A letter recently published in the Star Tribune claims that “wealthy” households “use government services the least, including education, fire and police.” This assertion is at best questionable.
Suppose that I own a successful widget company. I not only benefit from my own education, but from the education of my workers, which allows my company to be more productive and profitable. Insofar as these workers are educated in public schools, I am benefiting from public investment. I am also benefiting from public transportation infrastructure, which allows me to transport goods to and from my business.
The profitability of my business is also dependent upon a court system that enforces contracts and protects property rights. Furthermore, high income households benefit proportionally more from public safety functions geared to protecting property because they own more property. For example, Senator John McCain, who owned seven houses at the time of the presidential election, benefits more from police and fire protection than does the typical U.S. family who owns or rents only one.
Currently, high-income households pay less state and local taxes per dollar of income than do other Minnesota families. Tax dollars support a system of public services and infrastructure geared to protecting property rights, promoting commerce, and enhancing the social stability from which high-income households derive the most benefit. For this reason, it is only fair that these households pay for this system in proportion to their income. This is not “socialism” or “class warfare,” but simple tax fairness.