One of the primary arguments against higher income people paying higher taxes than lower income people is that it penalizes the successful. But this argument supposes that the successful became successful in a vacuum – that they did it without receiving the benefits of other peoples’ taxes, which is clearly not the case. Elizabeth Warren put this very well last year:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you!
But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.