Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?

 euros_getty This is the story on bbcnews.com. ‘A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes. The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany’s economic recovery.’ Would you like a tax hike for the rich in your country?

Do you agree with their sentiments? If you’re one of your country’s higher earners, do you want your government to take more money from you? And if you’re in a lower wage bracket, should the rich in your country be giving more to help you to get through the economic downturn?

217 Responses to “Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?”

  1. 1 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 14:25

    Wow. The rich already pay the vast majority of taxes. In the US, the top 1% of income earners pay well over 60% of all the income taxes. They should pay even more? A lot of people pay absolutely no income tax, and still receive benefits.

    If it becomes an obligation for wealthy (relative term, I’m by no means wealthy, yet I pay well over 25% on my income in federal income taxes alone, not including state, social security, medicare, etc), should the wealthy get something in return, like perhaps 2 votes? Why should the wealthy have to support everyone else’s lifestyles, yet only get the same one vote? That means that the wealthy have even less rights, if they have to pay for everyone else, yet get only the same benefits, are they not discriminated against?

    It’s like saying there are 2 people, X and Y. Y doesn’t make much money, cannot really support himself, and X makes good money, can support himself, so X is taxed to provide aid to Y, so Y gets his food and housing paid for, whereas X has to pay for that himself. Both only get one vote, both have all other the same “rights” and “privileges” but X has to pay a lot more in taxes, and doesn’t get the benefits that Y does. Why should X be compensated in some other way if society is going to rely on him to support everyone else?

    • 2 Alby
      October 23, 2009 at 14:58

      Steve, not true. the majority of taxes come from people who make less than $1M. The rates are much lower for people who earn dividends and capital gains, than for wage earners. Only 40% of taxpayers pay anything in the US, and they pay the bulk of the taxes. People at the bottom all pay their 12.5% FICA off the top for their own social security no matter what they earn. And the majority of our Fed Budget is just that, social security.

      Exxon Mobile and all the other oil companies pays so little in Fed tax, yet the US military provides security services for them for free, all over the world in the “troublespots” they themselves make!

      These figures are out there. Warren Buffet himself says he pays less % wise than his secretary. We need the facts here not myths! The Myths only serve 1% of the population, meanwhile the states are failing, universities are closing down, and more and more people are living desperate lives. Not necessary!

      • 3 Tom K in Mpls
        October 23, 2009 at 16:09

        Don’t confuse social security with taxes. It’s a whole seperate thing.

      • 4 Steve G
        October 23, 2009 at 18:08

        Sorry, but your data is not correct

        I recommend you visit the site below.


        In the USA the top earners pay proportionally more taxes than their income. And over time this percentage has increased.

      • 5 Denise
        October 25, 2009 at 17:01

        I completely and totally agree with you Alby. Unfortunately, Steve’s comments are the way most people believe here in America. Please quick listening to one-sided, corporate sponsored, right-wing media outlets and and go out and get the facts, democracynow.org is a good one.

        The truth is: lower income people have always bared the brunt of paying taxes and getting very little in return. Now, more and more “middle class” are feeling the economic woes due to our Bush/Dick economic induced meltdown.

        So, yes, wealthy people (over $500,000?) should pay more taxes. You make more, you pay more. This includes giant corporations such as oil, gas, coal, etc. to pay the same amount that everyone working for wages pays. No one benefits from people unable to pay their bills, much less go out into the economy and buy things, not even the rich.

    • 6 Jessica in NYC
      October 23, 2009 at 16:51

      The top 1% also hold 60% of the country’s wealth… so try again. For the “enormous” taxes they pay according to you, they get even more tax breaks. Wealthy people have all the advantages and get everything they want from government in return such from tax write off for their yachts as a business expense.

      • 7 Alby
        October 23, 2009 at 21:41

        Exactly Jessica. Those tables don’t say anything about the proportion of the income and wealth those people own…they are taxed at signfiicantly lower rates than wage-earners. And they’re children will own in a less and less competitive and mobile society. Check this out. Really good. Page 10 “one man, one vote” big trouble under “investment risks”. The Fed even says that 1% control 50% of the stock in the market. Top 20% control up 80% of all wealth in the country.


        Also, I don’t care about Taxfoundation has to say. They are a partisan outfit funded under Buckley vs Valeo for just this purpose of disinformation. Social security and medicare/medicaid is the majority of our Federal Expenditure, so why is that not considered Tax??? Try again. Same thing goes with sales taxes and property taxes all over this country. They are much higher as a % of income for wage earners. None of that in the Taxfoundation tables.

        The wealthy are not picking up slack on re-distribution, workers pay for that themselves with a flat tax no matter how poor and how low the wage.

        The rich pay for Defense spending 55% of all discretionary Fed spending which goes right back into the companies they own.

      • 8 Tom K in Mpls
        October 26, 2009 at 16:10

        The reason to not consider FICA a tax is that politicians can not redirect it at will to whatever they want. It has one purpose.

    • 9 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 18:14

      The biggest source of problems is the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich have more power.

      The rich decide many things which affect the poor.
      You say 60% of taxes, but you do not mention that they have 90% of the wealth. So porportionally, it is quite just.

  2. 10 nora
    October 23, 2009 at 14:33

    Ask Marie Antoinette.

  3. 11 VictorK
    October 23, 2009 at 14:38

    Government is the only way to re-distribute wealth? A perfectly socialist assumption.

    The rich can contibute and always have contributed voluntarily through charitable donations, as well as through taxes. That’s precisely how many institutions, from schools to hospitals, in a country like the UK came into existence? The NHS, for instance, came into being through the govt seizing the fruits of rich men’s contributions over centuries.

    So what’s the issue?

    • 12 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 18:16

      not quite true. SOME rich contribute to institutions like hospitals, etc, BUT usually, it is because they get some benefit.

      Yes, the rich should pay more.

  4. 13 Roy, Washington DC
    October 23, 2009 at 14:39

    Say you have a flat income tax of 25%. To someone who is earning minimum wage, that is a *lot* of money. On the other hand, 25% to someone who is making millions a year is nothing. You could tax them far more than that, and they would still have more money than they would know what to do with.

    Wealthy people can afford to pay more, so why shouldn’t they?

  5. 14 Jessica in NYC
    October 23, 2009 at 14:39

    Warren Buffet has proposed something similar.

    Why is taxing someone higher such a big whop-la… We’re not talking about taxing the wealtly to pay a tiny couple of percentages higher that they can afford. The wealthy are not “giving back” all the tax breaks they get or the parents who get tax less for their kids expenses. As a woman who is not wealthy, but do earn more than the woman cleaning my office building making minimum wage or the person below poverty line, I should pay a little more.

    Taxing the wealthy slightly higher is not about helping “me”, but about paying taxes for the government to fix things that feed work, like education, roads and health care.

  6. 15 Dan
    October 23, 2009 at 14:42

    The question should be is Government more efficient at distributing wealth than is the private individual thru foundations?
    In America, almost all absurdly wealthy people set up or will have set up after their deaths foundations to aid less fortunate throughout the world.
    Many of us use life insurance as a vehicle to set up something to leave behind letting those yet to come know that we were here.
    Governments have poured TRILLIONS into the pockets of tyrants throughout the world with little filtering down to those who desperatly need it.
    Private individuals and their foundations get right to the people bypassing the corrupt bureacracies that skim most of the aid money.

  7. 16 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 14:49

    @ Roy

    Is that not discriminatory, based upon income? Does not a wealthy person have less rights than a poorer person then if they get all the same rights/benefits but have to pay a lot more in taxes? Is that equality in your eyes?

    • 17 Roy, Washington DC
      October 23, 2009 at 15:49

      @ steve

      Sure, it’s discriminatory, but taxes are for the benefit of everyone, not just the individual who is paying them. As for wealthy people having “less rights” — as you gain wealth, you use different government services, but you do still use them. Take the SEC, for instance, which helps control investments. Minimum wage workers probably don’t care much about what it does, but wealthy people sure do.

      • 18 Tom K in Mpls
        October 23, 2009 at 20:16

        Anyone not trusting Social Security, investing for their own future, cares about the SEC. Improving this is the only thing the Bushes did right.

    • 19 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 18:18

      Steve, you want to pick and choose what is discriminatory.
      Much is discriminatory against the poor.

  8. 20 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 14:53

    @ Jessica

    Should not these “wealthy” get something in return for paying higher taxes? The poorer use roads, and schools, shouldn’t they have to contribute too? 50% of americans pay ZERO federal income tax. So they get to use the benefits without the burdens of paying taxes.

    Can you imagine other situations where it would be okay to discriminate like this? Even the selective service is controversial because it only requires males to sign up. So it’s okay to discriminate based upon income? You’re saying wealthy people have fewer rights, because they are required to pay more for the same services, many of those services they aren’t allowed to even partake in (such as subsidized housing, food, etc).

  9. 21 Dave in Florida
    October 23, 2009 at 14:55

    What is needed is to stop the insane “tax breaks” given to so many people rich and not-rich.

  10. 22 VictorK
    October 23, 2009 at 14:58

    I think this is much more about ‘Are the rich developed countries morally obliged [i.e. to be morally blackmailed] to share their wealth with the poor countries of the world?’

    @Steve: yes. ‘Equality’, a darling principle of the left, means flat rate taxes for all. Otherwise votes should be weighed, and if 1% of the public pays 60% of taxes (and how much more are they supposed to ‘share’) then their votes should control 60% of elected politicians. The rich should have rights too.

    • 23 Gary Paudler
      October 23, 2009 at 15:45

      The appeal of a flat tax is not the bogus equality that it, simplistically, implies, but its simplicity and lack of loop-holes that facilitate legal tax-evasion. It is not a darling of the Left, advocated more by so-called Libertarians who I think of as Hyper-Republicans but whom I admire for co-opting such a great name and using it so oxymoronically. “One man, one vote” does not a robust democracy make. As we’ve seen with Obama – and it’s not too late to turn it around – a candidate with great appeal to the masses and the best populist instincts can be elected and quickly fall subject to the prevailing and overwhelming plutocracy under which – as usual – a tycoon with only one vote, or an institution, such as a financial services company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer or an insurance company, institutions that don’t vote and, under our constitution do not have the same rights as individual citizens – wield enormous influence over our elected representatives while the rest of us go back to sleep for a couple of years until we barely muster the gumption to go vote again as our only prerogative in a democracy.

  11. 24 robert
    October 23, 2009 at 15:06

    I feel I am morally obliged.

    I earn a good salary because of the university education I recieved “free” (by which I mean at the point of contact, I know its not really free) from the UK Government. Now I repay that debt I owe to those that paid for me to go through university. My tax is my repaying those that have given me the chance I couldn’t have had otherwise.

    • 25 Steve G
      October 23, 2009 at 18:19


      I earn a good salary because of the eduction I paid for. The public schools in our city were useless so in order to get a good education you had to work an off-hour job to make enough to pay tuition. The same scenario applied to my University degrees.

      So now what? Do I owe a debt? To whom? To the public institutions which I did not use?

      p.s. I also paid for private education for my children. They are my children and I am responsible for their education, not the “public” .

  12. 26 Dan
    October 23, 2009 at 15:07

    @Roy, Washington DC
    Read the “Fair Tax” where minimum wage workers pay nothing in taxes. It is a more equitable tax system.

