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1952 recalled some more

She (my friend) then added her own comment:

There were a lot of things wrong with the 50's, but one parent working with another one staying home (which they owned) was doable when the onus of taxes wasn't on citizens.

The onus of taxes wasn't on the citizens because it was on the "corporations" you see. She seemed to be agreeing with the Sanders quote she attached that we ought to get back to that.

But what does it mean to tax corporations exactly? Is it a free lunch for the "citizens"?

Of course not. Depending on a variety of circumstances, a corporate tax gets money into the Treasury from one of three sources: the shareholders of the corporation in question; the consumers of the products and services it creates; the employees.

If the labor market for the sort of labor a particular corporation needs will allow, the corporation (a legal form for the interactions of natural people) will pass the cost of the tax that way. If the labor market doesn't allow this -- perhaps there aren't enough people with the right skills to go around -- the tax may well be passed to the consumers in higher prices. If the competitive situation doesn't allow this either, the tax presumably bites the holders of equity. I think it is a reasonable guess that third possibility is the desired one.

Yet it isn't clear to me why we should treat shareholders as illegal aliens, contrasting them with "citizens" in the way described above. The shareholders include pension funds, certainly, and those funds are supposed to protect the interests of large swatches of working people, those no longer actively in the work force as well as those who will remain there for years yet. The shareholders also include other institutions with broad demographic bases.

I'm not sure my friend thought any of this through.

Also, there is the matter of the breadth of home ownership. The comment, with its parenthesis, suggests that a couple raising children, and owning their own home, is an ideal thing, especially if the income of only one of them is sufficient to run the household and pay the mortgage. I had thought more recent events, events in this millennium, might have cured us of the romanticization of home ownership but, hey, some ideas die hard.

Allow me simply to set out the hypothesis that the way in which the U.S. government intervened in the economy to promote the housing industry in the 'Levittown' era, the intervention that created the housing glut to which my friend looks with such fondness, was rare and unsustainable. It was possible because the U.S. stood alone in the world. The U.S. was virtually the only developed capitalist economy in the world by 1945 that had been neither a battlefield nor (excepting of course Pearl Harbor) the target of ruinous bombardment.

That situation was bound not to last as the rest of the world, the bombarded and fought-upon parts, got back on their feet.


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