When I read her columns, often I think that she’s oversimplifying, or just plain wrong. Granted, she’s usually right, but her answers don’t exactly make me jump up out of my chair and say “OMG she is the smartest person ever!”. Often my reaction is “meh. I could have given a better answer than that one.”
Specifically on the tax issue, she has her own perspective and she (apparently) doesn’t want to consider the validity of other perspectives. It comes down to what you think is the way things SHOULD be.
I’ve heard income tax compared to a bunch of men going to a restaurant and splitting the bill for the meal in some rather strange way, like there’s 10 men who all ate the same meal and the total bill is $100 but five of them pay nothing and four of them pay $8 and the 10th man has to pay $68 blah blah blah. But the person who wrote this little drama is assuming right from the start that progressive taxation is unfair and they created this narrative to illustrate their point. I could just as easily create a narrative which proves the exact opposite, like in my story it wouldn’t be 10 adult men, it would be two infants, a teenager, a paraplegic veteran in a wheelchair, a pregnant woman who just lost her job, a middle-aged husband and wife who are both school teachers, a retired couple, and a recent college graduate who has never had a job but just inherited $80,000,000 when his rich uncle died. Now tell me if you think it’s totally fair that the infants should have to pay for their own meals. Or the vet. Or if they can’t pay, tell me you think they shouldn’t be allowed to eat. Do you think it would be fair to ask the rich guy to pay most of the bill? What if I told you that all 10 people are members of the same family, would that change your answer?
If you ask me, it is totally fair to let people who are struggling pay very little and people who have more than they need pay a lot. And given that the one-percenters control such a huge fraction of the money, it only makes sense that they would end up paying a huge fraction of the taxes. If you asked me “Is it true that the rich pay very little tax?” I would answer “That depends on your definition of ‘very little’. If ‘very little’ means a smaller total than what the average person pays, then no. If ‘very little’ means a smaller fraction of their income than what the average person pays, then maybe. If ‘very little’ means an amount so small that it is not a hardship for them to pay it and losing that money has no effect on their standard of living, then yes it’s true, the rich pay very little tax.”
I like my answer better than Marilyn’s. At least I admit that there’s more than one way to look at the question.