  13. October 23, 2009 at 15:07

    Money can’t buy everything, especially for those who have much of it. It can’t buy them respect as they’re seen as vampires sucking the blood of the poor. One should have enough money to cater for basic needs and not an extravagant life at the expense of the needy. It’s unimaginable that hundreds of million people live on less than a dollar a day, while others wastefully spend thousands of dollars daily.

    The rich have an obligation to be socially and economically responsible. The world still needs the types of Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates who are ready to offer the bulk of their money for humanitarian causes.

    In some countries, like Morocco, the rich should at least pay their taxes instead of resorting to tax evasion for more wealth accumulation.

  14. October 23, 2009 at 15:13

    Socialist Democracies, like much of Europe, might have a leg to stand on in this debate, although I am personally against big government intrusions on private citizens. The USA was designed to be as fair as possible, and while the wealthy SHOULD OFFER more, they should not be compelled to do so by law. I can also personally attest, however, that these ultra wealthy individuals don’t do nearly as much, per capita and percentage wise, as the middle to very low income people do. I work for a charity, and I know first hand that when fundraising in rich to extremely wealthy neighborhoods, you might come away with a small amount, but do the same fundraising in a lower income neighborhood and you will pull in more assistance every single time. The ultra wealthy and rich throw huge fundraising galas, patting each other on the back, or their own backs, all for the recognition more than the act of charity, and the money that they waste on the opulence of these events would go much farther by being directed at the cause. Their ego and self pity for not getting enough recognition usually makes their donations morally valueless.

  15. 29 T
    October 23, 2009 at 15:16

    Yes they are. It’s human nature to try and avoid paying taxes.

    On the other hand, to say if you want more just work harder isn’t the answer. You can analzye this all you want. But I’ve been homeless twice. If a rich person suddenly became homeless I gurantee that their perspective would instantly change.

  16. 30 Mike in Seattle
    October 23, 2009 at 15:18

    Of course they should, they’ve gained the most from society, they should pay the most back in. That, and people forget about marginal utility of money. If I tax someone making $100 million dollars a year 90%, they still have $10 million dollars to live off of. I’d like to hear a good reason why that isn’t enough to live off of.

    Most of all, people need to understand that “hard work” is but a small component in what determines how much money people make. Being born in a developed nation is quite helpful, but if you are born poor your chances of rising above that are quite low.

    Finally, the environment required to make a whole lot of money generally requires a whole lot of governmental support. Laws must be enforced for business deals to go through, infrastructure must be in place, and workers must be healthy and educated or the big money making businesses would never exist. Someone must help pay for all of those, and since the rich have gained the most from such an environment, why shouldn’t they pay the largest share?

    • 31 Denise in Chicago
      October 23, 2009 at 15:34

      So the government gets to decide that a person making $100-million a year should only need $10-million to live on? If someone has worked hard enough to earn $100-million, why should they have to support the lazy and unmotivated, or the ones who don’t work at all? Hard work is NOT a small component in earnings. Many people work 2 jobs to have more money. I’m not wealthy (barely middle class), but I certainly don’t begrudge those who are.

  17. October 23, 2009 at 15:24

    Hi WHYSers!
    I think the rich – whoever they are, are morally obliged to assist where and when they can. If they have more money than they need and do wish to part with it, by all means Governments should utilise that resource. What is not clear however, is whether a mandatory recovery of wealth of this kind by the state is, itself, morally correct. After all, we do not wish to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    However, it does seem reasonable that those with more resources should be called on to share some (how much remains to be determined!) of those resources with cash strapped Governments, like ours, to facilitate future development of other sectors in the society.

  18. October 23, 2009 at 15:28

    @ Mike in Seattle,

    I agree wholeheartedly! The point that we do not just miraculously become wealthy is so well made! I know of too many qualified, competent and hard working Jamaicans, who were just not fortunate enough to have been born in the right set of circumstances to strike it rich, or even comfortable. That being said, the issue of wealth is also more than a question of money it is also an attitude. We have to cultivate a greater sense of social responsibility towards others, especially in contexts where there are those who are historically marginalised within certain social, economic and political systems. So, yes, you are correct those who profit the most from the system should pay more; how much more is a matter for Governments to determine.

  19. October 23, 2009 at 15:29

    This is a point better debated by the wealthy, since it is their money being taxed. The fact that several of the wealthy in different nations understand that their own well-being and quality of life owes much to that of the nation they live in is a potent recommendation to the rest of their fellow million / billionaires.
    I don’t think governments are the most cost effective way to disperse funds, but to date, there is no alternative that would improve the well-being and quality of life for the general population in one’s nation.

  20. 35 Gary Paudler
    October 23, 2009 at 15:29

    Yes. But then, how will the government spend that increased revenue? Germany, as well as the UK, Japan, the US and other countries, went through periods of great prosperity and what did they do with the abundant wealth? Did all that capital go to eradicate poverty, improve education, provide healthcare, improve government efficiency, protect the environment, create a fund to deal with the inevitable economic downturn, make sure that rapacious greed-heads couldn’t drive us all into a smoking hole? To Steve’s unattributed assertion: According to Wikipedia, the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the US own as much as the bottom 90% combined and in 2003, paid just over 34% of federal income taxes. Worldwide, the richest 10% own 85% of all assets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth
    I think that it’s reasonable for wealthier people to pay higher taxes – they already have far more influence over government than the rest of us – but whether rich or poor, what governments do with their resources is more important than how much they have to spend.

  21. 36 Anthony
    October 23, 2009 at 15:34

    Yes, but just by a little bit, and if they don’t like it, we the people should band together to boycott however it is they make their $$$.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  22. 37 Ann
    October 23, 2009 at 15:34

    Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?

    Absolutely!! How they can sit back on their yaughts or in one of their many residences and watch people starve to death in the world is honestly beyond my comprehension. They have the wealth to do such great things for the less privilged – I so wish they would.

    • 38 Steve G
      October 23, 2009 at 18:38


      You may want to investigate how the people you consider “rich” became wealthy.

      I would be considered rich to some but I have always purchased used cars, have worked a second job at night, have saved a small portion of my income for a rainy day, purchase insurance against medical and other uncontrollable events (although as a young man I did not have insurance and required 5 years to pay off a medical expense), have not overused credit…in short I lived within my means and am conservative.

      Talk to the “rich” and get the entire picture. And talk to the poor.

  23. 39 Sefah Ato Welbeck
    October 23, 2009 at 15:40

    I think taxing the rich more is a very good idea since some have even proposed to that act.In Africa for instance there is this crucial problem that is eatting up almost everybody in the classless struggle and I guess this is the time to do away with this normal statement that’Everything is totally skewed in favour of the rich,and the rich is getting richer and richer whilst the poor is also getting poorer and poorer,’.The huge problem is about the government and its unequal distribution of income.In a country like Ghana for instance the income per capita is less than $600 which qualifies us to remain a less-developed country.Inspite of this,the leaders have been riding in porsh and flashy cars which have being driving the less-privilged crazy leading some to pass heart-rendering statements like;For the poor everythng is terrible-illness,humiliation,shame.We are cripples,we are afraid of everything;we depend on everyone.No one needs us.We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of.Let’s hope this proposal works.

  24. 40 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 15:40

    Wouldn’t that 90% tax on that person making 100 million discourage him from working as much. What’s to say he won’t decide to be less productive and make only $1million. that’s a lot less tax revenues for the government, even if they still took 90% of that 1million.

  25. 41 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 15:41

    @ Ann

    I’m considered “wealthy” by these tax standards, and I assure you, I don’t have yacht, or a mansion. I rent, and cannot afford to buy where I live, drive a used car, yet I live near government subsidized housing, and see BMWs and Mercedes Benzes in the parking lots there….

  26. 42 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 15:43

    It’s kind of interesting how everything thinks they have a right to tell others what to do with their own money, but you have no right to tell a woman she can or cannot get an abortion.. Why are some things considered private matters, yet other private things are not considered private matters?

  27. 43 Ibrahim in UK
    October 23, 2009 at 15:45

    The rich germans which proposed this plan are suggesting that the top earners in Germany pay 5% extra tax for 2 years to raise enough money to help the economy out of the slump. They are in a position to help and have offered it voluntarily. It is a great act of morality/humanity to offer help to someone less fortunate. A temporary boost before returning to normal again.
    I had never thought of it before in terms of discriminating against the rich, but Steve does make a very interesting point. Under which morality are the rich required to pay proportionately more?

  28. 44 James Ian
    October 23, 2009 at 15:48

    No not so much! Well.. that’s if they earned it honestly and not on the backs of the poor. Now if they extorted the weak and the poor then yes they should be. But to just say because you are rich and have do well for yourself that you owe the poor just because they are poor, I can’t go with that.

  29. 45 Tamatoa, Zurich
    October 23, 2009 at 15:51

    On the highest moral level nobody can rest untel there isn’t a hungry human being on the planet. This way we would fulfil our moral duty to observe the human rights. Within this process rich people would have to share their resources/money.
    On a pracitical level in Western state democracies they aren’t morally obliged to share their wealth. They do their share by paying taxes (correctly). As inhabitants they agree with the countires laws and policy on distributing wealth. If any inhabitant disagrees with these policies and laws it is this persons moral obligation to challenge the goverment by engaging in the democratic process with the goal to change tax- or other laws.
    If we apply social pressure and make them “give” to charities or else be stigmatised as greedy or inhumane then we would act immoral.

    • October 23, 2009 at 16:14

      One should never be forced to “give to charities” as you say, however I see the decadent and opulent lifestyles every single day here in Southwest Florida of those who give little or nothing, versus those like myself who have very little yet are willing to share to the last. I am personally involved in fundraising all the time, and have met only a handful of extremely wealthy individuals who have given a great deal, on the condition of anonymity, and that is the only genuine giving in my book. What is more wrong, sir, to pressure a person to whom even a million is but a drop in the bucket, or to allow your fellow countrymen to suffer and even die of starvation by doing little to nothing at all?

  30. 47 Mike in Seattle
    October 23, 2009 at 15:55


    Can you find me a single example of someone who wouldn’t take home $10 million dollars simply because they had just paid $90 million to their home government? I’d love to be in a situation where I had to hand over $90 million to the government so I could take home the remaining $10 million!

    Also, in your discussion about multiple votes, I’d like to point out that if one is rich, it’s easier to fund campaigns and make large donations to the candidates one supports. Those of modest means cannot do so.


    I hate the “working hard” argument, because there are so many in the world that work hard, yet never make it much farther than being able to afford food and shelter. I don’t begrudge someone who is rich.

    The thing people need to understand that in nations like the United States and Great Britain, the most significant factor that determines one’s economic class is the economic class of one’s parents. If it were the case that hard work was the main component, then you’d find more people moving up. But you aren’t, and wealth is accumulating at the top to an extent not seen since the Gilded Age of robber barons and the like.

    It’s not good for society when wealth is so concentrated in so few.

  31. 48 seaAdamwestiii
    October 23, 2009 at 15:59

    I believe there should be higher taxes paid by wealthy individuals who make a million dollars or more a year. I also believe the cap on Social Security should be eliminated and that would provide more people paying into SS. Course it’s not likely this will happen on SS because Politicians will not approve anything that would affect their purse or pocketbooks.

