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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Do We Call Taxes a `Burden'?

Rashi Fein

This 1996 op-ed, originally published in The Washington Post, is as timely as ever.

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I learn a lot watching C-SPAN. The other night, one of Washington's leading economists was asked about using the tax system to help reduce environmental damage. The response? It certainly would be difficult, because it would increase the `tax burden.'

`Tax burden' is a phrase with which we are all so familiar that we don't stop to think what it means--nor what it implies. At first blush it seems value-free. But plainly a `burden' is something to be lifted. We don't refer to the monies we spend on movies, popcorn, milk or shoes as `burdens.' We refer to them--and think of them--as expenditures, some (movies and popcorn) optional, others (food, shoes) necessary. We don't speak of our `consumption burden.' Why, then, a `tax burden'?

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Posted on April 15, 2009  |  2 comments  |  Add your comment
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Saturday, August 6, 2005

A Slow Death

Walter Shur, New York Life Insurance Company (Retired)

One of the reasons the Bush Social Security plan is dying is that the public instinctively knows it is not being told the truth. Here is a prime example:

The President Giveth And The President Taketh Away.

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Thursday, February 3, 2005

Balancing Risk and Guarantees

Carson E. Beadle, Chairman The Health Project

As the least equipped of our distinguished writers I am perhaps least to be considered. That said, I have been struck over the years by one factor in the continuing debate on the extent of social benefits. And that is the balance between the degree of personal risk that keeps us alert and the comfort of guarantees to the extent they engender complacency.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Chilean prescription will worsen US social security ills

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Pittsburgh

Jośe Piñera, former minister of labor under Pinochet and the “father” of pension privatization in Chile, as well as a promoter of that approach throughout the world, has recently discussed his conversations with and encouragement to President Bush to apply the Chilean prescription to cure U.S. social security ills (New York Times, December 1, 2004, A81).

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Three-Legged Stool

Gerben DeJong, PhD, Senior Fellow, National Rehabilitation Hospital

I am concerned that we are focused on only one of the 3 legs of the proverbial retirement security stool, namely, the Social Security leg, when the other two legs are even more wobbly. Consider the erosion of employer-sponsored retirement plans, the wobbliness of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and the lack of individual retirement savings. Time for a little broader perspective.

Moreover, we need to have a discussion on what the implications are for SSDI, the risk of cost-shifting to the SSI program, and new burdens on the states for the SSI and Medicaid programs. All of this becomes part of the mix.

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