Tax You. Tax Me. Tax That Fellow Behind The Tree.

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 28, 2009

One of the salient characteristics of our good friends on the port side of politics is their massive class envy and their belief that there is something inherently evil about making lots of money. What most people consider the American way–profiting as a consequence of working hard and doing something that the buying public wants (in a legal and ethical manner, of course)–they view as a sin if the profits that result are eye-popping. In their view, getting rich is A Bad Thing.

Comes now Matthew Yglesias to give voice to this general sentiment with the suggestion that tax rates of up to 95% ought to apply to people making over $10 million. Evidently, the only concern we will face is that lots of baseball players will go to Japan, but that is supposedly balanced out by the fact that “most of the super-rich would ultimately find it a relief to get off the treadmill of status-competition and the not-quite-so-rich would be thrilled to see their betters cut down to size.”

Five questions:

1. How did Yglesias pick the 95% figure? I am guessing it was out of the air.

2. How did Yglesias pick the $10 million figure? Repeat suspicion in Question 1 above.

3. Why does Yglesias think that the only people who will be affected by this kind of sentiment will be baseball players?

4. Why does Yglesias think that somehow, the “super-rich” will find it a relief to have 95% of their income confiscated from them?

5. Why on Earth would any rational person construct tax policy based on the belief that “the not-quite-so-rich would be thrilled to see their betters cut down to size,” seeing as how (a) we can’t speak for the not-quite-so-rich and (b) there is no reason why we should give credence to pathological class envy?

I don’t suspect that Matthew Yglesias will answer this, of course. He is probably busy constructing a way to take toys away from super-toy-endowed infants and redistribute them to the not-quite-so-toy-possessing. In the meantime, per the link above, enjoy Michael Moynihan’s skewering of Yglesias, complete with excellent reader comments like this one, which constitutes yet another question Yglesias will not answer.

  • kcom

    Question 6: Has Yglesias never, ever read “Atlas Shrugged”?

    This line from Yglesias sounds like it’s straight out of that book: “the not-quite-so-rich would be thrilled to see their betters cut down to size.” It’s hard to believe he typed that with a straight face as it’s so patently ridiculous.

  • NYCcon

    I think he got the 95% from George Harrison – There’s one for you, nineteen for me.


    Let me tell you how it will be,
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me,
    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    Should five per cent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    (If you drive a car car), I’ll tax the street,
    (If you try to sit sit), I’ll tax your seat,
    (If you get too cold cold), I’ll tax the heat,
    (If you take a walk walk), I’ll tax your feet.

    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    Don’t ask me what I want it for
    (Ah Ah! Mister Wilson!)
    If you don’t want to pay some more
    (Ah Ah! Mister Heath!),
    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
    Yeeeah, I’m the Taxman.

    Now my advice for those who die, (Taxman!)
    Declare the pennies on your eyes, (Taxman!)
    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    And you’re working for no-one but me,

  • Conservadick

    When I was a kid, a friend of the family who was a Jersey City fire fighter had almost exactly the same idea. It would make things “fair”, he said. The fire fighter had the excuse of not having finished high school.

    The world isn’t fair. The world isn’t ever going to be fair. Trying to make the world fair won’t work, but will destroy all the reasonably equitable social mechanisms we have in place now, e.g. public education and universal suffrage.

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

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