  32. 49 jens
    October 23, 2009 at 16:08

    what all you high tax people forget is that the rich will just walk away from the country if you tax them 90%. i live in one of the highest income and income tax states in the usa. i understand the solidarity principle, but when it gets to the point where i work crazy hours, plus having spend a large part of my life below the poverty level (apprenticships , undergrad and grad school, followed by poorly paid post-docs etc), i am getting a little annoyed that the “disprivilaged”, who made twice as much as i did for almost 2 decades are now demanding that i should be paying more tax to help them out. i am making a comfortable income, but by golly i worked and work pretty darn hard to have gotten there. now it is my turn to enjoy the benefits.

  33. 50 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 16:11

    What about the people who pay into social security but will never see a penny of it due to how much money they have? Why should they pay into a fund they won’t benefit from? Is that not discriminatory? Social security takes 8.5% of my income up to %95,000 a year, which is where the cap is. I will never see a penny of that money ever again. Yet, I lose 8.5% just to that alone…

  34. 51 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 16:12

    How sad that in 2009 this is even a debating point. As a UK citizen I am appalled at the way the gap between rich and poor has grown in the last 20 or so years, largely the result of vast earning gaps and a tax regime that benefits the rich.
    @ Gary
    “Germany, as well as the UK, Japan, the US and other countries, went through periods of great prosperity and what did they do with the abundant wealth?”
    Actually the Brits
    Actually the Brits, when they were on the floor economically after WW2 did indeed institute a fairer education system, decent welfare arrangements, not to mention the National Health Service, interesting that at that time of national solidarity, there was a will to do the moral thing. Now, having been perverted by monetarism, it seems it’s everyone for themselves.

  35. 52 Kim Johnson
    October 23, 2009 at 16:17

    Of course not, I don’t think so. You are socialist, communists in Britain. No, the rich do not have to give the lazy people their money. The rich provide jobs, pay most of the taxes and you want them to give there money away! What kind of an idiot question is this? A question from liberals like the British people.

    • October 23, 2009 at 16:44

      I take great offense to your extremely ignorant and obviously uninformed statement. The charity that I work for is specifically for those who were devastated by terminal illness and their families. Less than .05% of my clients are life long welfare recipients. The vast majority are from very hard working blue collar producing backgrounds and due to the lack of real healthcare or fair treatment of the sick, due to the death panels and evil acts of insurance companies in the USA, are forced into their current predicaments. How would you feel if you lost EVERYTHING, your house, cars, every single possession of any value, due to terminal illness, were too sick to work, yet had paid tens of thousands of dollars into SS and Medicare? Again the giving should never be compulsory but how DARE you assume that everyone, even that most, who need help need it because they are lazy? People who think like you, madam, obviously have a lazy intellect!

  36. 54 Tom K in Mpls
    October 23, 2009 at 16:21

    I am unemployed and my net worth is quite low by most standards. My opinion is *NEVER*. In general, ‘the rich’ got where they are because they made the best of a situation to profitably contribute to our society, or they inherited it and knew enough to keep the success working reasonably well. Either way they directly and indirectly create thousands of jobs. They do not succeed by letting money sit, they make it work, do things.

    I agree tax laws are far too complex. I support a national sales tax with no exemptions and no income tax. This would help streamline and localize production and make those that spend the most pay the most.

    The money needs to be controlled by those that know how to use it, not the government or those that want everything for free.

    • 55 Mike in Seattle
      October 23, 2009 at 18:04

      DO you consider those who worked on Wall Street and got us all into this mess to be “the biggest contributors to society?” They made millions and millions on an individual level, and yet because of their actions both on the job and in lobbying for poor laws we’re now in the worst economic position since the 1920s.

      • 56 Tom K in Mpls
        October 23, 2009 at 19:01

        I do not blame ‘ those who worked on Wall Street ‘ for my unemployment. Most of them have done an excellent job and truly earn their money. I blame the politicians that forced or created banks to give home loans to people that could not possibly pay them off. Banks like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That is what started the current problems.

        The thing that made this a true problem was these loans were insured via a method known as ‘derivatives’. Most of these were held by AIG. While the AIG derivatives were within regulations, the available funds were inadequate.

        We learned a painful two point lesson. 1: it is wrong to give loans to people without the means to cover the debt. and 2: We need to subject derivatives to the same laws as all other forms of insurance. Do not create a vague scapegoat, analyze and learn.

  37. 57 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 16:21

    On the subject of the voluntary sector or government, the problem is that the rich get a big kick out of their foundations and having everything named after them, nothing wrong with that in principle of course, but they also want the power (the real motivation for most people to get rich) to decide where to distribute their largesse.
    This paranoia about “big government” is very strange coming as it does from a country that preens itself as being possibly the world’s only “real” democracy – or maybe that’s it, democracy = the power to vote in a government and then let it do nothing.
    If the rich are left to cherry pick their own favourite causes, this will do nothing to ease the plight of those not in the currently fashionable groups. For me democracy means electing a government to represent me and my attitudes towards society and implement the policies that make for a fairer society. Of course my chosen people don’t always get elected, but that’s life, and democracy (if you will).

    October 23, 2009 at 16:25

    Its okay to shift to socialism but the arguments need to be a bit more concreat or else it will end up being nothing but hot air.
    I think most arguments here shows how we have been twisted out of our wits. The whole arguments goes back to the governments in general. If the right economic systems and public welfare policies were righted, who would think about the rich? It is that most governments have constantly abdicated their custodian role which have lead to the wealth of the majority of citizens trampled through commercial greed by corrupting the higher archelons of society and making bad policies that drain the tax payers coffer. Tell me which government does not want to be praised for those ‘bailouts’. Where were they when the mess happened?

    We all need to be aware that the rich have an upper hand. They will easily ship their money abroad – wherever they are promised less tax. After all why should they involuntarily be made to pay for someone else’s mistake?

  39. 59 James Turner
    October 23, 2009 at 16:32

    Yes, but not because they are rich. We’re all obliged to help our fellow man! I love this country and we’ve had moments when we were a bright light for the world. Lately integrity, compassion, sympathy have taken a back seat to partisanship, bigotry, absurd rhetoric, and ridiculous behavior! I’ m ashamed of what we have become, and fear if God exist nothing we do now we turn back Gods raft! A last we don’t appear to even be aware of our situation?

  40. 60 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 16:33

    @ Mike

    Think it thought. Say if you were told you can work until 5PM and make $300, or you can work after that, but still only make $300. Would you stay until 3AM, still earning only $300, with no other benefit, like chance of promotion? No. You would stop exactly at 5PM because you would make no more money after that point.

  41. 63 gary
    October 23, 2009 at 16:34

    Is anyone his brother’s keeper? If you believe so, then the wealthy have an obligation they are not discharging. The question then becomes, “Shall a majority enforce this obligation?” If you believe not, then, well never mind.

  42. October 23, 2009 at 16:39

    I do not think that the rich are moraly obliged to do anything of the sort. They pay taxes and rates,they create jobs,pay salaries and invest in innovations, creating more jobs,and also give others a dream to aim for. Flip-side,is the give us,give us brigade,with an ever open palm. The rich do give to charities,quite generously. But they do not have a moral obligation.

  43. 65 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 16:41

    @ Kim Johnson
    as a “socialist, communist” European, although I only belt out a rousing chorus of the Red Flag when seriously tired an emotional, I would like to ask how anyone can equate rich = hard working, poor = lazy.
    Apart from accidents of birth and the privileges these can bring, which make for a very bumpy playing field, particularly if health care and education actually cost money, getting rich is not some sort of virtue. Many people do jobs that are socially vital, teachers, nurses, road sweepers etc, without any hope of getting rich and why should they have to give up a lump of their salary so some fat cat speculator can live it up.

    • 66 Steve G
      October 23, 2009 at 18:52


      I believe that most people equate rich with “hard working” and poor with “lazy” based on their own personal life experiences. Those times where I have worked long and hard I have benefited…those times when I slacked (it happens) I regressed and did poorly. Nothing sinister… just human nature.

    • 67 Barnaby
      October 24, 2009 at 12:57

      I can’t believe some of the views expressed onthis blog. Although English I ‘ve lived in France for ages. Here education, health, tansport and culture are paid for by government taxes. This makes for a civilized society. England used to be. America never was. Of course the rich should put money back into the system!!!!!! Of course everyone should have access to healthcare, education, transport !!!!!
      And what’s all that rubish about the rich having made their millions thru hard work….???? Do you seriously think all these bankers that have caused such misery have worked harder than any nurse???. And do you think they deserve to hoard all this money?????

  44. 68 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 16:42

    That 5% extra is peanuts compared to the taxation disparities. I’m sure it’s even higher in europe, but the highest tax bracket in the US is 36%. It used to be 39%. and a while back it was over 80%. Whatever income in this higher bracket, is taxed at that rate, though your marginal rate will be lower. But just think about the inequalities here. Say if I were in the 36% bracket, paying 36% in taxes on all the income in that bracket, vs. someone who is paying 10% of their income in taxes, or someone paying no taxes, and still recieving benefits. It makes the taxpayers lesser people, have less rights, because they are paying for other people, denied those benefits themselves, yet still one man, one vote. If I have to pay fo reverything for you, pay more in taxes, and still have all the same “rights”, I have fewer rights, because I’m paying more than you are. How is that not discrimination? Look the other way on this one?

  45. 69 PeterLiu
    October 23, 2009 at 16:43

    It should be a crime against humanity when people are starving , sick or homeless and rich people hoard their wealth. Like a ship refusing to help a sinking ship.

  46. 70 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 16:45

    @ James Turner

    If we’re all obligated to help our fellow man, what about poor people? Should they not be obligated to help the even poorer? The poor in the US live like Kings compared to the poor in other parts of the world.. What they doing to help their fellow man? Or do you really men, only the well off are obligated to help their fellow man?

  47. 71 Jennifer
    October 23, 2009 at 16:52

    It is wonderful when you see people doing good things, especially people with more money than they truly need to live. However, they need to decide to share their excess not be forced to.

    Why do people feel that they are entitled to what someone else has rightfully earned. If they earned it, it’s theirs.

    Keep your hands out of my pie and I won’t go sticking mine in yours! I am not wealthy and I don’t see this entitlement issue some have. What’s mine is mine and what you earn, I deserve some too. 😦

  48. 72 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 16:54

    Here in the US, at least, there are other ways that the wealthy pay more. For instance, mandatory public education, is paid for from property taxes. While it’s true that renters indirectly pay property taxes in their rent, it’s really the people who own real property who are paying most of these taxes. So homeowners are paying for the education of your children. now the wealthy will have to pay even more taxes to pay for everyone’s (except wealthy people’s) healthcare? In return for what? It makes second class citizens out of the wealthy because they have all the same rights/privileges, but they have to pay for everyone else’s programs, making them less equal.

    Is it really equal if two neighbors, live side by side, and one of the neighbors is obligated to pay by the government, the cost of mowing the lawn of the other neighbor?Who has fewer rights? The neighbor paying for the other neighbor’s mowing, or the neighbor who is having his lawn mowed paid for by someone else?

    • 73 Tom K in Mpls
      October 23, 2009 at 22:23

      The problem with property taxes is that the education money stays in the community. So the rich pay to get the best schools for themselves. This resulted in ‘bussing’ programs to ‘make things fair’. More than not, what this has done is to spread violent crime to new areas. It seems violence is winning out over education.

