The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


At last night's Democrat Debate, the candidates spent an inordinate amount of time and energy on approximately 580 people out of a population of over 320,000,000 people. 'Billionaire bashing' was a meme that flowed through the debate. The Dems used it as a lever to advocate for more taxes and bigger and more intrusive government. After all, they argued, billionaires can afford it. A few suggested that no one has the "right" to be a billionaire, implying that there is something inherently immoral about the uber-wealthy, yet another way to leverage the Dems tumble toward socialist policy.

As if on cue before the debate (coordination, anyone?), 17 left-leaning billionaires published an open letter in favor of a "wealth tax." This is a perfect idea—if you're a Democrat with heavy socialist leanings. After all, the wealth tax can start with the 580, quickly spread to those who aren't billionaires, but have amassed 9 digit wealth, and then continue down through 8 to 7 to 6 digits. For those who know history, the original income tax was promised never to exceed a few percent. How did that work out?

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment on the billionaires open letter and their call for greater taxes on the very wealthy:
Well, what’s stopping them? If billionaires see themselves as a threat to “the stability and integrity of our republic,” they could cease being billionaires any day. If retiring student debt is vital, they could put out a call to graduates and start paying off loans. If the climate is a priority, they could fund a green Manhattan Project.

Maybe they’re intent on routing their largesse through the government, since it already does such a bang-up job of setting priorities and spending prudently. Again, though, why wait for legislation? They could start contributing more today. First, they could pledge to forgo all tax write-offs, including on charitable donations and foundations. As a side benefit, this would save them money on accountants.

Second, they could put their money where their convictions are by writing a big annual check—3% of assets each year, going by Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax—to local, state or federal government. The Treasury accepts “Gifts to the United States” at P.O. Box 1328, Parkersburg, W.Va. Donations usually go to the general budget, but state policies differ, and maybe an exception could be made to let benevolent billionaires specify an earmark in the “memo” line.
But why stop with billionaires? Both Liz Warren and Bernie Sanders are the leaders of the 'billionaire bashing' club. Both are wealthy in their own right—Sanders owns three homes and Warren lives in Beacon Hill in a house that some value at over $5 million. Why don't they both liquidate their properties and write checks to the U.S. Treasury as a symbolic statement of leadership on this issue. In fact, progressives in every zip code where high net worth individuals live could do the same.

The WSJ editors suggest that calls for legislation and more taxes simply aren't necessary:
... The billionaires could use their imaginations, or hire people to do that. The point is that if they think government will perform more good with more funds, they should put up the cash now, without waiting for Congress to make them.

If a wealth tax is patriotic, a self-imposed one would be doubly so. “It is not in our interest to advocate for this tax,” the letter says, “if our interests are quite narrowly understood. But the wealth tax is in our interest as Americans.” In that case, billionaire, tax thyself.