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Short people should pay less income tax

May 29, 2009

Rocky just realized that Randy Newman’s 1977 hit “Short People…got no reason to live” is actually a politically-charged parable about income tax policy.

Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw’s paper “The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution” [click here] argues that tall people earn more money, and so fairness dictates that they should pay more in taxes than short people. He uses a Utilitarian analysis of the sort favored by 19th century philosophers Jeremy Bentham and Francis Edgeworth. (Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon declined Rocky’s repeated requests for comment.)

Given President Obama’s zeal to “spread the wealth around,” Rocky (whose height is below average) is looking for a new box to check on his 2010 Form 1040.

The Form 1040 has a box to check for the blind person credit. It has a box to check for the qualifying child credit. But it has no box to check for the short person credit.

Rocky plans to discuss this issue with Rep. Charlie Rangel (Chair of The House Ways & Means Committee and a representative from NY’s Washington Heights neighborhood.)

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