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other countries
April 18, 2011, 3:50 am
Filed under: betaCITY | Tags: , , ,

Here’s a description of the difference between American and Western European attitudes of what constitutes a good life.  The European is broader and human.

9. Other countries do it better. 

We measure our economic progress, and our elected leaders debate tax policy, in terms of a crude measure known as gross domestic product. The way the official statistics are put together, each dollar spent buying solar energy equipment counts the same as each dollar spent investigating murders.

We do not give any measure of value to time spent rearing children or growing our own vegetables or to time off for leisure and community service.

And we do not measure the economic damage done by shocks, such as losing a job, which means not only loss of income and depletion of savings, but loss of health insurance, which a Harvard Medical School study found results in 45,000 unnecessary deaths each year.

Compare this to Germany, one of many countries with a smarter tax system and smarter spending policies.

Germans work less, make more per hour and get much better parental leave than Americans, many of whom get no fringe benefits such as health care, pensions or even a retirement savings plan. By many measures the vast majority live better in Germany than in America.

To achieve this, unmarried Germans on average pay 52 percent of their income in taxes. Americans average 30 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

At first blush the German tax burden seems horrendous. But in Germany (as well as in Britain, France, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia and Japan), tax-supported institutions provide many of the things Americans pay for with after-tax dollars. Buying wholesale rather than retail saves money.

A proper comparison would take the 30 percent average tax on American workers and add their out-of-pocket spending on health care, college tuition and fees for services, and compare that with taxes that the average German pays. Add it all up and the combination of tax and personal spending is roughly equal in both countries, but with a large risk of catastrophic loss in America, and a tiny risk in Germany.

Americans take on $85 billion of debt each year for higher education, while college is financed by taxes in Germany and tuition is cheap to free in other modern countries. While soaring medical costs are a key reason that since 1980 bankruptcy in America has increased 15 times faster than population growth, no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness. And child poverty in America is the highest among modern countries—almost twice the rate in Germany, which is close to the average of modern countries.

On the corporate tax side, the Germans encourage reinvestment at home and the outsourcing of low-value work, like auto assembly, and German rules tightly control accounting so that profits earned at home cannot be made to appear as profits earned in tax havens.

9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes, April 13th, 2011 DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, Willamette Week

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