Last week, in response to Jeb Bush’s intention to halve my Intangible Property Tax . . . again . . . I wrote that I might buy some renminbi with the extra cash he would raise for me by hiking tuition for community college students

Michael Fang: ‘I have an idea – why don’t you and your like-minded fellow Democrats create a charity fund financed by the tax savings that Jeb gave you folks (but you folks apparently don’t need) and use the fund the help out those poor community college students? Such an act of kindness I’m sure will be greatly appreciated by the poor community college students. Think of all the positive publicity you will get for the Democratic Party and the political points you will score. I eagerly await the creation of such a fund with bated breath.’

☞ It’s not cost-efficient to set up and market and administer a whole new charity for the proceeds of this tax cut, though I expect a lot of folks, Democrats and I’m sure some Republicans, will indeed give the money away.

I think it’s a mistake to be against all taxes and to favor all tax cuts . . . and I sense from your message that’s your position.

After all, Florida has NO income tax, so you’re already starting from a very millionaire-friendly premise down here.

Can’t you preserve your good free-market principles (which I share!) and still wonder whether Jeb Bush is right to want community college students to pay higher tuition so millionaires can pay less tax?

Remember, the tax was just two-tenths of one percent when Jeb took office (and exempted such things as all retirement funds, bank accounts, government bonds, and real estate). He halved it to one-tenth of one percent. Do you really feel that – at one-tenth of one percent – millionaires are overtaxed?

You almost – and I’m sure this is not the case – but you almost seem from your message to be selfish and insensitive to the needs of others.

Michael replies: ‘Of course, I am not really suggesting that you create a fund. My missive was only meant to be a sarcastic jab. It never occurred to me that the ‘needs of community college students’ should be my (or the state’s) responsibility. Do I feel the slightest trace of guilt for the poor community college students? No. A need does not automatically create an entitlement. There are different ways, public and private, of meeting that need, other than just taxing others. The government may extend student loans to them during their bootstrapping years, and when they get a job, they should pay the loans back.

‘In general I support the use of a tangible property tax to fund things that are related to the safeguard the citizens’ private property – such as fire department, police, road maintenance, etc. I don’t think it is appropriate to use property tax as a general revenue source or to fund entitlements. In general, I can live with a consumption tax, but I find the idea of a wealth tax such as Florida’s intangible personal property tax appalling. I hope it never gets widespread adoption across America. Jeb Bush should kill the whole thing instead of merely reducing it.’

☞ We may have to agree to disagree. I think as a nation we want to make education widely available and affordable. An educated nation is likely to be more prosperous and civilized. I guess it’s fine to cut off free education at the twelfth grade (Michael might cut it off earlier if he offered it at all). But I wonder whether we shouldn’t make it as easy as possible for those who want to go further. (This would include the student loans Michael talks about.)

In the current scheme of things, are Florida’s wealthy – faced with zero income tax and a one-tenth of a percent Intangible Property Tax – really getting the short end of life’s stick?

 

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