Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Parable of the Talents

I just ran across a reference to a passage from the bible in an article on the battle between progressive tax rates and capital gains preferences. The passage quoted was Matthew 25:29 and sayeth thus: "For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." This in reference to the tax rate wars between 1986 and 2005 and the effect of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 on the middle class (in the law review article, not the bible; the bible, suprisingly, makes no reference to the preferential capital gains and dividend rates in the Bush tax cuts).

The article is "Class Warfare 1988-2005 Over Top Individual Income Tax Rates: Teeter-Totter from Soak-the-Rich to Robin-hood-in-Reverse" by John Lee, a professor at UC Hastings College of Law. This is actually the third of his articles I've read recently, and I must say, I like the cut of his jib. Prior to reading his work, I had an inarticulate dislike for perential capital gains rates. Now I have an articulable dislike for perential capital gains rates.

Anyway, I read the text in the bible surrounding Matt 25:29, and it tells the parable of the Talent, which I may have heard before. It contains the phrase, "to each according to his ability," which seems like it can be used to justify either progressive tax rates or laissez-faire economics and absurdly high pay for business executives. I choose to read it to justify (no, mandate!) the former. (of course, my reading is a little harder to gel with the rest of the story, but that's what I want it to say and so that's what it says)


Blogger Matt said...

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Now those are words to live by.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Fishfrog said...

Agreed. And the line from Matt 25:29 can be read as an equivalent, thus supporting my reading of the earlier line. Both follow:

"For to him who has everything, more [tax liability] will be given...."

"To each[, tax liability] according to his ability [to pay]."

So the bible clearly supports progressive tax rates.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

And that's why I've accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal savior.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Fishfrog said...

I have accepted him as my co-pilot and tax policy advisor. "Jesus H. Christ, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute"

4:07 PM  
Blogger Xeno said...


5:04 PM  

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