A hypothetical group of friends go out for dinner and drinks. Nick, Gabe, Ashton and Abigail all have steak and salad, share a bottle of Merlot and all have equally-priced desserts. The bill comes to $160.00, including tip. How much does each pay?
Any reasonable person, in the absence of evidence about any overriding prior agreement between any of the diners, would say $40.00 each.
OK. So far so good. Let's change the scenario a bit. What if Abigail had only a salad, a bottle of water and skipped dessert? For the sake of argument, let's say the bill still totaled $160.00. Should each diner still pay $40.00, even though Abigail only ate $15.00 worth of food? Of course not. Each diner should pay for what he or she ordered. That would be fair.
What if there were 200 diners? 25,000? 30,000,000? 320,000,000? Would each person still pay for what he or she actually consumes, or would the larger number of diners somehow change the definition of what reasonably constitutes each person's fair share?
If we can stipulate that there would be a near-instant system of calculating each person's share, then the number of diners is really irrelevant. Each should still pay for what he or she personally consumes. If some diners were there as part of a family, or if some were dating others in the group, then prior arrangements or understandings might exist that would have some diners voluntarily paying the share of others.
What if it's not a restaurant meal that we are talking about? What if we are considering, say, childcare expenses. Or perhaps healthcare expenses. What about educational spending? Does the nature of the expenses have any bearing on what is 'fair?'
I have one child, aged eleven. Is it fair that I pay, through taxes, the educational costs of others with more children? No!
What about health care? I went to a doctor's office once, when I was six years old, to get a certificate saying that I was well enough to return to school after a bout of whooping cough. He didn't treat the malady. My mother did that, using various home remedies. He just agreed that I was well enough to return to school. The next time I attended a doctor's office was when I was twenty-two and needed a physical examination for admission to university as a 'mature student.' To pay for my 'fair share' of the expenses of the vaunted Canadian health care system, I have paid through taxes, over the years, many times what my true 'fair share' would be. At age 58, I still rarely go to see a medical doctor.
The political left is braying constantly about everyone paying their fair share. The implication is always that the 'rich' are somehow not paying their fair share of the cumulative tax burden. They have more, earn more, so they should pay more, even if they don't consume more. Does anyone, anywhere, with more than three or four living brain cells actually believe that?
Let's go back to our hypothetical diners. If Abigail earns ten times as much as her three friends, should she pay a correspondingly larger share of the meal expenses? No. Should she pay ten times as much in income tax? That would certainly be the lesser of a number of tax evils, since it would at least mean that she was paying the same percentage of her wages in tax as did her friends. The reality, however, in our graduated income tax system, is that she would be in a higher tax bracket than her friends. Because of her higher resultant marginal tax rate, she would pay not ten times more but some multiple higher than ten, depending on actually how much money she earns.
Is that fair? Not by any sane definition. Let's call the system what it is. Legalized theft. Extortion.
Somehow, we are told by the left, it is perfectly OK for the 'poor' to pay little or no taxes, while the 'rich' must pony up much, much more than the value of what they actually consume in the way of various public 'services.' If the cost, per person, to live in a country is (hypothetically) $20,000 per annum, is it fair that some people pay virtually nothing in taxes while others pay tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars? No.
Let's understand what is going on. Anyone who is contributing less than what it costs to pay his or her share of the cumulative cost of support, is getting charity from those who contribute more than his or her share. Let's stop bleating about how the rich are not contributing their fair share and be grateful that they are helping pay the way for everyone else.
Now that would be fair.