created Saturday, 2012-02-25 T 08:55:00Z
updated Saturday, 2012-02-25 T 08:55:00Z
What's nowadays called a progressive income tax is a tax schedule in which taxpayers at higher income levels pay higher rates. For example, people earning 10,000 bucks to 15,000 bucks might pay a 10 percent tax rate, while people earning 15,000 to 20,000 might pay an 11 percent tax rate.
I've often heard Conservative, Right Wing, & Libertarian friends claim that a progressive income tax schedule would damage the economy. I've even heard that such a tax would be immoral.
But wait! A famous poster boy of the economic free market, Adam Smith, approved of what we now call a progressive income tax when he said "It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion".
No, he didn't write that in his later years when he was losing his mind. (I'm not saying that he lost his mind in his later years, or even that he had later years in which he could have lost his mind.) He said that in his famous(ly misrepresented) work of free markets, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. You could buy it here, or, if you can allow yourself to make use of the commons, you could obtain for free from Project Gutenberg or from the Seattle Public Library