  49. 74 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 17:00

    @ Peterliu

    “It should be a crime against humanity when people are starving , sick or homeless and rich people hoard their wealth. Like a ship refusing to help a sinking ship.”

    Only the rich? I’m sure there are people less well off than you, who have no access to the internet, yet it’s not a crime against humanity that you aren’t helping them, but expect only the wealthy to? What about you? What are your ob ligations, or are obligations only for other people? And say if one day someone poorer than you determines you are “wealthy” and they feel it was a crime against humanity that you didn’t help them?

  50. October 23, 2009 at 17:03

    The rich are morally obliged to share their riches with the poor. Luke 12 has a greed man who prefers to enjoy life, drink and what have you. Imagine how many people die due to poverty in our world while the rich pay a blind eye to the suffering people about them. Generosity ought to be the hymn of the rich. Let them spend sleepless nights when they hear and see the poor wallow in misery. Let their conscience remind them of the duty towards the poor brothers and sisters.
    Simeon Banda

  51. October 23, 2009 at 17:08

    In these financially difficult times, the rich have to chip in and share the bigger tax burden. Unfortunately this is reality! The poor and the middle-class have been battered by the economic downturn and the global economic recession. Thousands have been made redundant and so many families are living from hand to mouth as a result. People who are really rich and humane at the same time are few and far-between. Their golden hearts and their contributions to good causes should always be remembered. Just think of Bill and Melinda Gates. Their exemplary and charitable actions are simply amazing. They deserve a special prize from the United Nations! Other rich billionaires should take a page from their book of kindness.

  52. 77 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 17:19

    @ Pancha

    “In these financially difficult times, the rich have to chip in and share the bigger tax burden”

    Why do you use the term “chip in and share” when the wealthy already pay much more income taxes than do the non wealthy, or the poor? If you use the word “share”, then perhaps the poor should contribute something, anything, as well? Or does “share” to you mean ONLY the wealthy have to pay to support others? Maybe the poor could be required to do community service or something, or is this really just the rich being forced to provide for everyone else?

    • October 23, 2009 at 17:45

      Steve the poor are skin and bones; they just cannot afford to look after themselves. You cannot expect them to bleed further!The scale of the global economic downturn surprised even the professional bankers! So have a heart.: perhaps you could learn something from the actions of Bill Gates

  53. 79 Eva
    October 23, 2009 at 17:21

    The rich and the poor are equally paying 19 Percent value added tax for any good they buy. But there is a huge difference if you refer the percentage to the income in real price. Moreover every low income taxpayer is financing schools, highschools, operahouses, museums, the whole cultural landscape, but usually they are not the ones who have access to these values of society. But I think working people should get enough money for their work, and money should be directed toward more equality in chances.

    Berlin, Germany

    • 80 Steve G
      October 23, 2009 at 20:27


      And that is why the VAT is a regressive tax. It taxes all, rich and poor, at the same rate.

      Here in the USA we have a progressive Federal income tax (0-36%) , with increasing tax percentages with increasing income. The more you make the more Federal tax as a percent of income you pay. We also have in Ohio a flat rate State Tax (5.5%) on income, a local sales tax (7%) and a local income tax (2.5%) levied on income in the municipality where you work and another where you live. If you should make income from investments there is a special capital gains tax (35%) and when you die there is an estate tax (75%). Social Security is not a “tax” per se but it’s another 8.5% the government gets from each of us.

      Do you better understand why this may be a sore subject for some people.

      Also in the USA Opera Houses, Museums and the cultural landscape are paid for by donations and patrons. The people who use them pay for them. Seems to make sense.

  54. 81 Dan
    October 23, 2009 at 17:25

    @Mike in Seattle
    Your argument does not hold water.
    The very premise of America and why immigrants keep coming here is that if one applies themselves and works hard they will acheive success. The definition of that success is not yours to make nor is it measured by dollars.
    However, with hard work it is possible to become a multimillionaire.
    God help us if the rich are taxes at 90% as you suggest as the motivation to succeed will disappear and capital will flee this country faster than water fowing over the Niagra Falls. The utopia you seem to want to live in does not recognize reality that what the Government so easily takes does not mean it will give away in the manner you want but if they did, what stops them from stopping making that payment?
    As for me, I am not willing to help those that are lazy and live off the Government dime but I am willing to help those that are climbing to better their lives and the lives of their family.

  55. October 23, 2009 at 17:33

    The rich are obliged to pay more but so too are Government obliged to tax more equitably and to develop in the interests of the majority. That means ensuring that the funds which are collected are put to the uses for which they were intended. The implications of the question, in other words, are far reaching not only in terms of just taxing the rich but also creating the means by which more equity is achieved in system.

  56. 83 Citizen Dan
    October 23, 2009 at 17:36

    Please apply Maslow’s Hierarchy to this question . Money is obviously not the main barrier to self-actualization for anyone with more than several million net worth . In a country that calls itself a democracy , personal assets above that should always be heavily taxed to provide basic physical and safety needs , at very least , of their citizens . Democratic government supposedly represents all citizens . All tax is social policy . Should we promote greed for mega-wealth over compassion for our fellows ?

  57. October 23, 2009 at 17:36

    Anyone making between netting $10,000 and $100,000 should pay 10% of that income with no deductions. Only deductions allowed are business expenses,
    advertising, raw materials costs, transportation etc.

    Anyone making over $100,000 after business expenses should pay 20%, no need for anyone to pay any more than that for federal income tax.

    State taxes should be about 5%

    local taxes another 5%

    A simple tax code would pull in more than a complicated one, where tax avoidance, becomes the national sport. All taxes should reward the payers directly with something like health insurance, and or retirement funds.

    Otherwise you end up with something like the Americans have, a bunch of crooks who refuse to pay anything……look at our Secretary of the Treasury a tax cheat…….our main Congress person Charlie Wrangle in charge of the ways and means Committee….another Tax Cheat……These are the leaders…..a corrupt system that deserves to fail


  58. 86 Kent in Iowa
    October 23, 2009 at 17:42

    In my opinion if that fine group of gentleman would like to give away their money, nobody should stand in their way. However I don’t think its appropriate for them to expect the same of their peers.

    I suspect that their real back story is they’re willing to pay more taxes as long as everyone else has to too. But that they won’t if nobody else does.

  59. 87 Steve/oregon
    October 23, 2009 at 17:47


    What about a soldier they risk there lives for the country and when they get back from war they still have to pay taxes…. just like everyone else they still have to pay for healthcare (for anything not related to the service) shouldn’t if anyone veterans get a break on there taxes? Or would you be opposed to that too because that would descrimatory to everyone who chose not to risk there life to protect others?

  60. 88 jens
    October 23, 2009 at 17:50

    why don’t the unemployed contribute their time to doing something constructive for society in return for the help they are getting? Naaaa that would not be politically correct to demand that. But heck fleece the rich is the way to go. what many forget, is that the rich will pack their bags and leave and with it comes a loss of revenue AND worse loss of investment and jobs.

    beware of what you wish for.

  61. 89 Ros Atkins
    October 23, 2009 at 17:51

    Hi all. Please say where you are when posting – it always gives us that bit more context on the point you’re making. Thanks.

  62. 90 Mike in Seattle
    October 23, 2009 at 17:59


    During the second world war, the United States had a top marginal tax of 90%. Why didn’t the rich leave the nation in droves then?

  63. 94 Tom K in Mpls
    October 23, 2009 at 18:05

    Many say the US is the worst when it comes to the rich being irresponsible and problematic. Let me name some names, historic and current. Getty, Gates Guggenheim, Carnegie, Smithson… do I need to go on?

    • 95 Mike in Seattle
      October 23, 2009 at 18:19

      Carnegie isn’t a good example. Also, I’d like to point out the folks on Wall Street who made tons of money, and screwed the rest of us out of that prosperity.

  64. 96 gary
    October 23, 2009 at 18:07

    The question of wealth-sharing is an unfailingly entertaining one because of prodigious amounts of ignorance uncovered when it is discussed. Very few people can correctly define wealth, its origins, the exact meaning of the verb “to earn,” let alone understand the nature of “obligation.”

  65. 97 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:08

    If those rich germans want to pay more taxes, why don’t they just send a larger check to the government? Why are they trying to get it mandated for everyone else who makes as much money? It would be like a group of three people in my neighborhood insisting that everyone build a homeless shelter on their property (assume away zoning issues). if you want to, great, but dont force others to do something because you want to do it .

  66. 98 Randy in California
    October 23, 2009 at 18:10

    Why is the funding of governments the responsibility of individuals? All wealth is generated by business activities. The cost of most governments is around 3% of GDP. Why don’t we just tax 3% of all GDP and let every wage earner keep all of their money.

  67. 99 Shannon in Ohio
    October 23, 2009 at 18:15

    Why are working class people like me now paying bonuses to incompetent Wall Street brokers? I am convinced that this breed of millionaire regards the rest of us as something less than human. Tax them to hilt.

    • 100 Steve G
      October 23, 2009 at 20:32


      Tell your member of the House of Representatives to stop spending your money.

      They control spending and they decided at your behest to bail out Wall Street, GM, Chrysler, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and a host of others. Incompetence should get it’s just rewards….unemployment.

  68. 101 vijay
    October 23, 2009 at 18:16

    Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?

    By helping others they help themselves live in a better society, a strong civil society ,otherwise you end up like countries such as Brazil,Russia where ther are vast differences between the rich and poor and all the inherent problems that come with inequality.

  69. 102 Mike in Seattle
    October 23, 2009 at 18:18

    I’d like to point out that if charity is the answer, we wouldn’t be suffering. We’re already under a voluntary system, and it’s not enough.

  70. 103 patti in cape coral
    October 23, 2009 at 18:18

    By American standards I am near the poverty level. When I travel outside the country I am considered wealthy. I understand the argument that the rich are not morally obliged to share their wealth, but when I see a hungry child, a starving parent, or people picking through garbage for something to eat, the argument seems hollow to me and completely falls apart, no matter how logical it is.

  71. 104 Tom D Ford
    October 23, 2009 at 18:19

    Over the last thirty years Conservatives have politically changed the governments in order to redistribute wealth upward to themselves. They have De-Regulated and stopped Enforcement of still existing Regulations to their own immorally greedy benefit.

    We need to reverse decades of descent into Conservatism and go back to a more fair distribution of wealth.

    What family would let their two or three year old children raid the cookie jar in the way that Conservatives have raided the cookie jars of our bodies politic?

    We, the Family of Man, need to go back to strongly regulating Conservatives and limiting their apparently insatiable greed. They act like children and they ought to be Regulated and limited like children.

  72. 105 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:22

    The top 1% of US Income earners pay more than 50% of ALL income taxes. So how can you say they don’t pay their fare share? 50% of American pay NO, ZERO, NONE, income taxes…How is 1% of people paying 50% of the tax burden already not “enough”. Should they pay 99% of all income taxes? How is that equitable?

  73. 106 Christopher Erb
    October 23, 2009 at 18:22

    Listening to the show right now….A point few are ever willing to make is that on the whole wealthy people benefit from the already existing tax base more than poor people, and therefore, should be willing to pay a higher percentage.

  74. 107 Jonathan Simeone
    October 23, 2009 at 18:24

    This is a great idea! The wealthy german people who have signed the petition deserve much credit. It’s a shame that so many rich people in the United States would never agree to this kind of arrangement. This is especially sad since wealthy Americans pay far less in taxes than their European counterparts.

