I hear a lot people say nowadays that it's time for the rich to "pay their fair share," or some variation on that statement. I find that statement extremely ironic since rich people pay not only a higher dollar amount in taxes on earned income, but also a higher percentage. Many people say that because rich people have more, they should have to pay more, and they demand this in the name of "fairness."
Since we all have equal claim on government services, it seems to me that the absolute fairest system would be one where everyone contributes the same dollar amount. Or alternately, one where we are taxed proportional to how much we use in government services. Although either of these models is undoubtedly the fairest tax system, neither are practical since the poor would be unable to pair their fair share in either scenario.
So, the next fairest system is one where people are linearly taxed according to their income instead of consumption level of government services. Instead of paying an absolute dollar amount (which again, would be the most fair), everyone pays the same percentage of their income. That way, those who have more pay more. This is called a flat tax. Even a flat tax is a compromise on fairness since those who consume the most in government services are likely those who are contributing the least, but it's a practical compromise on fairness.
I am amazed that despite the fact that the rich pay a vastly disproportionately higher amount in taxes than everyone else (talking earned income here, not capital gains), many of those who benefit from this vilify the rich for not paying even more. Much more needs to be done to help the poor in this country, but our country has a severe problem of ingratitude. How about we pause for a moment to thank the rich for shouldering much of the tax burden that we all benefit from.
Taxing the rich at a higher rate has nothing to do with making the system more fair. Yes, such a tax structure benefits those at lower income levels, and there is certainly some merit to that. But call it for what it is: compassion, charity, or even welfare. Don't distort the issue by calling it a matter of "fairness."