On August 2, 2010, Gary Popkin, the former Brooklyn Libertarian Party Chair and current State Representative for the Brooklyn LP, announced his support for regressive taxation. He also stated his belief that starving children provide "a great incentive" for the poor to "get rich"!
His full quotation on the matter is as follows:
I think regressive taxes are good. Taxing poor people at a higher rate than rich ones gives the poor an incentive to get rich and get out of that high tax bracket. I think children starving presents a great incentive, too.
There is no evidence this statement was made in jest or as a joke. It was made as part of a general discussion taking place on the issue of taxation and made as a counterpoint to an argument being put forth that gasoline taxes hit the poor most directly.
Dr. Tom Stevens, Political Director of the Libertarian Party of Queens County, responded as follows:
Although the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees, I believe that taxing citizens at a higher or lower rate depending on how much money they earn violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. If the Income Tax Rate is 10%, then a person making $10,000.00 should pay $1,000.00 and a person making $100,000.00 should pay $10,000.00. It is unconscionable to tax the higher income earning citizen at a rate of 30% and force him to pay $30,000.00. It would be even more unjust for the low-income earning person to be taxed at a higher rate than the higher-income earning person. In my opinion, that would not provide "the poor an incentive to get rich and get out of that high tax bracket" as Gary Popkin suggests. Breaking out of poverty is not a simple process. Often, poor people have attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that prevent them from breaking out of their circumstances. I also do not believe that allowing children to starve will provide the "great incentive" Gary Popkin believes it would to encourage poor people to "get rich". It is statements such as these by Libertarian Party leaders that illustrates why the party hasn't been able to obtain ballot access in New York State for almost four decades.
Dr. Tom Stevens is also the Founder of Empire State Libertarians and Libertarian Patriots of New York.