On the 53k issue, I still need to reference the CBO, so understand this information is still based on the assumption that the calculations are the same as last time I researched. The problem is that supplying tools, an environment, advertising, and everything else drastically reduces that 53k. The way they make money is by having many people produce the 97k and even if it costs them 96k in supplies, tools, man hours, etc they still make 1k for that worker and have 200 workers. This is an extreme example, but it doesn't mean they have 53k going in their pockets instead of to the employees. The 200k they keep is the advantage of being the owner.
Bill Gates is only one person. He is in the .001% of the country. Using him as an example is flawed. But if we are going to talk about the class of people in the top 1%, there is still a guy named Musa Ahmed Sheikh in that country who made over 12 billion with petroleum engineering. There will always be a top 1% of earners and they will do it by getting the right commodity at the right time. Though, I don't like Bill Gates' tactics, just for a note. I like that a free market gives me the choice to use Android or Linux as an acceptable substitute.
Even if there was no Mitt Romney, there would be someone else in the same tax bracket. The 1% is not the same group of people at all times. Someone has a great idea and moves ahead of someone who was in the 1% all the time. That person would still hold a bunch of wealth and pay the same rates.
As for the 15% vs 30% and such, the dollar amounts really do matter. It's progressive in that when they make more, they pay more. They pay VASTLY more every year. They aren't getting off free. I still have trouble with the very idea that 1% of the people pay 38% percent of the total federal income tax revenue and people are saying it isn't progressive enough. This may have to be an agree to disagree situation.
Personal income tax does not equal corporate income tax for many reasons. Any point I make based on that comparison would become a huge debate. The Amazon point is much more in-depth than a footnote. I would like to see corporate taxes moved largely to income tax since it's currently passed on to the consumer and ends up being a sales tax, which you call regressive.
The reroll hypothetical is too much of an imagination game for a proper debate imo, so I won't get into it except to say your point has some merit, but I don't accept it absolutely.
I wouldn't argue getting rid of sales tax, actually. In fact, I think you and I would probably agree on my basic approach to tax reform, but we'd get caught up in a few details on lines. Let me summarize it and see if you agree. I think all current taxes should be stopped. One single income tax should be implemented for federal and each state can have one. Eliminate all tax breaks. Capital gains is income, too. Income taxes come out of pay for work done or gains on investments. Here's the fun part: progressive is required for this to work. Make it progressive %-wise in brackets. Make a thousand brackets if you want, but the percent calculation is very simple.
I think we would fall out over where the brackets should lie in the details, but we both think it should be progressive and that the current breaks system is ridiculous. Am I correct in this? I hate how much politics and shady numbers come into all these debates when it could be as simple as Buffet pays 17% but his secretary pays 11%. It's clear who contributes what.