20 de fevereiro de 2009

Notas de leitura: Mises e a taxação de rendimentos elevados

Ludwig von Mises [Interventionism, an Economic Analysis | Chapter IV. Confiscation and Subsidies]
"Popular opinion is inclined to believe that the taxing away of huge incomes does not concern the less wealthy classes. This is a fallacy. The recipients of higher incomes usually consume a smaller proportion of their incomes and save and invest a larger part than the less wealthy. And it is only through saving that capital is created. Only that part of income that is not consumed can be accumulated as capital. By making the higher incomes pay a larger share of the public expenditures than lower incomes, one impedes the operation of capital and eliminates the tendency, which prevails in a society with increasing capital, to increase the marginal productivity of labor and therefore to raise wages.

The same is, of course, true even to a greater extent of all methods of taxing away part of the principal. By drawing on capital to pay for public expenditures through inheritance taxes or a capital levy, for instance, capital is directly consumed.

The demagogue tells the voters: "The state has to make large expenditures. But the procurement of funds for these expenditures is not your concern. The rich should be made to pay." The honest politician should say: "Unfortunately the state will need more money to cover its expenditures. In any case, you will have to carry most of the burden because you are receiving and consuming the largest share of the total national income. You have to choose between two methods. Either you restrict your consumption immediately, or you consume the capital of the wealthy first and then a bit later you will suffer from falling wages."

The worst type of demagogue goes even further by saying: "We have to arm and possibly even go to war. But this not only will not lower your standard of living; it will even increase it. Right now we shall undertake a large-scale housing program and increase real wages." To this we have to say that with a limited quantity of materials and labor we cannot simultaneously make both armaments and dwellings.

A tax system which would serve the real interests of the wage earners would tax only that part of income which is being consumed, and not saved and invested. High taxes on the spending of the rich do not injure the interests of the masses; however, every measure which impedes the formation of capital or which consumes capital does injure them."

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