Brian Highsmith Promotes Progressive Tax Towards Inclusive Public Infrastructure

Brian Highsmith (’17), Senior Researcher at Yale Law School’s Center for Public Interest Law, contributed a guest essay to The New York Times discussing the dangers of flat-rate user fees and the privatization of public services (“Republicans Want You (Not the Rich) to Pay for Infrastructure,” June 23). “The endpoint of this shift can be observed in rural Tennessee, where several jurisdictions instructed firefighters not to respond to emergencies without first confirming that occupants have paid an annual service fee; if they have not, city responders stand aside and let the homes burn to the ground. The lesson is clear: Flat-rate user-funded structures privatize social risks while shielding wealth from productive public use. . . . A better alternative to funding mechanisms that burden consumers is to make public goods available to all who wish to use them, funded through progressive taxes and provided free at the point of consumption.”