If anyone ever knew, it might have been Wilbur. But Wilbur got caught chasing Fanne in the park late one night. Then, too, he died a long time ago. So, “What would Wilbur do?,” is not an option. Even if it were, Wilbur might not have even ever asked ‘how should it be’; only knew a lot about ‘how it is’. Elizabeth knows a lot. Maybe more. Smart as hell. Cares a lot. Could be a big help. Other than that, it’s slim pickens and tax cuts. Never was nor ever will be a better time to ask questions and find answers, “How should it be?”

Barack borrowed from Elizabeth when he said, “You didn’t build that.” Both were bang on. Taxes, in one form or another, fund all government services; and that’s a lot. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears – and taxes, have gone into the building of America. Taxes can also be a useful economic tool for other important government functions such as dampening inflation, reducing wealth and income disparity, and providing economic stimulus.

From the beginning, manufacturing has depended on infrastructure; infrastructure being synonymous with government services. Given this dependency, should taxes on production be seen as part of the cost of goods to be imposed at each step along the way;? Similarly, should a distribution system be asked to pay its share at each stage? Everyone benefits from infrastructure/government services. Manufacturing and distribution benefit a lot. The materials coming into the plant, the workers getting to and from work, the communications, the utilities, security, … . To some extent, all these things are government services.

Whether or not profitable, the production of goods places great demand on government goods and services. Why not assess taxes on the production of goods in proportion to the burden this production imposed on government goods and services? In that the goods could not be produced without the benefit of the government goods and services, aren’t these government goods and services a cost of goods? Whether or not profitable, the delivery of goods and services requires government goods and services. Why not tax the delivery vehicle per pound-mile?

A tax on profits would not fully address the demands on services, natural resources and the environment by production, by service providers. Failed enterprises could do more harm than successful ones. Further, if a tax on profit were imposed, management salaries might go very high, using up profits. Even if a tax on profit were to be applied to all points in the supply chain, it still would not assess payment according to the demands placed on services, resources, and the environment. For sure, almost no service enterprise would ever show a profit.

At the present time, most taxes are imposed at the end of the line; i.e., on us, the consumer. We pay income tax; all sorts of federal, state and local taxes are passed along to us via utility bills; and most states have a sales tax. Comcast pays the taxes it is assessed with our money when it should have been an expense, a cost of doing business; have come out of their profits. Our sales tax pays for things that should have been a cost of doing business to the provider. True, the consumer is the utilizer of the goods and services, but what of those who profited from the production and delivery of those goods and services; shouldn’t they bear their fair share of the tax burden? And, shouldn’t that come out of their income, not ours?

Given the humongous role consumption plays in global warming, should we consider a consumption tax? A tax assessed everyone in proportion to their consumption. The large family with enough income to buy what they want would both consume a lot and pay a lot. So, too, the wealthy with a lavish lifestyle. This seems somewhat appropriate in that the goods and services consumed are representative of all the demands their provision imposed on natural resources, and on the environment.

Should there be an environmental tax? If so, what would it look like?

Is a tax on income, “ how it should be done?” First, let’s define income as being the receipt of anything of value, be it a benefit; property; money; stock options, etc.; or appreciation in value (i.e., any increase in wealth is income). {Though they could be considered to be personal and societal wealth, or capital; education and training would not be taxable as income.}The person who exchanges their labor, skills, of expertise for a wage, salary, or fee earns that income. Something of value received other than in exchange for labor, skills, or expertise is unearned income.

Because of the input of labor for earned income, and the lack thereof for unearned income; unearned income should be taxed at a higher rate than earned income.

Low wage workers subsidize commerce, the economy. That subsidy made the Waltons and the Krocs very rich; amounted to a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. The Waltons and the Krocs are far from being isolated cases. Bill Gates’ fortune is premised on the hiring of H-IB programmers for half-price. Jeff Bezos paid his workers about half what they should have paid for their contribution and kept the difference. In a very real sense, low workers are paying an income tax by working for less that what they should be paid; for less than a living wage. They provide services for less than it should cost so that the consumer can afford groceries and enjoy inexpensive hamburgers. Obviously, there should be no income tax on low age workers, they paid at work. Their taxes should be paid by those who profited from their low wages, i.e., their employers. Many others pay some of their taxes with low wages. At the point where workers take out more from the economy than they put in would be a good place to start taxing their income.

The distinction between earned and unearned income is an important one that needs to be made for tax purposes. Today, the very wealthy make more off their wealth alone than they can possibly spend or give away. This positive feedback loop has contributed greatly to out of control, ever widening, wealth disparity. Skimming operations like hedge funds who contribute little if anything while taking out $trillions are worse. Taxes on such unearned incomes need to be steeply progressive.

At present, the Elons and Jeffs of the world take minimal salaries of less than $100k/yr, and pay little if any taxes on their wealth. Obviously, this is not how it should be.