The rich's burden

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Charles E. Moore's article "I Plead Guilty" (Nov. 3 Forum) is a crude rehash of Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged." In the novel, the hero John Galt joins a group of tycoons who, believing themselves to be over-taxed and regulated, go on strike.

Mr. Moore and Ms. Rand have a valid point. Taxation and regulation are a burden on society and, in excess, can undermine prosperity. This was the case in Greece, in Britain in the 1970s when the marginal tax rate was 95 percent (see The Beatles' "Taxman"), and probably in France today where the government share of GDP is over 50 percent.

Taxation and regulation also are necessary to provide a healthy, safe, civilized environment. Mr. Moore could greatly reduce his tax burden by moving south to Mexico City, but he would incur the additional expense of providing bodyguards for trips to dance lessons and for bribes to underpaid public servants if he wanted to operate a business.

In the United States our tax and regulatory burdens have increased in recent years but are not high relative to other mature, developed economies. We are doomed to years of political battles over the appropriate level of taxation, as the baby boomers retire and leave the workforce and worker productivity lags due to inadequate savings and investment and substandard education.

I recognize that my personal prosperity resulted largely from the wise choices I made regarding the time and place of my birth, physical health and mental capabilities.

Only the prosperous have tax problems!


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