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Thomas Jefferson on taxing the rich.

mrigor 2010/10/07 15:08:17

“Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to
exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher
portions of property in geometric progression as they rise”



~Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the United States)
(source)http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch15s32.html
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  • Steve 2010/10/07 15:16:48
    Steve
    +7
    Thanks for posting this. Progressive taxation isn't "socialism" or "communism." It is traditional and as American as apple pie.

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  • ChrisConlin 2011/02/25 05:24:16
    ChrisConlin
    +1
    This quote is taken completely out of context because most read it in light of our current income tax system. This quote has nothing to do with taxing the income of the rich or any other person for that matter but rather has to do with taxing progressively higher ELEVATIONS OF LAND. Don't believe me, read the linked letter of Jefferson to Madison on 28 Oct. 1785 provided by the original poster of this thread.
  • Fred Ro... ChrisCo... 2012/08/03 13:49:29 (edited)
    Fred Rogers
    +3
    He does mention "uncultivated lands" in the surrounding context and "property" does refer to land ownership, but you are way off relating it to elevation. Just in the sentence that's quoted, he says "higher PORTIONS of property". Not in the sense of higher sections of land, but in the sense of larger allocations of land held by the wealthy. He is perplexed that the wealthy would own so much land that isn't being "labored", or farmed, when there are so many poor people that are willing to work. Now you can argue that he was talking about French people and not Americans. And you can point out that there are a lot of other quotes where he talks about not having an "internal tax" on the American people. This particular quote is legitimately saying there needs to be higher taxes on the wealthy, though. There's also a hint at what we might call a "death tax" (which he endorses in at least one other letter to John Adams as a means of preventing aristocracy and oligarchy). There are other quotes like this one, also, where he describes a sort of Utopia for the poor built by income from tariffs on expensive goods purchased by the wealthy. It's fair to say that he had differing opinions at different times, possibly because he was a politician.
  • ralph.j... ChrisCo... 2012/10/25 08:44:41
    ralph.jones.589
    +2
    it's kinda mute. we don't sacrifice people anymore, to apiece Gods. yet some want to be them.and some want to still oppress people. as to elevations. swamp or furtile land to grow crops?
  • Che Guevara - Hero 2010/10/31 05:39:29
  • Patent1 2010/10/19 05:28:12
    Patent1
    +1
    Too many people today make too much money. The tax rates need to be extended all the way up to 90% for top earners. The person who makes a billion or more a year, for instance. The tax dollars from just 1 person who makes a billion dollars in 1 year would pay for 3 shifts of border guards every 1000 feet along OUR ENTIRE MEXICAN BORDER.... FOR 10 YEARS. If you want to secure the border, its going to take that kind of tax money. The poor billionaire? Even after taxes, he would make $23,000 PER HOUR FOR 52 40 HR WEEKS. What, do you think he would have to go on food stamps? The guy in a 90% tax bracket still makes more money when he takes a dump at work than most of us make in 3 months.

    GET REAL, TEABUGGERS, YOU ARE ALL CRAZY.
  • Heyrob Patent1 2013/12/11 05:34:28 (edited)
    Heyrob
    +2
    Who are you to decide how much money someone else is allowed to make before the government steals it? It's okay, I understand that you have no understanding of economics and if you steal 90% of someones income in the name of tax fairness, pretty soon this person will either quit working so hard or leave the country (as many have already done) in just a few short years, you will become the rich guy and the government will be taking 90% of your income. I can only wonder how loudly you will protest when it's your hard earned cash that Uncle Sam starts to steal.
  • Patent1 Heyrob 2013/12/18 03:47:20
    Patent1
    The rich have gotten huge tax windfalls at the expense of the rest of us, and at the expense of America. They need to pay more. Big corporations need to pay at least SOME taxes. Today, American students are 27th in math, 23 in science and 17th in reading. Behind Slovakia. That's what lower taxes and the elimination of social programs has done.
  • Jon Bergen 2010/10/15 07:18:02
    Jon Bergen
    I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.

    We did not raise armies for glory or for conquest.

    The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.

    I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.

    I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry, too.

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

    Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.

    Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.

    It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.

    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.