  75. 108 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:25

    I do agree with Bruno in one sense, that I would trust the German a lot more with the tax money than I would with the US government. We’re used to incompetent government here in the US, but Germany, it might be a stereotype, is known for efficiency.

  76. 109 Jeremy in Singapore
    October 23, 2009 at 18:25

    Economists universally accept that a tax system should be in some way progressive (i.e: taxes the rich more than the poor). If there should be a government, the rich has to bear more of the burden than the poor. But if we were to consider the case of Germany, since it has such relatively high taxes on the rich as compared to other countries, it is impertinent to consider the problem of substitutability. If taxes are raised even more, the rich will just move their wealth out, perhaps to Switzerland, and that means less investment for Germany. It is more important to increase taxes on the rich in those developed economies with already high income inequalities, like Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA, with the three most unequal income distributions amongst developed economies.

  77. 110 Tom K in Mpls
    October 23, 2009 at 18:27

    Hey Bruno and other rich guys world wide. If you have faith in, and want to support the government, and help the people, what about this. Up to a certain limit, why don’t you match the amount your country cuts its debt?

  78. 111 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:27

    For every person here, who isn’t rich, but has enough money to buy a coat, do you give your coat to the first homeless person you see when it’s cold outside? You can afford a new coat. Why shouldn’t you be forced to give your coat to the homeless person? Yet you can force rich people since the argument is that they can afford it? Well, you can afford to buy a new jacket, and the homeless person needs the coat more than you do.

    • 112 Linda from Italy
      October 23, 2009 at 21:23

      The point is Steve, with the yawning earnings gap in the US, UK and other “de-socialised” economies, the rich buy a new coat when the old one has gone out of fashion and they probably have a wardrobe full of perfectly good coats they are just bored with. These people should dole out their old coats – sorry that sounds like charity – ouch – but my point remains, those who have unecessary wealth should spread it around a bit.
      By the way, have you ever read that first class journlaist Charles Dickens, who chronicled the horros of a society built on self-righteous capitalims with welfare in the hand of so-called philanthropists – Oliver Twist anyone?

      • 113 Tom K in Mpls
        October 23, 2009 at 22:38

        Actually Linda, in most ways they do give to others. And most people don’t see it. Those coats don’t magically appear in stores. People earn a living on the resources used. Others on the manufacturing. Then there is the transportation, sales and maintenance of the products. What many propose would undermine much of this.

        And authors of fiction have no more credibility than you or I. But they can have some good ideas, just like us.

  79. 114 Michael
    October 23, 2009 at 18:29

    The rich should not have to pay higher taxes. There should be a flat tax rate for every citizen. Penalizing people who worked hard to make a lot of money is immoral.

  80. 115 Syed Nadeem
    October 23, 2009 at 18:29

    Pleas make sure that these rich gentlemen are not agents of Germany goverment., looking for extra cash

  81. 116 jens
    October 23, 2009 at 18:29

    a lot of the debate seems to have the undercurrent of jealousy…..

  82. 117 Tom D Ford
    October 23, 2009 at 18:29

    The rich don’t create wealth, they just manipulate the politics and laws, “the system”, in order redistribute the wealth that actual workers have created, to themselves.

    The latest bankers bailout is just the most blatant example of that. Those bankers did not earn that bailout money and they do not deserve it, but they act as if the taxpayers owe it to them by some sort of “Divine Right” to have actual workers support them in their wealthy lifestyle.

    We got rid of the “Divine Right” of Kings and now it is time to get rid of the “Divine Right” of the wealthy.

  83. 118 Chris in Ohio
    October 23, 2009 at 18:30

    Re-posting to put location info in….

    In Ohio, listening on the Vermont Public Radio stream on my phone…

    A point few are ever willing to make is that on the whole wealthy people benefit from the already existing tax base more than poor people, and therefore, should be willing to pay a higher percentage.

  84. 119 Half-Not
    October 23, 2009 at 18:30

    The argument for this is a fairly sound ethical concept. The planet earth is a physical resource, to which we all currently belong or call home. When we get rich on this planet, this takes resources which in a sense belong to a collective. Because no one theoretically “owns” the planet, as these finite resources are used by anyone we in a sense, all pay a small price. This creates a obligation among all of us, and ties us together on this planet, our home.

    Money is made from resources, it partially belongs to us all regardless of how or who acquires it. Of course we take personal possession of it and can make more of it then others. But a portion of that money belongs to everyone, it is a royalty we owe to the collective earth and its people.

    – Portland, Oregon

  85. 120 Peter in jamaica
    October 23, 2009 at 18:32

    i don’t think that they are obligated but they should pay more taxes and get tax break when it can be established that they contributed to those in need. However in this country the rich are taking advantage of the situation and are telling their workers that they can’t afford to pay this or that. The truth is they do not want go give up their lavish life style so they pressure their workers by cutting their salaries while they still reap the huge benefits that they assign to themselves in there pay packages which are not subjected to the cuts imposed. So even though they take a salary cut it makes no real impact on them so they can ride the wave with ease while the rest of us struggle and fight to survive.
    They can afford, they benefited from the big financial boom in the beginning so yes they should pay more.
    In Jamaica we don’t call it “Recession” we call it “A Rich Session” and here a party is referred to as session.

  86. 121 Andreas
    October 23, 2009 at 18:33

    I think wealthy people should pay higher taxes in tough times.

    It would be best if there was international agreement on this; otherswise you end up with the rich running off to Monaco or Switzerland.

    The idea that rich people “own” their riches is a little questionable, given that they depend on society at large to produce their wealth (e.g. dividends come from companies that need society to operate in), protects it and give meaning to it. Meaning, in the sense that you can convert cash to good and services.

    Come on – solidarity is important, people. Talking a little from the rich CAN make a huge difference for the poor – this isn’t socialism, it’s a fact. Is it hard? Sure. Is there a risk of mismanagement? Certainly. This IS hard. But that’s no reason not to do it.

  87. 122 Lucie, Prague
    October 23, 2009 at 18:33

    First, I would like to thank to your guest for his social responsobility, courage and generosity.

    I am not saying that rich people should be obliged to pay more money. But generally it is not a nonsense. i agree with the previous caller that money is simply a piece of paper we give a certain value. and being rich or poor is very much a matter of good luck. rich people strongly benefit from the poorer part of society for all their life. i am sure they go to doctors, went to schools….etc. Nobodys life depends only on what he has earned. So it is a great thing he appreciates it and is able to share.

  88. 123 Syed Nadeem
    October 23, 2009 at 18:34

    I have never paid taxes in my life, I live in a tax free society, and frankly i cannot understand these German rich guys taxes theory.
    Philantropy is the right way to help the causes

    • 124 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 20:18

      Syed, have you ever heard of Reagan’s “trickle down” theory? It did not work. Philanthropy is well and good, but not dependable. And not fair. The rich should pay more than they do. They can still be rich comparatively to everyone else, but things have swung too far in their favour, and it needs to be pulled back.

      Has anyone here ever heard of the philosophical argument called “The Tragedy of the Commons”? Look it up. There is a point where giving access to use of resources to those who can get them becomes a battle of the guy with the most power (wealth) always wins then everybody loses. Balance is necessary, and it cannot be left to chance.

    October 23, 2009 at 18:34

    Something has to be done!

    Americas top rich people are driven by Greed and cant think any further than the end of the day, they don’t create anything, they make their money by cleverly moving currency to create wealth in the markets for themselves. Build up the stock price then take the golden parachute strait to the Bahamas.

    European business men think more long term and they are aware that if you erode the middle class to the point that they can no longer afford there companies services there companies sales will suffer. They are not just interested in the market price, as we have seen here in America over the last few years.

    Make a companies value mean something once more. And not just the stock price!

  90. 126 T
    October 23, 2009 at 18:34

    I’m hearing a double standard on your program. The rich are entitled to have control over their money. If you want more money, work harder. What if a rich person suddenly becomes homeless? Does this mean that no one should help them because it’s their fault?

    • 127 T
      October 23, 2009 at 18:34

      I’m listening online in Kansas City.

    • 128 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 20:08

      I agree with your comment, some are under the illusion that rich are that way because they worked for it. That is true of a minority of rich, but many are rich because of either inheritance or corruption. It is also an illusion that those who AREN’T rich are that way because they have not earned it.

  91. October 23, 2009 at 18:35

    ——–A level tax across the board….the same percentage for everyone
    but thats not the question..YES they ARE morally obligated…some people who live in the bubbles wealth creates NEED someone to show them…”hey, that would be a moral thing to do”…BTU what would really drive this idea…is have governments recognize the individuals that do and throw a party….”PARAPHRASING MR. LINCOLN..”It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one is worried about who gets credit”…..use this ..turned around
    recognition and public thanks WILL drive those who can..to DO

  92. October 23, 2009 at 18:38

    Some points which sadly haven’t been heard yet are these:
    •Of course people such as Rony Fox don’t trust the government – its their job to discredit their ability to spend money, in order to counter the government’s right to tax at all.

    •The rich do pay taxes anyway, and in fact richer people in western countries are fine with this. So the question is are they fair? The is answer is no – lower income people pay most of their tax in sales and income tax, yet money earned from interest is lower in most countries, so the rich are in effect paying lower rates. This is unfair.

    •The rich benefit hugely from the taxes the pay, both indirectly and directly. The idea that their taxes mainly go to help the poor is a complete misrepresentation. The rich use roads, airports, the arts (more than the poor), and, now painfully, bail outs – immense handing out of taxpayers money to the richest in society. Quite the reverse of the idea that the rich subsidize the poor.

    •Finally, the rich benefit indirectly from more equal societies – they are safer, healthier and more pleasant places to be. This is called enlightened self interest.

  93. 131 Sade
    October 23, 2009 at 18:39

    I take issue with “their” wealth. There would be no wealth without the people who sweat blood and tears.

    Surely, after the recent economic fiasco, more people are questioning the supposed given that the rich are somehow more necessary to the prosperity of the society???

  94. 132 Dirk in Vancouver, WA
    October 23, 2009 at 18:39

    I think question (Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?) is problem. Morals are relative. That is to say, they are different for each person and/or society.

    The question should be whether or not the world should require the rich to share their wealth.

  95. 133 Tom D Ford
    October 23, 2009 at 18:39

    The idea of “charity” is a leftover from the days of Kings and Noblemen, of “Noblesse Oblige”, or “noble obligation”, to make themselves “feel good” by giving some small pittance back to the people they made poor.

    Charity never did work , it has always been a Conservative “feel good” part of an unjust system of economics of distributing the fruits of labor.

    We need to put limits on the top and a safety net on the bottom, moderate the extremes.

  96. 134 Halima
    October 23, 2009 at 18:39

    Three cheers to the Germans!! This is a good idea. The best I have heard for years.

  97. 135 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:41

    The guest has a point, but I think that wouldn’t apply to the richest of the rich. There are people here in the DC area, who bought houses when cheap, but the houses became very valuable, and they couldn’t afford to pay the yearly real estate tax on it, so they had to sell and move becaues they couldn’t afford the taxes. This was more of an issue when the real estate values were higher. But you can only pay a tax if you have liquid assets to pay it with. If you just have a property that has become valueable, you’d have to sell it just to pay the taxes if you didn’t have much income.

