The Herd

September 18th, 2012

Why do Republicans really want to “simplify” the tax code and collapse tax brackets? 


Social animals have always sought the protection of the herd,
But only with man has the line between predator and prey blurred.


Why do the super-wealthy want tax brackets collapsed? It’s not because of the complexity. More brackets just make the rate tables a few pages longer. And the super-rich already have super-complex and long tax forms, not because of the number of brackets, but because of how much money they make from many different sources, and the many tax shelters they use to reduce their tax liability. Plus, they never do their own taxes anyway.

So why do they want fewer brackets? Because they seek the protection of the herd.

Super-rich agribusiness firms who like to lump themselves for political and PR purposes with the beloved family farm, and “death tax” opponents lump themselves in with family-owned small businesses. Similarly, the super-rich know they’re unpopular, and therefore seek every opportunity to be linked politically and in the tax code to the middle class.

A majority of Americans (including a majority of Republicans) agree that taxes on the rich should be raised, and many Republican pols have now started lobbying to raise taxes on the poor. But far fewer Republicans and even fewer Dems are openly in favor of raising taxes on the middle class. So when the super-rich are able to get the top brackets rolled into the middle-class (or upper middle class) rate, that enlists the middle class in the super-rich fight to keep tax rates for the highest-bracket earners low.

The effectiveness of the herd as defense mechanism has been proven by millions of years of evolutionary history. Of course, in nature, the “social contract” is that the strongest members of the herd are the ones that leap to the herd’s defense when it’s attacked.

But the super-rich have the best of both worlds: they seek and benefit from the herd’s protection. But when the chips are down, they let the sick and weak get picked off by predators… unless, of course, they themselves are the ones doing the predation.

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One Response to “The Herd”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Fairness for the 2nd Percent (or: It’s Just a Little of the Top) Says:

    […] follow-up to The Herd, The Bucket/List and Not a Concession, inspired by RNC communications director Sean Spicer’s […]

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