    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
  • KB 2010/10/10 14:20:44
    KB
    +2
    Jefferson is no longer in Texas Schoolbooks for a reason.
  • Patent1 KB 2010/11/09 05:38:24
    Patent1
    And that reason would be the propagation of stupidity and ignorance.
  • KB Patent1 2010/11/09 17:12:47
    KB
    Well that's Texas!
  • nkrause27 2010/10/08 18:50:31
    nkrause27
    +1
    "Every generation needs a revolution"

    ~Thomas Jefferson

    We need more leaders who think like this guy cuz just plain wow...
  • USAF Vet Dan 2010/10/08 17:13:34 (edited)
    USAF Vet Dan
    +1
    This quote isn't about income tax (which didn't come into existence until the 1913 passage of the 16th Amendment.) It is about property taxes which have never existed at the federal level. Also, it relates to how property was obtained during the frontier days of our nation and had nothing to do with "wealth redistribution" and everything to do with equal distribution of the natural assets (land).

    There are many quotes by Jefferson that make it clear that he was certainly NOT in favor of the concepts that comprise socialism / communism... including a graduated income tax (one of the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto).

    "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
  • Beccy USAF Ve... 2010/10/09 00:21:53
    Beccy
    +1
    Thankjs for sharing Dan
  • Patent1 USAF Ve... 2010/12/13 02:36:45 (edited)
    Patent1
    This is all well and good as long as people live in the stone age. We don't live in the stone age any longer. Without socialism, nuclear power would never have come into existence, as no nuclear power plant, at least in the US, has ever made a profit. We would not have roads, bridges and highways to the extent we do today. A college education would be prohibitively expensive. The elderly would starve. In the very first American colony there was a carpenter who owned his own tools, a baker who owned his own oven and a blacksmith who owned his own forge and tools. By definition, they were socialists, i.e. workers who owned their own means of production. The same is true today.
    As far as the failures of a free market system, you don't have to look far. Medical insurance companies are incentivized to provide as crappy a product as possible. As I already mentioned, nuclear power would have been dismissed as unfeasible. No one would build roads, unless they were toll roads. And so forth.
    Like it or not, we depend on socialism in this country. The problem today is that there is not enough of it.
    BTW, you might want to look at the preamble of the Constitution. Right next to "provide for the common defence..." is "promote the general Welfare...". Obviously, the Founders intended as much emphasis on the latter as the former, thus forever affirming socialist principles in the Constitution.
  • USAF Ve... Patent1 2011/01/09 01:21:03
    USAF Vet Dan
    Oh brother!
  • Patent1 USAF Ve... 2011/01/26 04:45:08
    Patent1
    Thats your rebuttal??? pretty frigging lame.
  • Heyrob Patent1 2013/12/11 05:29:05
    Heyrob
    +2
    Wow you are so far from the truth it's amazing. You like most progressives have completely erroneous understanding of the meaning of the general welfare clause. As James Madison points out in the Federalist #41 "It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,'' amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare.”

    In other words what point would ...
    Wow you are so far from the truth it's amazing. You like most progressives have completely erroneous understanding of the meaning of the general welfare clause. As James Madison points out in the Federalist #41 "It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,'' amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare.”

    In other words what point would there be in having only specific and enumerated powers granted to the Federal Government, but then give it Carte blanche to do any damn thing it wanted? It doesn't and the reason there is any confusion on the part of folks like you, is that you misinterpret the meaning of general welfare. The correct definition as understood by the framers meant that the government had the responsibility to promote equal opportunity (general welfare) to every citizen. It is about providing a level playing field for everyone to prosper, not to take from some to give to others.
    (more)
  • Fred Ro... USAF Ve... 2012/08/03 16:08:00
    Fred Rogers
    +4
    Dan, with all due respect, I have to differ with your analysis. I will apologize first for the length of this reply, but I hope that someone finds it worthwhile. The quote in the original post IS most assuredly about wealth redistribution, albeit in France. Understandably, Jefferson and many of his contemporaries were wary of an aristocracy developing on this continent because of the tyrannical abuses of wealth and power they had seen on the old continent.

    It's true there are many quotes that make Jefferson sound like a modern conservative, but it's also true there are many quotes that make him sound like a socialist. For instance, "I approved from the first moment of [a long list of powers given to the federal government in the Constitution]... and the power of taxation. I thought at first that the latter [i.e., taxation] might have been limited. A little reflection soon convinced me it ought not to be." (letter to Francis Hopkinson, 1789, my notes in squares). Unlimited power of taxation sounds a little bit like socialism. Or, in a much later letter, he says "I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom." and proclaims that landowners are but stewards for the treasury (letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816). On the othe...