  98. 136 jens
    October 23, 2009 at 18:43

    the excesses of some are now the downfall for many. what limit do you set as rich? 100K, 1M, 10M????? if anybody would tax me 90%, I would leave the country. what is the point of going to work if you end up with nothing, so that Mr & Mrs welfare queen can sit on their behind and have the comfort of a council flat etc etc. there are entire segements of society, especially in britain, who don’t know what a job is, because the goverment picks up their tap and i pay for it.

  99. 137 Halima
    October 23, 2009 at 18:44

    NO it is not the government that is responsible, it is the rich who got us in this situation!

  100. October 23, 2009 at 18:44

    If the Rich want us to buy their products, they may do well to consider paying more of their fair share of taxes, and reducing our share. Otherwise, they will rob themselves of future cash flow. At this point, it is a self serving action on their part to give the consuming public more disposable income!!

  101. 139 Kevin PE
    October 23, 2009 at 18:45

    I believe the whole issue is a matter of balance. If you suddenly gathered all the wealth in the world it would be finite – dynamic but finite, like water, it is a closed system. The problem is that it tends to pool and congregate much like a gravitational attraction – hence the saying “money makes money”; or rather “money attracts money”. This is how it is in the natural order. Our social obligation is to intervene in order to “redistribute” this wealth in such a way as not to totally disrupt the order, but at the same time maintain a balance. A practical example I would suggest is a dramatic narrowing in earnings between top executives and employees. This does not mean massive increases for lower earners, but rather the other way around. The excuse put forward “So how to we attract and keep top executives” doesn’t fly. If all companies complied there wouldn’t be an issue. Remember that salaries make up the largest ongoing expense for business, and their profit margin is factored in. The disproportional distribution of wealth begins right here, with a tiny percentage at executive level consuming a massive chunk of the salary budget. An intervention in salary expenditure should have the knock-on effect of reducing commodity prices while maintaining profits, and therefore enabling lower earners more buying power. The system is still closed; the same amount is still in circulation.

    • 140 Kevin PE
      October 24, 2009 at 11:06

      Actually my example is pretty naïve; I haven’t factored in the great attractor – greed.
      Still I think the starting point in breaking the status quo is somewhere there. Person A makes disproportionally (very important) more than person B. Person A’s offspring get better opportunities, better schooling etc. They then qualify to continue where parent A left off. Person B has just the opposite and all the little Person B’s are pretty much doomed to continue being Person B’s.

      • 141 A.Z.Utilitarian
        October 28, 2009 at 05:59

        I like the idea that the elected representatives of the country/nation/etc. are trying to manage the process for the sustained survival of the general populace. I am against allowing the greed/ambition of a few individuals to destroy or coopt the entire playing field. Your idea of balance was a good one. There has to be something in it for everyone.

  102. 142 Half-Not
    October 23, 2009 at 18:46

    The argument for this is a fairly sound ethical concept. The planet earth is a physical resource, to which we all currently belong or call home. The rich get rich on this planet, this takes resources which in a sense belong to a collective. Because no one theoretically “owns” the planet, as these finite resources are used by anyone we in a sense all pay a small price. This creates a obligation among all of us, and ties us together on this planet, our home.

    Money is made from resources, it partially belongs to us all regardless of how or who acquires it. Of course we take personal possession of it and can make more of it then others. But a portion of that money belongs to everyone it is a royalty we owe to the collective earth and its people.

    – Portland, Oregon

  103. 143 Dan in Massachusetts
    October 23, 2009 at 18:46

    It sounds to me like those advocating that the rich are “obligated” to pay more taxes are effectively quoting Karl Marx: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

    This is antithetical to capitalism. The rich drive the economy, creating jobs and opportunity for those less wealthy. I believe that all citizens should pay the same percentage of their income in taxes (I’ll leave the exact percentage for another day), but that no citizen should pay a HIGHER percentage of their income in taxes simply because they have a higher income.

  104. 144 Anthony
    October 23, 2009 at 18:46

    Why do these people keep talking about “the government” like that. We ARE a democracy, and WE vote them in. It sounds like these people should be doing more to change how our government works.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  105. 145 Tom D Ford
    October 23, 2009 at 18:47

    This rich guy talks about valuing his own unlimited freedom to take and keep peoples money but I bet you he doesn’t value the freedom of poor people to arm themselves and take it back.

    One mans freedoms and liberties stop when they meet the freedoms and liberties of another man.

    In theory, of course, in reality the man with the gold makes the rules, and to the detriment of the man without the gold.

  106. 147 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 18:48

    @ Jeff

    The rich already pay WAY more than you do. How is that “fair”, and how does it become “more fair” by them having to pay even that much more than you do already?

    • 148 Halima
      October 23, 2009 at 20:11

      Because they get more. And sometimes, mind you, deserve less. Taxes for the rich at present mean they pay less, per income, and per ability than the poor. That makes it “fair” for them to pay more! duh. Steve – do the maths.

  107. 149 understandit
    October 23, 2009 at 18:49

    Whether they admit it or not, it seems that the wealthy have often benefited disproportionately from the societal and financial systems, and it becomes easier to apply leverage and risk capital as one becomes richer. So that’s why a graduated tax system is fair. The wealthy are simply in a better position to help maintain the workings of a stable, civil society (and help bail out those “too big to fail” investment banks). But jacking up taxes simply to “share the wealth” could be something else. If it’s BEYOND providing basic social safety nets, and support systems aimed at helping people lift themselves out of poverty, then maybe not.

  108. 150 Mark in FL
    October 23, 2009 at 18:49

    In Germany, perhaps.
    Here in the States, The richest only just got that way by sucking us dry, and bankrupting our government. I don’t think they’re quite ready yet.

  109. 151 Lew in Cincinnati
    October 23, 2009 at 18:50

    The U.S. has already begun to tax the rich. They closed down a hefty percentage of off shore tax haven accounts. At one point this accounted for 10trillion in U.S. dollars. But to just increase the taxes is not going to help. We need to generate revenue some other way. Ie internet sales tax or marijuana stamp act.

  110. 152 Jesus , San Francisco, Ca
    October 23, 2009 at 18:50

    I think, raising taxes to wealthy people won’t solve our economic problems because it is not fair that someone else pay others without earning. I think the solution is if all wealthy people create jobs and are well-paid to help unemployment to go back to work and that way everybody is happy feeling much better than getting money for free. Wealthy people will feel much happier seeing that their money is well spent too.

  111. 153 David
    October 23, 2009 at 18:53

    It is the height of hypocrisy to blame the governmnet for the fiscal crisis when it has been the wealthy who by their contributions and lobbies have put people in government to pass laws favorable to the rich that have resulted in this catastrophe.

    • 154 Tom K in Mpls
      October 23, 2009 at 21:26

      I blame the government that takes legal bribes to do whatever. I do not blame the businesses that work to their own benefit within the legal system. The laws need to change. And unfortunately, that is up to the government.

  112. 155 Mario Gordon
    October 23, 2009 at 18:55

    The rich should choose if they wish to have additional tax. Most persons have to work and plan and make sacrifices in order to obtain the possession they have.


  113. 156 Tom D Ford
    October 23, 2009 at 18:58

    The idea that an unelected rich person makes better decisions about how to take care of the poor that an elected government of The People, by the People, and for the People, is just self serving nonsense.

    • 157 Linda from Italy
      October 23, 2009 at 23:12

      And this from a nation that wants to impose this spurious form of democracy on the rest of the world – almost makes Sharia sound inviting

    • 158 Tom K in Mpls
      October 24, 2009 at 02:03

      I am much more likely to trust the decisions of someone that earned their position than someone that had a good PR team and plenty of campaign funds. While this position serves this citizen best, it is not self serving unless a politician says it.

  114. 159 Ciprian
    October 23, 2009 at 18:58

    Taking more from the rich is a way to do it. Still asking them to give more is totally wrong. You will get less in return for your asking, There should be not tax increase neither, this will get the economic situation worse. What should be done is to increase the power of the trade unions. This was already done in USA back to ’30, and this can be done now.

  115. 160 Megan from Oregon
    October 23, 2009 at 18:59

    I am not wealthy, but not poor. I can live comfortably with a family of 5 on $40,000 a year. It is tragically funny to hear the guest talk about people you “consider wealthy” who live with an income of $650,000. The wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes, no one should be hungry or homeless. Philanthropy is not the answer. Bravo to these gentlemen and women in Germany. It is during tough times that the true character of men shows and great men and women emerge.

  116. 161 Tunde
    October 23, 2009 at 19:01

    My name is tunde,i am a Nigerian living in Malaysia.my contribution to this issue is that paying more tax to the government is absolutely a bad idea,the put us in this mess in the first place therefore given them more tax is just you wasting your money because you are making rich politcian that there taxes aren’t even included in this richer.the best thing to do is to establish or contribute to charitable organization and be in control of your own philanthropic right.

    October 23, 2009 at 19:02

    I think the Right in America has done a marvelous Public Relations job when they manage to get ordinary citizens to defend their lavish lifestyles and over excess.

    Remember “Joe the Plumber”

    And the new one “we don’t want healthcare for the ordinary people” Those poor insurance companies will suffer.

    Trickle down Economics is not working and most people don’t trust the Government to distribute wealth, so we need to think of a better system quickly.

    October 23, 2009 at 19:07

    I think it is the high time we make our world neeless of charity. Yes we can. The ordinary worker is even more than double taxed by the state thereby increasing destitution. A cursory look at the payslip of a regular worker is nothing but a long list of deductions. As if that is not enough, the same worker is made to buy overtaxed goods without refund. Through these methods the state makes sure that the salary given at the end of the month is back to treasury before the first week has ended. At the end of month the same person collects the same recycled pay with increasing insecurity.
    Lastly there have been rich people from time immemorials; but why the many super rich and the many insecure legitimate citizens all of a sudden? Something is out of joint and this may lead to homophorbia.

  119. 164 nora
    October 23, 2009 at 19:12

    The rich need to address poverty so they can travel freely rather than be hunted down like the Russian royal family. It is a matter of practical self-care.

  120. 165 Tom K in Mpls
    October 23, 2009 at 19:32

    Quote from BBC on Twitter: “Marek says this is happening already as taxes are lower in eastern europe many companies are moving there.”

    This is how wealth is fairly spread. It is a matter of situation and choice. Now just watch and see how things go for most of the eastern European people.

  121. 166 Jim Newman
    October 23, 2009 at 20:11

    Hello again
    As I am an adherent of the maxim of solidarity expressed in the words: from those who have to those who need. I think the governement should be first and foremost the agency for creating a balance in society. At the moment it isn’t and that fact is hidden because of the economic colonialism practiced by the rich countries with regard to the poor countries. In fact our standard of living is payed for by poorer weaker countries.

  122. October 23, 2009 at 20:27

    Classic question. Summarized answer : Morality is personal, they should set aside more money for the state temporarily and in a better way.

    The wage divide is something that everybody,from Peter Schiff to Paul Krugman, agree is wrong. The wages of the middle class has not gone up the last 30 years, that itself is a problem.

    But how? In the short run, I think that raising taxes intelligently is a good idea. I am also a person that think that we should lower our corporate taxes to around 15% and increase our max tax rate to 75%. Though, it sounds bad, but when companies make more money, the chances of wages and jobs being plenty is higher.

