Monday, December 5, 2011

Back to Nozick

This is a video of Elizabeth Warren, who is the Democrat running against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts senate race next year. She's a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy and has worked for the Obama administration.

The part that I want to focus on is her discussion of the social contract. She notes that when a major corporation makes money, they should absolutely keep a large chunk, but they should also pay some forward in the form of taxes. Her logic is this: A company makes its own product BUT that product is transported on roads built by taxpayer money, protected by public police and fire forces, and is made by workers educated by the public school system. In this way, the public contributes to the production, safekeeping, and distribution of goods and deserve to benefit from the success of that. Taxes also help produce similar successes in other companies.

I bring this up because I think maybe it can apply to our Wilt situation. Let's say Wilt learned to play basketball in public elementary school, practiced on city parks, and was given money to play for a public college (KU). Doesn't the same pay it forward system apply? Wilt absolutely deserves to benefit from his natural talent and from the freely given money of those who want to watch him play. Given Warren's logic (and if you can't tell, I'm totally on board with it), he also has a responsibility to the community that helped him along. Additionally, taxing the inheritance that he transfers to his children makes more sense because the community ought also to inherit as a result of their own contribution, although that inheritance may be in the form of taxation.

What do y'all think of this situation?


  1. I definitely agree that major corporations should give back to the community even if that is in the form of taxes. As you said, these companies are able to thrive because of the communities they are in so it only makes sense for the company to give back. I'm not sure if this can apply to the Wilt situation though because it seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Yes it is true that the public educated him and possibly gave him the opportunity to practice his skills, but I do not think he necessarily owes the same as a large corporation would. Although I think it might be beneficial to place higher taxes on those who can actually afford to pay them, I do not think he should be punished for a talent that he was born with which he decided to pursue.

  2. I do not agree that major corporations should be forced to pay taxes on the grounds that the government provided roads, police, and educated workers. By providing these "luxuries," companies are attracted to the United States for business; however, if they are directly held responsible to pay for these public services, they will be inclined to move their businesses elsewhere in the world as it is financially more practical.
    Regarding your argument for an inheritance tax, as it stands right now, people are initially taxed on their income. You implied the idea that taxes could be considered a form of giving back to the community for providing its citizens with the resources to succeed. Why then, is it necessary to tax an individual a second time after death for the same thing? Shouldn't it be the right of the individual to choose where their money goes after death if they already followed the legal procedure for acquisition?


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