    Dan, with all due respect, I have to differ with your analysis. I will apologize first for the length of this reply, but I hope that someone finds it worthwhile. The quote in the original post IS most assuredly about wealth redistribution, albeit in France. Understandably, Jefferson and many of his contemporaries were wary of an aristocracy developing on this continent because of the tyrannical abuses of wealth and power they had seen on the old continent.

    It's true there are many quotes that make Jefferson sound like a modern conservative, but it's also true there are many quotes that make him sound like a socialist. For instance, "I approved from the first moment of [a long list of powers given to the federal government in the Constitution]... and the power of taxation. I thought at first that the latter [i.e., taxation] might have been limited. A little reflection soon convinced me it ought not to be." (letter to Francis Hopkinson, 1789, my notes in squares). Unlimited power of taxation sounds a little bit like socialism. Or, in a much later letter, he says "I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom." and proclaims that landowners are but stewards for the treasury (letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816). On the other hand, in the very same paragraph, he rails against working "16 hours in the 24" and giving the government the earnings of 15 of these to pay off their deficits, and then through a series of mis-management and human tendency we end up with "Taxation follows that, and in it's train, wretchedness and oppression." It's somewhat absurd that we expect a man that spent so much of his time thinking about how to solve all of society's problems to never have changed his mind or said things that were at least, by our perception, a little bit contradictory. It's also silly to think that Jefferson would wholly approve of either the far-right or the far-left in our contemporary political stage. That said, I will conjecture that for the most part Jefferson saw it as the federal government's right to levy import, export, and possibly inter-state trade taxes (which he thought would by in large only affect the wealthy) and leave anything else to be determined by the states.

    http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/t... (to Hopkinson)
    http://teachingamericanhistor... (to Kercheval)

    The first quote you provided, Dan, is from his first Inaugural Speech and means exactly what it says. That speech is practically a modern fiscal conservative's manifesto.

    Your second quote is somewhat misquoted, although the meaning's the same. The link at monticello.org is broken right now, but exactly what he said was, "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."

    The third quote is interesting because it is specifically referring to the funding of religious institutions. I'm a bit skeptical that it can taken out of that singular context. It's from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and he is saying that it is completely inappropriate for the (Virginian state) government to endorse any religious institution in any way, including but not limited to provisioning a pastor with tax money. I see this quote brought up by modern conservatives because, taken out of context, it seems to support a complete lack of taxation. Put in its original context, it undercuts at least some if not a large portion of the far-right's present platform (the religious parts, not the fiscal parts). Since Jefferson was not Christian, he definitely would not have appreciated the idea that marriage must be defined as it is in the Bible (which I'm not even sure what that means... are we saying that I can have a couple dozen wives and 300 concubines, or that if I rape a virgin I have to pay her dad 50 pieces of silver and marry her, or any of the other things that were acceptable in Biblical times but definitely are not anymore).

    http://www.monticello.org/sit...

    I apologize again if this post seems long-winded, but I've been reading a lot of Jefferson quotes lately given the Tea Party's unilateral, and typically misinformed, statements about what the founding fathers' intentions for our nation actually were. Personally, I don't think any extreme is going to solve all of our problems like magic. I will say with conviction that supply-side/trickle-down will never work. And we need taxes, especially on corporations and the wealthy (sorry, but they are not now and never will be job creators, they are hoarding the nation's wealth like the French aristocrats Jefferson denounced in the original post). We also need to cut back on excessive spending, including but not limited to the military. In the end, there are no easy answers.
    (more)
  • DJL 2010/10/08 06:39:21
    DJL
    +2
    Notice it says tax the property,this was written before income tax and there is no way of knowing how he would have felt about taxing the people that provide jobs. I have no doubt that he would not approve of the federal governments trampling of the Constitution.
  • Toria DJL 2010/10/11 07:59:04
    Toria
    +1
    Yes, back then the goverment actually worked on donations from wealthy citzens. I'm not expecting that to return anytime soon... oh well.
  • Patent1 DJL 2010/12/13 02:41:50
    Patent1
    Thomas Jefferson was also a lifelong slave owner. What about trampling on human rights?
  • Fred Ro... Patent1 2012/08/03 14:32:57
    Fred Rogers
    +1
    He was also an abolitionist before anyone really thought of that as a possibility. Perhaps that makes him a hypocrite, but perhaps he thought it better to keep those people under his care because there wasn't really a more humane alternative given the social atmosphere of the time.

