Boo this dude. You know, at first I thought he was an American trying to do a British accent. I guess he's just Australian? Regardless, dude is has no idea what it is he's talking about.
First of all, when you're making an argument, you need to present counterarguments that people actually make, rather than summarizing positions with loaded and misleading terms like "master plan" and "desired outcome."
I mean on taxes, dude talks about the fact that Western countries have different rates of taxation for different income groups as if its sole purpose were to soak the rich. But a progressive income tax scheme is not necessarily about producing some kind of "desirable outcome" or any kind of sinister "master plan." The fact is that if you were to speak with an economist about the reasoning behind it, they'd probably tell you that a flat income tax rate, one where all people of all incomes are taxed at an equal rate, would have an unequal effect across income groups. This is because poor and middle income people save and invest a smaller portion of their income than do wealthier folks. That's also why consumption taxes like the sales tax are considered regressive. And really, that's why serious people who support flat or fair tax schemes also tend to include exemptions and rebates for poor people.
In any case, it's kind of a stupid point if you know how taxes actually work. I mean, let's take a simple example and look at Obama's proposed tax increase. If he wants to raise the tax rate from 36 to 39 percent for those making over 250k, it doesn't mean that someone making 260k would be paying 3 percent more for every dollar of income. The tax increase would only affect the 10k that's above the 250k mark. Or if you make 50k a year, the first 20k of your income is taxed at the same rate as my 20k.
So yeah, I think you can argue the merits of the progressive income tax. You can say that maybe it discourages wealth. (You'd be full of shit.) But to argue that it's wrong because it treats people differently under the law is just weak. Furthermore, it's just not accurate.
With respect to capital gains and corporate taxes and what not, it's a lot trickier. I'd say there's a lot of bullshit in there--one of the things I really don't like about my party, the Democratic Party, for example, is the fact that most of our representatives are really capitulating to the corn lobby. That said, I don't disagree with the basic notion that the government should, on occasion, distort the market by using the tax code. Because, as good as you might think the market is, there are certain things that are in our collective interest that are not in the interest of individual actors. I mean, I'd just love to hear how you "individualists" would plan on reducing CO2 emissions. Just love it!
As far as redistribution of wealth. Here's a little nugget of wisdom they didn't teach him in school: all government functions redistribute wealth. All functions, even in a state that only offers the most basic of services (roads, police, courts and military) you're taking money from one group of people (the tax payers) and paying it to another (civil servants and folks with government contracts). And when you take into account the fact that some areas and regions have a bigger tax-base than others, you'll find that (gasp) wealthier regions subsidize poorer ones.
And that bit about affirmative action was pathetic. First off, he really shows why people should avoid argument by analogy. Right out the gate, he establishes a false equivalence. Affirmative action, even when it was to the point of imposing quotas, is just not comparable to the fact that women and minorities were held back as a matter of legally accepted custom and government policy for hundreds of years. And then he talks about the turnover of players, as if past discrimination has no effect on the present. It's not only ignorant, but breathtakingly disrespectful. And I suppose that you could argue that the principle is the same--they both discriminate--but you'd be wrong.
I mean, think about how affirmative action came about in this country. During the New Deal and especially during the War, minority groups unionized and worked against our country's policy of giving out contracts to companies that openly discriminated against non-whites. Public money, money collected from everyone's taxes, was being used to fund companies that formally discriminated against non-whites. And some of that public money was also used to try to crush the activities of those unions. Affirmative action was the result of that struggle. And it was put in place because, left to its own devices, the market (and the state) would irrationally favor one group of people over another.
To be sure, affirmative action has some really stupid applications--especially if you want to get into rules promoting minority owned business. And right now, I think that the case for race and especially gender based affirmative action is a lot weaker. The courts recognize this and currently will only find it legal when there's no hard quota and when the aim of the program is for something like "promoting diversity" or whatever. I personally, don't like it. I think it demeans minority achievement, especially black achievement. (Clarence Thomas has wrote about this.) And more to the point, if your goal is promoting real diversity and opportunity, then affirmative action programs should be class-based.
Anyway, what were we talking about?
Ya tu sabes.