    Secondly, for my USA, where is the manufacturing? Why are we not talking about making things again? As long as that is not addressed, then forget it!

  123. 168 jens
    October 23, 2009 at 21:09

    “The man behind the petition, Dieter Lehmkuhl, told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel that there were 2.2 million people in Germany with a fortune of more than 500,000 euros.”

    500,000 euros is hardly a fortune…….a lot of people who have this kind of money have worked like crazy and lived a very fruggal live. to punish these people is simply not acceptable.

    • 169 Tom K in Mpls
      October 23, 2009 at 22:03

      Wow, we agree on something. I have a related bit. In the US, Bush Jr did one thing right. By law , he created two groups, the ‘rich’, and the ‘not rich’. By his definition the ‘rich’ are those with an income of over $250k/yr or a net worth of over $2M. This definition applied to several laws that helped the ‘not rich’ invest more effectively and keep wealth regarding inheritance laws. They had no effect on the ‘rich’.

      We won’t get into what I think of other things Bush Jr did.

  124. 170 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 21:33

    Genuine question – in the US is anyone working class any longer? Or is that very expression too ideologically incorrect?
    Interesting for what is supposed to be a classless society.

    • 171 Tom K in Mpls
      October 23, 2009 at 22:07

      Diversity always gets grouped into classes. This is true for people, products and pets. That is what the USA is all about.

    • 172 Bert
      October 24, 2009 at 23:19

      The US is classless? Not really. There are at very least the professionals, the so-called “working class,” and the super-rich, such as pro athletes and Hollywood stars. And a few CEOs from mega-corporations here and there.

      Yes, there still are people picking up trash, fixing toilets, and mowing lawns, even in the country where the roads are paved with gold.

    • 173 Gosia from Poland
      October 25, 2009 at 11:42

      Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth? No, not rich… All of us who are more fortunate… and it does not mean you have to be rich, earning millions. There is always someone who has less, even if what you have seems not much to you. I would not like people to put responsibility on rich people. I believe we all can contribute something. It might be a widow’s mite, but multiplied can move mountains.
      I think hihger tax for higher income is a punishment for those who have managed to achieve something, many of them, by hard work. And if they do not contribute through taxes, they do so by creating jobs ( setting up their businessess or simply going shopping).

  125. 174 M. Carter
    October 23, 2009 at 21:35

    As a high school student in the 1950’s I was taught that the purpose of taxation by the “Democratic” US Government, was to provide an infrastructure so that the businesses created by citizens could thrive.
    Education, water, electricity, communications (phone and postal service) transportation (roads, bridges, railways, and ports ) were for the benefit of all.
    The companies, supported by this tax based structure then provided jobs. (How can a government provide the types of jobs created by companies and industry?) Businesses and jobs provided the tax money to continue this healthy cycle.
    Those who benefited the most, the wealthy, paid the highest taxes as part of a fair and just system.
    Monopolies were illegal. (The reason for that is now very obvious.)
    Compare that tax system with what we have today.
    What is the purpose of Government if everything has been sold off to the few who own these gigantic private monopolies ?
    It seems that what tax money is collected goes to support the military industrial complex which is run by these monopolistic global corporations. No taxes left to renew bridges, roads and schools.
    Frankly, I think the followers of Machiavelli, Ann Rand, and the idiot who invented the game of “Monopoly” have a lot to answer for.

  126. 175 GTR5
    October 23, 2009 at 21:46

    No, they are not morally obligated to pay for the poor. However, our government should close all the obscene loopholes the rich use to evade paying income taxes. Does the name Bernie ring a bell? I also do not believe that 1% of the rich pay 60% of our income taxes. There are just too many loop holes in the system for them not to pay. I also find our system quite corrupt when the congress takes our taxmoney to give to the rich bankers and wall street execs who in turn shove money down the politicians pockets and we the people have to pay for this. Yes, the rich should pay more of their fair share in taxes but not go into the pockets of our politicians. Drain the Swamp in 2010!

  127. 176 rickatatastan
    October 23, 2009 at 21:49

    The real issue with wealth is that with it comes power and with that power comes the ability to circumvent laws and taxes which is something that the poor are incapable of. Expensive lawyers and accountants bend the rules so that wealthy people are able to hide away huge amounts of cash which they gained from the hard work of those poorer than them. This cash does not “trickle down” at all (as some have theorised in the past) and coagulates at the top of the wealth pyramid in Swiss* bank accounts. And then there is the idea of non-domicile wealth, where wealthy people live in a location such as Monaco (which has preposterously low taxes), but spend much of their time in a country such as England. Let’s go over that again – very wealthy people living in England but pretending to live abroad so they can avoid tax. It’s ugly, isn’t it?

    *I’m aware of the recent grey list changes, and it’s my belief that while they are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough.

  128. 177 Jabbar Fazeli
    October 23, 2009 at 23:05

    The money I earn is my money and not the publics’s, just like my debts aren’t.
    Progressive taxation is fare but targeted extra taxation is theft.
    ps. I dont have large savings in the bank, yet

  129. 178 Bert
    October 23, 2009 at 23:11

    The rich do controbute more. Not just in taxes, but also in the fact that most of them in one way or other are the job creators.

    In this sort of debate, all the lefties assume that they are the “poor,” and that more is owed to them.

  130. 179 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 23:24

    Rich is a relative concept. The German guy on the programme would seem like a pauper to many of the bloggers in this forum. The person who claimed that the poor people in the US “live like kings” has obviously chosen to ignore that soup kitchen WHYS has visited on a couple of occasions. Surely a just society cannot live with the very idea of soup kitchens, the twentieth century version of the workhouse. I just can’t imagine being unable to go to my family doctor for basic medical care, but even if the latest hi-tech treatment is unavailable, or God forbid I may have to wait a bit for it, rather that than see people dying because they can’t afford such basics. Where is your conscience?

  131. 180 jing yan from singapore
    October 24, 2009 at 03:16

    hmm. why not allow the rich to pay more taxes if they are willing? One can look upon their willingness to pay more tax as an additional contributions back to society and even view it as a form of charitable movement. Having said that, I also feel that the poor who are benefitting from this redistribution of income should be willing to help themselves and not just rely on the tax revenue gained from rich people’s taxes. I myself am s tudent who come from a lower-income family and I have benefitted tremendoulsy from the Singapore’s system of income redistribution. Without the financial help made possible from tax revenues from rich people, I might not have been given the same amount of eye-opening opportunities such as overseas learning school trips.

  132. 181 ben aloy
    October 24, 2009 at 03:53

    What’s wrong is Angela Merkel spurning the offer of the rich guys.
    From a group of 21 rich men, it has grown to 34 or 44 and could generate 100 billion marks for govt.
    It’s common for people to make money and once they become filthily rich they give away some of the accumulated un-earned income to make peace with the maker.

  133. 182 Ronald Almeida
    October 24, 2009 at 10:11

    I don’t think the rich can be held morally responsible to pay more, since morality is an individual aspect. But they should be taxed more, since they have more of everything. Why not more taxes?

  134. 183 desertman
    October 24, 2009 at 14:03

    Taxation is legalized theft. That does not make it OK. Taxes should be used for roads, defense and national infrastructure. Income tax collection in the US was started to pay for world war one and was to be temporary. Apparently it was a very expensive war. Now we tax more and more to feed an inefficient bureaucracy that serves no purpose in many cases.

  135. 184 Sofia from Belgium
    October 24, 2009 at 16:59

    I would like to congratulate the “rich German” who are taking the initiative to become more socially responsible through suggesting and hopefully effectively paying more tax. They are absolutely right in saying that we ougth to invest much more on education, ecology, social protection programmes. I would suggest they add development aid. I am sure many more rich people have more money than they need. Even if they could do it on a voluntary basis with the proviso that they sign up for it for some 10 years (there must be some predictibility for governments), it could indeed make a huge difference. A big applause i would say.

  136. 185 desertman
    October 24, 2009 at 18:13

    > Don’t confuse social security with taxes. It’s a whole seperate thing.

    If I never receive any benefit or receive pennies on the dollar. I see it as a wasteful tax regardless of terminology.

  137. 186 desertman
    October 24, 2009 at 18:19

    Genuine question – in the US is anyone working class any longer? Or is that very expression too ideologically incorrect?
    Interesting for what is supposed to be a classless society.


    Anyone who punches a clock, that is pay by the hour, is working class (blue collar). I have never heard it is ideologically incorrect.

    I’vealso never heard the US is classless either. That is unless you mean lacking in in style at certain times hehe. No society is classless. That is naive. Humans are social creatures and class is in our nature.

  138. October 24, 2009 at 19:05

    Oh! Boy: If only some of the Bankers who receive millions in bonuses for doing little more than ruin economies, would ensure that their illgotten gains were sent to give a little more to the poor. Rather than a few more bottles on champaign to squander their money on. Life would be, and I’m sure they would be, happier living in a Community that cared about others. A more equal society, not necessarily Communistic, but fairer, and we’d all live more together and a lot less chaotically.

  139. 188 Tom D Ford
    October 24, 2009 at 21:17

    “Are the rich morally obliged to share their wealth?”

    The question is funny, really.

    The rich have always worked under the theory that the non-rich are morally obliged to share the wealth that they create by their work, with the rich, who don’t work but live off of interest and dividends, acting like parasites on the working classes.

  140. 189 Gerard Mclaughlin
    October 24, 2009 at 21:28

    I hope one day the poor will rise up and take the wealth that is theirs from those who think that it is ok to have so much while over 16,000 children (yes children) die each day from starvation. The problem I have with the wealthy is they are the ones who have access to goverment and therefore drive the agenda. This is the main reason we are told we live in an economy not a society. Recently in Australia a business man was found to be on an income of 400 times the average wage. Why? He was a banker. Yet a social worker is lucky to get the average wage. How do people get wealthy? Some here have said through hard work. Doing what I ask? Did it benefit society? People make money from shares from companies that they have no idea about what the legacy for humanity will be from their desire to amass wealth. For what? A bigger car, boat, house, maybe 2 houses or 3 and maybe 20 pairs of shoes or 30 etc etc. The rich always proclaim their charity. i do not believe it. Make wealth illegal

  141. 190 osadebe chifunanya
    October 24, 2009 at 21:39

    The rich who alot of wealth and wish to help other should share with the poor as God have provided for them in abundantly.

  142. 191 Ishwa Akaa
    October 24, 2009 at 21:51

    sharing of wealth is all about personality, and if these guys feel that they can do so, let them and God Almighty will surely bless them because they help in emeliorating the lives of the poor in the society.
    From: Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa state – Nigeria.

  143. 192 albert cote
    October 25, 2009 at 00:16

    I think the word obligated is too strong and also morally isn’t right either. If they made their money legally then it should be totally their decision to share it or not. I know many wealthy do share and do good things with the money. But yes it should be their decision Al Cote Milwaukee WI USA

  144. 193 DanR
    October 25, 2009 at 03:45

    By the rich, I guess the BBC means capitalists. Should they share “their” wealth? It’s not theirs to share. Should the working class take back their wealth? Absolutely. And, if necessary, by force.