    http://www.monticello.org/sit...
  • Patent1 DJL 2012/08/04 15:22:10
    Patent1
    So the rich were intended to provide money to ensure the guarantee of "promote the general welfare" as provided by the constitution. Hey. that sounds like today!
  • DJL Patent1 2012/08/04 19:32:09
    DJL
    The rich gave donations to keep the government running. That is nothing like today where the government keeps stealing more and more money so that some can pay nothing to the federal government.
  • Patent1 DJL 2012/08/05 22:02:46
    Patent1
    Then why are our taxes lower than ever before, to the point where the gov. almost cannot function. And those that don't pay anything, if you are referring to the poor, aren't paid enough to live on thanks to the so-called free market system. I bet the people they work for are rich.
  • DJL Patent1 2012/08/05 23:06:36
    DJL
    We do not have a problem of too low taxes. We have a problem of out of control spending. We could tax the rich at 100% and it wouldn't pay for more than a few months of spending.
  • Patent1 DJL 2012/08/05 23:38:05
    Patent1
    Not true, although 90% would go a long way. If just 1 of the investment bankers that made a billion or more last year paid 90% in taxes, it would provide enough money to put 3 shifts of border guards every 1000 feet along our entire Mexican border for 10 yrs. That's thousands of jobs for 10 yrs. And the investment banker would still make almost 2 mil per week every week of the year, even at a 90% tax rate. There are many such people.

    Taxes were higher during Clinton's 8 yrs., and he left a surplus for bush2, and the economy boomed Spending was not so much higher. During Reagan's 8 yrs, taxes were much higher, and spending was higher because we were fighting the cold war.

    There is not an infinite supply of money. When too much gets taken out of the economy, it shrinks, and cannot support new jobs. This is what has happened. Since 1980 the economy has doubled in size, and all this vast wealth has gone to the upper 5%. The population has increased, but jobs have not. Middle class spending is now too low to justify new jobs.
  • DJL Patent1 2012/08/06 00:14:18
    DJL
    Clinton did not leave a surplus we still had debt. Clinton was forced to cut spending,it was not what he wanted. We could tax the top 1% of the populaion at 100% and it would not even cover our spending for a month.
  • Patent1 DJL 2012/08/06 04:40:05
  • DJL Patent1 2012/08/06 00:19:34
    DJL
    This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money? According to IRS statistics, roughly 2 percent of U.S. households have an income of $250,000 and above. By the way, $250,000 per year hardly qualifies one as being rich. It's not even yacht and Learjet money. All told, households earning $250,000 and above account for 25 percent, or $1.97 trillion, of the nearly $8 trillion of total household income. If Congress imposed a 100 percent tax, taking all earnings above $250,000 per year, it would yield the princely sum of $1.4 trillion. That would keep the government running for 141 days, but there's a problem because there are 224 more days left in the year.

    http://www.matchdoctor.com/th...
  • Patent1 DJL 2012/08/06 04:42:38
    Patent1
    You cite another repug lie generator. They are a dime adozen. How about some facts instead of lies.
  • The Albertan 2010/10/08 05:33:37
    The Albertan
    well i agree. the rich are the ones that don't really do that much so they should have those piles of money they inherit taxed
  • JO 2010/10/08 04:12:05
    JO
    +2
    BRAVO, FOR THOMAS JEFFERSON!!!!!

    jo
  • Beccy 2010/10/08 01:40:11
    Beccy
    +2
    Great post thank you so much for sharing
  • USAF Ve... Beccy 2010/10/08 17:15:43
  • Fr Kelsey Graham 2010/10/08 00:24:45
    Fr Kelsey Graham
    +1
    Marnie Thompson defies the conventional wisdom that wealthy people don't like taxes.

    She's on a public relations and lobbying campaign to see her own taxes go up.

    "I'm proud to pay my taxes; it's a hallmark of democracy," says Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who gave $5 million she would have inherited to found a charity.

    "As a wealthy person, I want you to tax me more," she writes to her elected officials.

    And, more than likely, she'll get her wish.

