Dynamic Taxation

In many areas, instead of prohibiting an activity and fining transgressors, we would do better leave many final decisions up to individuals by imposing, and varying, taxes according to the harm or good of the activity, including both manufacturing and distribution. This principle might well be applied to areas such as energy use, pollution, speed limits, drugs, population, gun control, and particularly, the ways in which the rich get richer.

Of course taxes on manufacturing would trickle down to the consumer. But there are always alternatives if you find the taxes too high. Use paper cups instead of styrofoam (which use ozone-depleting CFCs in their manufacture). Use other gasses than CFCs in air conditioners. Ride a bike instead of a car. Then the offending product will become less marketable. This inhibits manufacture and sale of the product, but leaves the final decision up to the individual manufacturer, distributer and consumer. It also produces revenue as long as the product is on the market. Once we've "broken the ice" by taxing a product specifically because they're harmful, (which comes to the same thing as subsidizing good products) it's easier to adjust the tax to an amount that best serves the purpose.

Some people say higher sales taxes, on gas for instance, as Jimmy Carter proposed, would unjustly tax the poor. This is true. But it's also true that any tax at all, and the economic system as a whole, is unjust to the poor. It should be dealt with throughout the system, rather than on each individual issue. We fail to adequately compensate for the basic law of evolution that says "The rich (rather than the most worthwhile or socially productive) get richer" which should be our first concern. But, for what it's worth, taxes can be funded into programs to help the poor, if we can find politicians who are really concerned about them, and if we can develop programs worth funding.

Send me your thoughts.
Dan Robinson, danrob@efn.org, Eugene, Oregon
My home page: http://www.efn.org/~danrob/