Saturday, April 26, 2014

Punish the Rich

The new tome by Thomas Picketty, a French economist, has created a flurry of excitement on the Left because, inter alia, Picketty endorses a confiscatory tax on wealth in order to meliorate the huge disparity in income between the rich and everyone else.

I haven't read Picketty's book - it's 600 pages long - but apparently the 80% tax rate he endorses is not designed to bring in new revenue to the treasury since he acknowledges that it won't. Its intent, he admits, is to insure that there aren't any rich people.

Daniel Shuchman reviews Piketty's book at The Wall Street Journal. He writes:
So what is to be done? Mr. Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at "$500,000 or $1 million." This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply "to put an end to such incomes." It will also be necessary to impose a 50%-60% tax rate on incomes as low as $200,000 to develop "the meager US social state." There must be an annual wealth tax as high as 10% on the largest fortunes and a one-time assessment as high as 20% on much lower levels of existing wealth.
I'm no economist but you don't have to be one to predict what such thievery by the government would do. Every one of those wealthy targets would take their money offshore. There would be an enormous flight of capital which would mean less money for capital improvements and paying employees. Unemployment would rise and the nation's economic infrastructure would deteriorate. All this not to help anyone, but just to punish people. Seizing the wealth of the rich has been the Left's dream ever since Marx, and they'll keep bringing it up, just like they have done with socialized medicine, until they someday achieve the political power to implement it. Achieving what's best for the country is not their goal. Their goal is to destroy the rich for no reason other than they're rich.

Picketty's candid admission quoted above is shared almost universally among leftists. For them it's a moral crusade although why people who are mostly secularists think there's anything "wrong" with being rich is an interesting question in itself.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman, a southpaw economist who writes for the New York Times, who decries income disparity, who praises Picketty's book, and who himself dreams of "redistributing the wealth," has taken a sinecure at CUNY for a hefty $225,000 a year.

These folks on the Left must be tone deaf to both hypocrisy and irony. The role for which Krugman will be paid such a princely sum, a stipend the average New Yorker would have to work years to accumulate, is ostensibly to study, of all things, income inequality.

He'll certainly be well-situated to research it, and he can be depended upon to declare what a terrible thing it is while happily perpetuating it.