    Raising Taxes For The Wealthy

    The series of tax cuts the Bush administration enacted in 2001 is set to expire at the end of the year. Income taxes for households with incomes over $250,000 (or $200,000 for single people) will go up, although Congress is expected to extend the cuts for those making less.

    Dividend taxes, which had been cut to 15 percent, will very likely also increase, although it's not clear whether they will revert to the previous top rate of 39.5 percent. Likewise, estate taxes for the wealthiest Americans are also likely to increase. In addition, taxes to pay for the new health care legislation are likely to add to the tax bill.

    If you ask Jeffrey Hollender, who along with Thompson is a member of the Responsible Wealth project, all of those cuts should go away because they primarily ...













    Marnie Thompson defies the conventional wisdom that wealthy people don't like taxes.

    She's on a public relations and lobbying campaign to see her own taxes go up.

    "I'm proud to pay my taxes; it's a hallmark of democracy," says Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who gave $5 million she would have inherited to found a charity.

    "As a wealthy person, I want you to tax me more," she writes to her elected officials.

    And, more than likely, she'll get her wish.

    Raising Taxes For The Wealthy

    The series of tax cuts the Bush administration enacted in 2001 is set to expire at the end of the year. Income taxes for households with incomes over $250,000 (or $200,000 for single people) will go up, although Congress is expected to extend the cuts for those making less.

    Dividend taxes, which had been cut to 15 percent, will very likely also increase, although it's not clear whether they will revert to the previous top rate of 39.5 percent. Likewise, estate taxes for the wealthiest Americans are also likely to increase. In addition, taxes to pay for the new health care legislation are likely to add to the tax bill.

    If you ask Jeffrey Hollender, who along with Thompson is a member of the Responsible Wealth project, all of those cuts should go away because they primarily benefit the richest, like him.

    "I do feel that I should pay more taxes — absolutely," Hollender says. "While I don't like how the government spends the money I give them, I do feel that I pay too little."



    Hollender, co-founder of the eco-products company Seventh Generation, says he doesn't believe in trickle-down economics — the theory that what benefits the rich helps everybody.

    "These arguments are really about keeping money in the pockets of people who already have too much money," Hollender says.

    It might seem strange and novel that some rich liberals like Thompson and Hollender would campaign against their own financial interests on taxes. Naturally, they could give away their money — and they both do some of that.

    And they say their embrace of taxes isn't as weird as it might seem. There may be plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. But these wealthy individuals point to a recent Quinnipiac University poll showing nearly two-thirds of those with household incomes of more than $250,000 a year support raising their own taxes to reduce the federal deficit.

    In the past, other superrich people, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Sr. — father of the Microsoft founder — have championed their pro-tax stance. They said their wealth should be taxed heavily to support the public institutions they say allowed them to succeed.
    (more)
  • beavith1 Fr Kels... 2010/10/08 16:10:07
    beavith1
    and today's Darwin Award winners are:

    Marnie Thompson and Jeffrey Hollender
  • dick 2010/10/07 23:05:27
    dick
    If there were a flat rate tax it would be cheaper for everyone and the government would just have to learn within it's means like the rest of us! Government seems to think that the answer to everything is higher taxation it is time to stop!
  • Patent1 dick 2010/10/08 03:53:10
    Patent1
    People like you would turn the US into a banana republic. It costs money to run a country as large as the US. The gov. has huge responsibilities, and repugnicans, teabuggers and dems alike howl and scream when the gov. can't help with problems they should be able to help with. We actually need roads and bridges, nuclear reactors, public schools, state
    colleges, social security, medicare, medicaid, unemployment insurance, etc. All these things are too big for individual states to handle. Currently, all the tax money taken in only pays for social security, medicare and unemployment insurance. Everything else is borrowed. why? because of the insane bush tax cuts that mainly benefit the rich. Top tax rates on the rich, in 1944-1945 were higher than 90%. That's where they should be today. A single individual who makes a billion or more in a year, if taxed at a 90% rate, would provide enough tax money to put 3 shifts of border guards every 1000 feet along our entire Mexican border FOR 10 YEARS. The poor billionaire living on a measly 10% of a billion dollars would still make over $23,000 AN HOUR FOR 40 HOUR WEEKS.

    Get real. start looking at actual facts instead of political slogans. You will be a better person for it.

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