        Also, remember, percents are progressive by nature!

        Assuming 10%, a person with 1k in income to tax would pay 100, a person with 1mil in income would pay 100k.
        That’s 100,000% higher than his peer at 1k total income! (1000 times as much!)
        But it’s fair since it’s 10% for both.

        That’s an accurate, though unpopular, way to look at it.

  3. Mountainbear says:

    “You live in the best possible government, an enlightened monarchy.”

    Wrong. You mean of course a penguinist theorcacy.

  4. midwest bill says:

    I doubt pure sweet Tyler is actually honest … it wasn’t his question … but still a good one.

    The question is .. I collected this much, how much of what I collected was from my service, and how much was from a structure that supported what I provided. That might include education for his workers, wars to keep poor Tyler from being sold into servitude, and police to keep his wife from being raped, etc.

    But what we have now is everything being taxed at every action, so the real profits are sucked up by lawyers that make laws with the purpose of making Tyler pay for worthless layers of bureaucracy (the lawyers). And then politicians sell favors and pick winners, so solar companies that donate get a half billion of white powder to blow, and Gibson guitar gets an FBI hot wired plug up their ass, for not sucking environmentalist mafia dick hard enough.

    Perry is going hard core on the “Christian principles” … maybe he could have said religious principle .. whether Christian or Jewish or whatever fair minded Spock religion you prefer …

    Tyler didn’t earn that money in a vacuum … and he should maybe be sent to a diamond mine in south Africa to ask that question … what are you really earning Tyler, deep in that mine?

    I’m afraid we have to be willing to die and/or make others die … for what is “RIGHT”. The elite think the diamond miners deserve shit … and Tyler in that mine can keep and eat 100% of his shit. The elite just want 100% of the diamonds they have “earned”.

  5. midwest bill says:

    sorry MB .. Spock religion OR penguin religion …. don’t sue me for leaving the penguins out.

    • Mountainbear says:

      We don’t sue.

      We just go holy war on you.

      • Xpat says:

        Literally LOL

      • midwest bill says:

        all wars are holy, for the winner penguin king, unholy for losers and fighters

        long live saint penguin

        • Mountainbear says:

          Great holy armies shall be gathered and trained to fight all who embrace evil. In the name of the Q’uin, ships shall be built to carry the warriors out among the stars and we will spread The Word to all the unbelievers. The power of the Q’uin will be felt far and wide and the wicked shall be vanquished.

          • Xpat says:

            Do penguins fight basset hounds, or are they on the same side?

          • Mountainbear says:

            They are on the same side of course.

            Penguinism has the One True Trinity, but it is under the Great Penguin, praise his name, in the hierarchy. One True Trinity: the Penguin Spirit (glory be with him), the Mighty Basset Hound (power be with him) and the Rat of Doom (fear him, yes, FEAR HIM!), all, of course, under the supervision of the Great Penguin (praise his name).

  6. A discussion of “how much we deserve to keep” is perfect to highlight the libertarian (ie classical liberal) viewpoint. In the ideal republic, this question would be answered largely by a small level government, much like a home owners association.

    Alas, we have let the fed grow into leviathan. Given that federal bureaucratic reality, how much do we deserve to keep?

    As much as we can demand from this leviathan. How much is that? We’ll know the answer Nov. 12.

  7. Pingback: Oh, I accidentally solved a taxation problem… | World's Only Rational Man

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