I happened to watch a YouTube video Politicon 2017 Live Stream Schapiro vs Uygur and I want to address only the part of the discussion which was about taxes. Ben Shapiro did a good job, but a much stronger case should be made about Uygur’s statements which were economically ignorant.
One of the points that Cenk Uygur made during the debate is that high taxes are good, that we have more prosperity with higher taxes, and lower taxes are bad for the economy. In his opinion, if the government takes money from the people who earn it and gives it to the people who don’t earn it, everybody is going to be better off, including the people who are being taxed. He cited the 1950’s as an example of U.S. economic prosperity, concluding that because income tax rates were 91% America was wealthy. This false logic. it is like eating a banana during a rainstorm and concluding that eating bananas causes rainfall.
The ’50’s and ’60’s Marked the End of American Prosperity
In fact the reason we were prosperous in the 1950’s and 1960’s is not because of high taxes during those decades, but how low they were taxed in the decades before that. Ben Shapiro’s response to Uygur was that we won WWII and the rest of the world was decimated, which is true, but not an accurate response. The 1950’s didn’t just occur spontaneously.
Tax Rate Was Zero
We were wealthy and a mighty power before WWII. The standard of living in the ’50’s and ’60s was a product of the 19th century, and the early 20th century when we had no taxes at all. The reason we created such a strong middle class was because we had no taxes. After the end of the civil war, from 1870 – 1913, which was the introduction of the income tax, the income tax rate was zero. That’s the time of the industrial revolution. That’s when all the immigrants were coming to America – the 1880’s the 1890’s, the 1900’s. That’s when all 4 of my grandparents came here. There were no taxes and massive economic growth when the tax rate was zero.
Camel’s Nose Under the Tent
When they started the income tax in 1913, the top bracket was 7%. That’s still very low, Initially they wanted to cap it at 10% and the reason they didn’t is the objection was that the cap would encourage lawmakers to raise it to 10%. Unfortunately, they didn’t cap it, and of course this was the camel’s nose under the tent and the minute you had an income tax, congress couldn’t resist the temptation to raise it.