Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One Percenters

Does the top one percent make too much money in our society? The message of this video is that they certainly do. The video has for obvious reasons gone viral. It illustrates in a powerful, succinct, and understandable way the fundamental disproportion in wealth distribution in this country. The difficulty, unfortunately, is not in identifying the disproportion, it's in trying to find the best way to ameliorate it without destroying the economy altogether.

Here's the vid:
The left will say that we should raise taxes on the very wealthy, and few Americans would object to that if raising taxes would actually produce more revenue, or if the additional revenue would actually be used for something worthwhile instead of paying for boondoggles of one sort or another. Sadly, raising taxes will not produce significantly more revenue, nor would it help the poor whose problems transcend the lack of money, nor would the revenue be used efficiently or productively by government. In fact, the only thing raising taxes on the wealthy would accomplish, in my opinion, is that it would punish the rich simply for being rich, and that seems to me to be a morally insupportable reason for doing it.

If taxes on just the top 1% were raised again (they were already raised on January 1st)most of them would simply take their money and/or their business offshore or otherwise shelter their wealth so that the revenue gained from raising their taxes would be minimal.

Another problem with the video is that it makes it seem as though there's a fixed amount of wealth in the country and that when the rich monopolize it the poor have no chance to share in it. This just isn't so. Wealth can be created and grow. Wealth is not like a pie that gets cut into slices of different sizes. It's more like a balloon which can expand indefinitely.

Nor is the reason that average incomes are down among the the middle class that the wealthy are hogging all the money. It's because these people are suffering from the worst jobless rate in decades, and joblessness is up largely because businesses won't hire because they don't know what their costs are going to be when Obamacare kicks in. Nor do they know what additional regulations this administration is planning for them and what additional taxes they'll be paying if the Democrats win back the House of Representatives in 2014. In other words, one reason for the stark discrepancy between rich and poor is the economic policies and predilections of the Obama administration.

Here's an interesting fact to consider when thinking about taxing the rich. Most of the charitable foundations, endowments and trusts in this country are supported and financed largely by the rich. What will happen to charities, endowments, etc. if we we make it harder for the rich to stay rich? How many hospitals, schools, and benevolences of all kinds will simply have to cut back or close their doors? We may not like the wealthy and their opulent, ostentatious lifestyles, but they are the geese that are laying a lot of golden eggs. To turn the geese into chickens is the work of fools.

Here's another fact: According to CNBC the rich in this country are going to contribute more wealth to the treasury this year than any year in the history of the nation:
With Washington gridlocked again over whether to raise their taxes, it turns out wealthy families already are paying historically high federal tax bills even as the rest of the population continues to pay at historically low rates.

President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress say the wealthy must pay their fair share if the federal government is ever going to fix its finances and reduce the budget deficit to a manageable level. A new analysis, however, shows that average tax bills for high-income families rarely have been higher since the Congressional Budget Office began tracking the data in 1979. It's middle- and low-income families who aren't paying as much as they used to.
If this is so, our fiscal problem is not that the rich don't pay enough in taxes, they've never paid more. The problem is that we simply spend too much. The solution is not to raise taxes. It's to cut spending. The sequester is a small step in the right direction.