  145. 194 Scott
    October 25, 2009 at 06:11

    Few analysts dispute the notion that the gap between rich and poor has widened to a troubling degree over the past three decades. But measures that use the tax code to fix this problem may carry their own risks. Republicans and other critics argue that Obama’s plan would punish success and stifle the very kind of spending that would foster investment and economic growth.
    Whatever the ultimate impact of Obama’s policies, his goals are clear. In his budget request, he writes that the average income of the nation’s top 400 taxpayers has nearly quadrupled since 1992 while middle-class incomes have stagnated.

    Being in that group whose income has stagnated, and that is the understatment of all time, I would have to say YES TAX THE RICH. But first prosecute the people responsible for the morgage fraud that has bankrupted us all. Just my opinion.

  146. 195 dr
    October 25, 2009 at 07:26

    Nothing matters if all of our money is funneled right out of the country into China. We first need to close down our trade borders and move more production inhouse. We’re giving all of our money away.

    Our standards prevent us from competing with nations lacking in standards. Nation’s systems do not function well if they interact so openly. Societies are very delicate things and allowing the rest of the world access to yours means you will eventually, to some extent, become dependent upon them. Confine our economy.

    I also believe that the government should not tax the wealthy any different total %rate, but consider setting limits on the top and bottom of the scale of wealth. The rich deserve what they earn, but they need to learn to tier their salary levels in a less differentiated manner, so as to have the scale semi balanced. If a company generates more profit than it can spend it can pour it into furthering its growth.

    Fact of the whole matter is there is a clearly emerging gap between the poor and the rich and if something is not done to reunite this society there will be extreme change.

    Monterey, Ca., USA

  147. 196 Ashraf from Kuwait
    October 25, 2009 at 08:40


    It is interesting to note the above discussion on the right of poor on the rich people. Coincidently I happened to listen to the BBC Forum where the speakers are trying to define the word Famine and came to the conclusion that around 1 billion human beings are suffering from Famine in different parts of the world. A famine is a widespread scarcity of food that may apply to any faunal species, which phenomenon is usually accompanied by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. In many regions of the world as of 2009, there is ongoing famine among a considerable fraction of the human population.

    What are the causes of Famine, Can we blame the nature for it…are we equally responsible for creating such a phenomenon…?? what are the solutions…

    I strongly believe that poor people has the right of getting the share of the richman’s wealth and the Governement should do it properly. The percentage of the right differ for different category of wealth and income.

  148. 197 John Nordyke
    October 25, 2009 at 08:49

    No the rich are not obligated to share their wealth. Personally my feelings are if you don’t work you don’t eat

  149. October 25, 2009 at 11:58

    No of coures but the rich people should not over used their power in order to make more profit in other words they should play it fair and not takeing advantage over the other .
    They keep watch and respect the ethich part of their bussiness practice

  150. 199 SIMONinRio
    October 25, 2009 at 12:05

    No. people should be allowed to keep everything which they have earned legitimately.if they have been stealing, then they should be punished. The rich are in no way responsible for the fact that their competitors are poor. The government has no right to steal from the rich to redistribute to the poor, the wealth is not theirs to give out. it doesn´t work either, helping the poor in por countries only leads to increased numbers of poor to deal with. Low taxes, every man for himself in life.

  151. 200 natchimuthu
    October 25, 2009 at 13:48

    well i would say people who are rich can pay more taxes. because it is the country and the people who made them wealthy. so it is absolutely fine to charge a higher rate of tax on wealthy people. it is their responsibility too to contribute more towards the country’s development and betterment of the society.

  152. 201 scmehta
    October 25, 2009 at 13:53

    Well, they may not be morally obliged, if they are paying taxes as p[er the laws of their lands; But are they doing that honestly? You bet!

  153. 202 Moeka From Freetown
    October 25, 2009 at 15:10

    One thing i like about Tom is his judgement is clear and very intellegent.. Africa will start seeing the same capital movement because companies in the west will run away from paying taxes.This is how africa too will join the rest of the world and share the same problems in all aspect.Trust me on this at least for once.

  154. 203 JanB
    October 25, 2009 at 19:14

    I’m all for letting rich people pay more taxes (though not necessarily a higher percentage of their income) and for having social security for those who can’t work because of a medical condition or their advanced age, as well as helping poor students to pay for college and poor people in general with paying medical insurance, but that’s where I draw the line.

    Being rich isn’t a sin and being poor isn’t a virtue: while all people have the right to education and healthcare, there’s no such thing as the right to own a plasma tv or a sports car.

    When you’re too lazy to get an education or to apply for a job, rich people shouldn’t be obliged to pay to give you a comfortable lifestyle.
    When you’re willing to get an education or apply for a job, but your parents are too poor to pay for your education or a medical condition prevents you from working, then richer people should help you secure your rights.

    It’s quite simple actually, isn’t it? Of course there will always be politicians trying to score a few extra votes by promising people a free lunch and then there’s no turning back, people will never want to give up that free lunch (then poor people become just as greedy as they make rich people out to be), even if it is later proven to have been unsustainable from the very beginning…

  155. October 25, 2009 at 21:04

    We must help the poor the whole world

  156. October 26, 2009 at 00:05

    Two reasons why the rich — especially the very rich — should pay lots:

    1) After a point — say, $100 million — more money does nothing to improve one’s own lifestyle; it serves only to give one vast power over the lives of other people. Great wealth is political power, and my own view is that such political power should not be handed to people because they (or their grandparents) were good at making money.

    2) Vast fortunes can never be earned by onesself; one is always benefitting greatly from others (public schools, roads, governmental infrastructure, legal systems, pensions, etc. etc. ). And money itself is by definition a communal project; one can’t “have” vast wealth without it’s being protected and accepted by others. Taxation is a way of replenishing the public store so that others can benefit as well.

  157. 206 scmehta
    October 26, 2009 at 08:18

    The people, who have become rich by using the right or conscientious means or wheeling-dealing, would automatically feel morally obliged to financially contribute for any good cause and national crises/need; they don’t need to be bound by any compulsions or call-for-duty.

  158. 207 Carl in Washington
    October 26, 2009 at 08:42

    Progressive taxes do more for off-shore tax havens, tax shelters and tax lawyers (read,”loopholes, exemptions,deductions,transfer payments etc.,etc.) …a higher NOMINAL rate for the wealthy will do little for ACTUAL rates …a REAL flat rate tax and a high inheritance tax would do much more for equality….(PSST! 8 of 10 new millionaires INHERIT their money…NOT the so called self-made men and innovators that is generally portrayed ).

  159. October 26, 2009 at 08:58

    The problem with the current system is that by allowing the richest people to earn so much more than the lowest earners in the first place, they feel like they’re entitled to the money that is taken off them through taxes. What we really need is a living wage law so that everybody collectively pays more tax, but they also earn more. That way the highest earners won’t be conditioned to think they are having their money taken away when the real injustice is that the system is set up to allow them to take in so much money in the first place while everybody elses’ wages have stayed low. The idea that the rich can get almost infinitely richer without the poor getting poorer looks like it’s not true – perhaps people haven’t woken up to it yet because borrowing is so commonplace, and the relative economic security the baby boomers received is softening the blow (many young people today are still living with or being supported by their parents into their twenties).

  160. October 26, 2009 at 10:34

    The only way to get rich is by accruing money and the only place money can come from is the economy at large. It follows, then, that the more you take out, the less there will be left in, so the rich should obviously put more back than the rest of us. Not only that, but what are those of us who are reasonably well-off supposed to do when confronted with someone who is unemployed and ill? Let them die?

    As a self-employed person, I could very easily declare below my real income, but I don’t, because I feel I should put my money where my mouth is (or where my computer keyboard is). Compared with most Europeans, I am by no means rich, but in a world context, I certainly am.

    One enigma about wealth: if a person owns more money than they can spend or otherwise put to use, would that money, if it re-entered the mainstream economy, cause inflation?

  161. 210 Dennis Junior
    October 26, 2009 at 12:16

    Yes, the rich should be morally encouraged to share with their wealth…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  162. 211 Derek Tollins
    October 26, 2009 at 14:37

    The principle of taxing people at higher rates because they have more than they need will eventually lead to everyone having nothing at all. I am not rich but if want to save up for something ridiculously stupidly expensive no one should be able to say that as i dont yet have enough for it that all my money should be taken from me because i dont need it. If these rich Germans think they have too much money then they should give it away themselves and not expect the state to do it for them as well as penalise everyone else that may have some imagination as to what they want to do with their own money

  163. 212 vijay k pillai
    October 26, 2009 at 14:51

    Rich get richer not by fairness but by manipulating and exploitng the people and law around them. Just look one richest man claimed for expenses .He was living in london but claim he lives in some whereelse on a small flat occupied by one of his employee.Where is the honesty and morality when was crafty enough to exloit the loophole that allow such loopehole? it is like saying 5 and 4 is 9 for poor but for the rich it can be 10 or 11 or anyting other than 9.Many rich are aware that the tax they pay is sustantial so they go about reducing that by having devious schemes like nor residnet status, paerty doantions,charities and so on and rub shoulders with party leaders and they know at the end of the day politicans in power in thei pockets.

    Rich Banker is laughing at rhe poor by givingthemselves hugh bunuses and giving media coverage of they are going to give billions of tax first and then bury the bad news that thenare going to give huge bonuses and the media eonomist congraualates and write articles why they deserve. In anway they all take the poor taxpayer for a ride.Now the richest man give the impresssion that he is a smat investerby supporitng a bank which annonced it is not the govt rescued the banks but he also made huge money by lending the bank as well. again it is an isult to the general public. whayt is his educaton? now adays bright mind dot want to become engineers or doctors but follow crafty finacers to become rich.

  164. 213 Farida kazmi
    October 26, 2009 at 15:57

    In my opinion poverty is the first step for committing crime .so why don,t we take bold step to improve the life of the people who can not afford a one time meal . so its better if we all cheap in and all rich and all those people who can afford and contribute for those peoples . so its never to let to decide . How to Improve quality of life of those needy person and to bring peace and harmony to you country.

  165. 214 Paul Gilles
    October 27, 2009 at 04:14

    Personally I think that it should be up to people on how they decide to use their wealth. If they decide to give their money away applaud them, but I don’t think the government should take a larger percent of a person’s income away just because they have more in the bank. I do believe however that charity work and donations are some of the most fulfilling and beneficial pastimes that anybody could think of, but I don’t think anybody should be forced to give away a larger portion of their money than another person.

    If a government needs to tier their tax system, maybe they should be looking more at the ways they are spending their money- waiting for our president to make up his mind about how many thousands of troops to put in or take out of Afghanistan is all fine and dandy, but he isn’t footing the bill for every second wasted while he decides what to do- we, the American people, are paying for this man to make up his mind.

    By the way, I do not support most of his campaign promises, but I have to notice that he has yet to fulfill a single one.


  166. 215 Paul Gilles
    October 27, 2009 at 04:18

    BTW, I refer to the “rich” of America, people who make more than $5,000 a year more than their living expenses (and luxuries) and taxes.

    January 11, 2010 at 07:42

    Here is an idea… Take ALL the money in the world, and divide it equally among everyone. That would level things out a bit. There are too many rich people in this world. The wealth needs to be re-distributed to the less fortunate. That is something I cannot stand is a greedy rich person who thinks they are better than anyone else in the world.

  168. January 12, 2010 at 19:58

    Maybe this would work in Germany, but in the UK any taxes would still only effect the every day working man, while the super rich still remain uneffected!

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