Ben Shapiro’s Sept. 24 column bemoans that it is unfair to increase taxation on the uber-rich because while the top 1% gets only 21% of all U.S. income, they “pay 40% of all income tax revenue.”

Of course, Shapiro deceptively omits Social Security tax and sales tax that fall most heavily on the less-than-rich. But let’s put aside Shapiro’s sleight of hand on that point.

Taxes are the price we pay for a civil society. Taxes pay for our national defense, our roads, bridges, levees, hospitals, schools, national and local parks, museums, courts, laws and regulations that protect against contaminated food, water, dangerous drugs and pollution. Taxes fight fires and pandemics and help us recover from hurricanes.

In short, taxes provide the physical and social infrastructure that facilitates American life and the opportunity to prosper and accumulate wealth.

So what is fair distribution of taxation in our society? It seems to me that “fair taxation” can be gauged by the net advantages that our society, supported by taxation, affords the individuals within that society.

The “fairness” of the taxes should not be gauged by the percentage tax that each person pays but rather by the level of comfort, support and reward that living in the society affords to the persons who pay the taxes.

Through that lens would you rather be the American who makes $50,000 per year and pays only $1,000 (2%) in tax or would you rather be the American who makes $1 million per year and pays $400,000 (40%) in tax or the guy who makes $100 million and pays tax of $50 million (50%)? What is fair taxation to support a society that provides those economic opportunities to its citizens?

JACK M. ALLTMONT

lawyer

New Orleans