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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Work and taxes

To The Editor:


Several pieces in The Valley Reporter over the past couple of weeks have misinformed readers about taxes and labor. Dick Kingsbury and Win Smith both bemoaned high taxes with Mr. Smith connecting high taxes to his ability to pay more decent wages at Sugarbush.


Before I go on I’ll tell you that this is not a personal attack. I don’t know these men personally nor do I care about them on a personal level. I’m only saying they’re deeply misinformed about the facts and history of taxes and labor.


1. Our income taxes are the 18th lowest of the 20 OECD countries, being only higher than Mexico and Chile (which not coincidentally have high rates of wealth disparity just like we do). So those who complain about high income tax might want to think of relocating to one of those two countries.


2. History shows that our highest productivity and lowest inflation was during the high wage, high income tax era after WWII. Marginal income tax rates topped out at over 90 percent. Inflation was level at about 3 percent as was unemployment. So, taxes have nothing to do with hiring help. (Remember, if minimum wage had gone up the same as productivity, minimum wage would be $22 per hour, not $8.50.)


3. Employers and employees are in a symbiotic relationship. They need each other. Mr. Smith knows he needs human beings to run the ski area. He could not make money without them. He needs those workers whatever the income tax rate. Also wages come directly off of the top line of corporate income so labor is not an income tax issue.


4. Logically, if wages go up when income tax goes down, why have wages stagnated in the last four decades while income taxes on the rich have plummeted? Income taxes are grossly too low. Hence the deteriorating infrastructure Mr. Smith admits needing.


5. Just in terms of human decency, you’re making enough to pay what you feel are high taxes while your fellow citizens are working 40 to 80 hours a week to barely scrape by. Doesn’t that move you at all?


Robin Lehman






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