Are Taxes Now More Certain Than Death? Welcome to The Future of Taxes Week on Big Think

Big Think debates the future of tax policy.

Along with electing political leaders and sitting on a jury, paying taxes is one of the citizen's annual obligations to the republic. Big Think will be covering tax issues this week in all its mind-boggling genius and complexity.

Delivering a share of our yearly income to national coffers has raised the ire of Americans since the early days of the country. One of the primary motivations to buck British colonial control was taxation without representation after all, and in this period of contemporary tea parties and 90 percent tax rates on undeserved corporate bonuses taxation is raising out collective blood pressure just as it was 250 years ago.

Among the questions we will consider in this week's blog are:

Why we pay comparable tax rates with other developed world democracies and get so much less in return?

How much of our 2009 taxes will go toward paying off the bailout?

What will happen to the rich when the Bush tax laws expire in 2011?

Should there be a tax on consumption?

Who are the biggest tax evaders?

What is the future for tax havens like Switzerland and Andorra?

Where should our tax dollars go in the new economy?

April 15 is a mere 48 hours away, so finish up your e-filing or just fill out an automatic extension and wait until October like 10 million other Americans. And when you are finished let me know what other questions you would like to see broached when it comes to ponying up for Uncle Sam. I can always be reached at

Tax-minded viewing on Big Think:

Center for American Progress fellow Matt Miller on the future of American taxation

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist on paying it forward

Professor Clifford Schorer on tax incentives

Uber-Libertarian Peter Theil on marginal tax rates in the U.S.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.