Taxes vs. Standard of Living

This is another “I read this and started thinking about it” post.  So some guy on the internet stated that Obama wanted to raise taxes to 100%.  Hmmm… first, that sounds more like what the Republicans want (are actively trying) to do to the middle class.  Second, would that be so bad?

Where I’m from (SE Texas), the government is 6 of the top ten employers.  We’re talking county, schools, universities, prisons, etc here.  So more taxes mean more government JOBS (not welfare) and more government SPENDING on things that generate jobs, like highway construction and research and the billions of things that the government buys and does.  Now, the government shouldn’t be a jobs program, but if there’s nothing else (like in SE Texas)…

Anyway, yes, I’m half joking, a 100% tax rate isn’t quite what I mean.  But here’s an interesting blog post about a 90% top tax rate (which, BTW, this country has done).

But what I was thinking about is really standard of living.  I know that some European countries have very high taxes and some of them have the highest standards of living in the world.  So I thought I would put together a little information about standard of living and tax rates.

First, a disclaimer.  Tax rates are not easy to even estimate.  Every country seems to have variable rates depending on variable factors and many (like the US) seem to have effective tax rates that are much lower than the actual tax rate.  I make no claims as to any meaning behind this… it’s just… interesting.  (And remember my correlation versus causation talk yesterday?)

So, the nation with the highest standard of living in the world is…

Norway!  Yes, Norway, where the sun doesn’t shine and the snow is there to stay.  It’s tax rate? Corporate is 28%, Individual ranges from 0-47.8%, Payroll tax ranges from 0-14% and there’s a 25% sales tax on everything except food (14%) and transportation (8%).  That’s a fair bit of taxes.  Let’s compare with the US.

The United States of America is 4th on the list of countries with the highest standard of living.  Corporate taxes range from 0-39%, Individual from 0-35%, Payroll from 2.9-17.3%, and sales taxes from 0-10.25%.

That’s not a terrible comparison.

Let’s look at number 10 on the list of highest standard of living (as I write this, I don’t know what #10 is.)  Interesting, it’s Sweden.  Sweden has a Corporate rate of 26.3%, individual rate of 0-57%, payroll of 31.42% (woah!), and sales taxes of either 25%, 12%, or 6%.

Hmmm… This is an interesting exercise, but I don’t think we can draw much from it.  Nevermind.  Sometimes researching things doesn’t help and sometimes experiments show your ideas are wrong.
Here’s the links:

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5 Responses to Taxes vs. Standard of Living

  1. Martin Wardener says:

    i was here for something else (your article about the GM/rat paper), but stumbled upon this and saw your comment about norway. not regarding the taxes, but regarding the sun and the snow. this is a picture [my dad took] from the NORTH of norway during summer (north of the polar circle, no less): norway is a country with seasons. relatively dark, cold winters usually, yes, but during summer the sun is up until late in the evening (weather permitting, of course). and in the parts of norway that are above the polar circle, the sun actually never sets during midsummer. midnight sun: during winter it correspondingly never rises, though. very depressing for the people living that far north, indeed, but norway is definitely not a country that one would/could/should generalize into “dark and cold”. googling oslo:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&biw=1280&bih=721&wrapid=tljp1348493895495017&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=TGJgUMnQMeim4gTRjYHgCQ#um=1&hl=en&safe=off&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=oslo&oq=oslo&gs_l=img.3..0l10.15749.17495.1.17692.…0.0…1c.1.kF9oxYAeezc&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=9901a2442e95fbbe&biw=1280&bih=721

  2. OgreMkV says:

    You’re absolutely correct. Generalizing like that is something I shouldn’t do.

    Still, it’s too cold for me. High temps in the summer range from 25C to 30C. Brrr… I’m used to Texas summers, 24C is downright chilly for me.

  3. Martin Wardener says:

    well, what can i say. i am norwegian, but i don’t live there – partly because of the weather. i live in malta, and summers here go up to 40C and above. we have around 30C these days, and i have a semi-daily swim in the sea. three years ago i went to norway for 2 weeks during july/august with my maltese girlfriend at the time, and we had 35C continously for that time (in oslo). the main problem for me is that the weather is so unstable – the barometric pressure fluctuations messes with my head.

    anyway – nice article on the flaws of the rat study. i posted it as a comment to a friend’s triumphant post about the study on facebook. he’s blindly “anti-anything-gm” and is only critical to results that conflicts with his own view, and it always provokes a knee-jerk reaction from me. personally, i am only “pro-scientific-integrity”, but some people cannot see the difference between that and being “anti-their-value-system”. this is a friend i have known for 6 years. now i just realized he blocked me! lol. some people..

  4. OgreMkV says:

    Yeah, my FB friend posted this article too. I would have gladly supported the article (she often just believes things without evidence), but when I looked at the graphs, I started having serious concerns.

    Part of the problem is that the people who want to believe that GM foods are horrible don’t realize that this article isn’t vindication for the pro-GM crowd. It’s 100% inconclusive.

    I still haven’t seen anyone post about the 3 papers that came out before this one showing that GM maize and soybeans are safe.

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