Thursday, November 29, 2012

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, This Is How the French Do It

Angry taxpayer: "Bring it on!"
Uncle Sam: "You first."

Bill O’Reilly was in rare form last night. He and Dr. Hill (remember "Black Power!"?) were at it again, only this time the topic was the proposed wealth tax. Dr. Hill is for it, and O’Reilly is not. After listening to the two of them get into it, I think I’m siding with O’Reilly on this one.

So, what is a “wealth tax”? Well, a wealth tax is a tax assessed on an individual’s net worth. I’m a little uncomfortable with this notion. Income is one thing, but when the federal government starts wanting to know about, and tax me on, the value of my furniture, paintings, and jewelry, I’m thinking that things are getting a little invasive. Listen, if you’re lucky enough to have a trust fund and are drawing monies from it, then as far as I’m concerned that’s your income, and I don’t have a problem with you paying taxes on it. But when Uncle Same goes beyond income and starts looking at the value of what people have accumulated, which has already been taxed, I just don’t like it. My husband doesn’t even know what my jewelry is worth, and frankly I’d like to keep it that way!

Dr. Hill called the proposed wealth tax “exciting” and “innovative” and stated that it would make the country “even more democratic and fair,” because “the wrong people are paying taxes,” implying that the “right people” are those individuals with substantial wealth but not a lot of income per se. If these people were taxed on their wealth, Dr. Hill asserted, the tax burden on most Americans would be decreased. 

After a cordial start, the conversation quickly began to go South when Hill responded to O’Reilly’s invitation to “Tell me how your vision would evolve. How would this [wealth tax] be accomplished?” The next thing you know, those two were talking all over each other, debating whether federal agents would soon be unexpectedly dropping by folks’ homes to assess the value of their “swanky furniture” and gold cuff links. At one point, O’Reilly said, “So you’d have to submit [information to the federal government indicating] I’ve got six love seats, two big beds, four cars, and here’s what they’re worth?” They argued some more, and then, just when it looked like things might settle down, O’Reilly made his case that a wealth tax would violate the Constitutional ban on search and seizure, and he and Hill were off to the races again. Hill stated that O’Reilly “tends to misuse words” (O’Reilly’s nonverbal response to that charge was priceless), and the conversation ended with Hill saying that only “fat cats” like O’Reilly would pay more under a wealth tax, a net affect Hill declared would be “awesome.” Call me far too easily entertained, but I thought the entire segment was hilarious. Watch it yourself and decide.

(By the way, O’Reilly must have been good and irked, ‘cause during the next segment he really let loose on David Silverman, President of American Atheists, practically tearing him a new one.)

But, back to the tax debate. Since Hill offered up France as an example of a country that has successfully implemented a wealth tax, I thought I’d do a little digging. Apparently, the French are taxed on their wealth at the beginning of each new year, and included in the tax is the value of horses, jewelry, bonds, debts due to the taxpayer, and the redemptive value of any life insurance. Debts owed? Redemptive value of life insurance? Is nothing sacred? Geesh. Paintings are among those items exempted from the tax, but still. You can learn more about how the French do it here.

Well, I guess the government is gonna’ do what the government is gonna’ do, but I am not feeling this. Not today, anyhow.

What about you? Do you think the wealth tax sounds like a good idea?

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