The New York Times asked some silly and some supposedly serious questions from 21 democrat presidential candidates. The question that got me worked up was the last one:
- Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars?
…and here is why:
Nobody has a billion dollars.
Maybe some drug dealers do, but they are difficult to audit. Still I would challenge anybody to name a single person who has a billion dollars in cash.
Only idiots and criminals would keep a billion dollars in cash. When you look at the list of American billionaires, what you see is a list of companies. It very well may be that Berkshire Hathaway has a few billions in cash reserves to make deals, but Warren Buffet does not own that cash. He owns the company that owns it. The Waltons don’t have billions, they have shares in the company their father built. Larry Ellison may have some rather expensive toys but I seriously doubt that he would have a billion dollars lying around. Oprah Winfrey may be worth billions but, again, I doubt that she would keep it as a stash of dollar bills, in whatever denomination.
What the rich have are businesses, investments, properties and maybe some stuff of luxury.
If they buy a Picasso painting, they will have a valuable painting, but no money. It may even be a great investment (artworks usually are) but not money. If they buy a yacht, they will have an expensive liability as those things cost quite a bit to maintain.
But just about all the money the rich have is tied up in businesses they still actively manage or in various other investments.
The point of all this is that ‘the rich’ does not have their money to give away without diminishing the total value of their properties or the businesses they run.
We could, of course, take the properties away from them to sell it, but to whom? Another rich man from whom we will have to take it away? ‘The rich’ would not be rich if they had their money just laying around. The true wealth of the rich is not in what they have, but in what they can do with it.
Anything we take away from the rich is a tax. All taxes are taxes on production because they increase the cost of production, therefore they increase the prices of the goods produced, therefore diminishing the demand for those goods. Ultimately, therefore, any tax is a tax on consumption, meaning us, not the rich.
What are the criteria of merit and fairness?
It would be difficult to decide which aspect of the question is worse: the moral or the practical one?
The meaning of ‘deserving’ or the policy establishing how it is interpreted in practice.
What does the damn question even mean? Do I deserve anything for writing this? Does J. K. Rolling deserve anything for her writing? She is a billionaire, I am most definitely not. If you are willing to give me a dollar to encourage me to write more, do I deserve it? If a million of you decide to support me, will that make me more or less deserving? I would guess more, but according to the New York Times and the interviewed candidates, beyond a certain point what I deserve should be neither your decision or mine, but some pinhead’s like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Does Tiger Woods deserve what he has? How about the Waltons? Their father must have thought so otherwise he would have willed his fortune to the above-mentioned economic geniuses.
How about Elon Musk who is constantly on the brink of bankruptcy as he is trying to create a better world for all of us? Is he driven by greed or idealism? Who is to decide? How about Bill Gates? For more then a decade now, his focus is his humanitarian foundation and support for research into vanguard technologies. Which one of these activities should be curtailed? The humanitarian efforts or the search for technologies to make our lives better?
The question is both stupid and preposterous. Can the policies that they will give birth to be any better?
Let’s look at Elizabeth Warren’s big idea.
It is “……to cancel about 95 percent of student loan debt and to make college, technical school, two-year, four-year, all fee-free and tuition-free.”
That is about 1.5 trillion dollars to start with; then about half a trillion every year.
It should be payed for by a new 2% tax on the rich, a wealth tax on people with a net worth over 50 million dollars..
Both Bernie and Elizabeth are big on fairness, but only Sanders have a modicum of honesty about it:
“….. we need a tax system which demands that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of the taxes. My guess is when you have that, then you’re not going to have too many billionaires left”
…nor any businesses that can generate the income for the next socialist “big idea.”
The top 1% of income earners already pay 40% of all income taxes, meaning 40 times their fair share. How much more would be fair for a democrat or other social justice warriors? Bernie’s answer is clear: the ‘fair amount’ is what needed to make all of us equally poor.
The unintended consequences
According to a good friend of mine, there are no such things as accidents. I could add that there are no such things as unintended consequences either. If you tell someone that doing X will result in undesirable outcome Y n times and proven right every single time, how long can those you warned claim with honesty that the consequences you warned them about were unintended?
Let’s suppose that Elizabeth Warren will get her wish and start slowly chewing away the wealth of the rich. Does she really think that they will not do anything?
- That they will keep sending fat cheques to their fully government supported alma mater?
- That their will not alter their business practices?
- Move some of their wealth off-shore?
- Their factories to China?
- Or just go bankrupt due to the increased financial burden?
How does she (Elizabeth Warren) know that the flood of free money will not increase the cost of tuition? Or the level of enrollment? Government guaranteed student loans have already been identified as one of the major drivers of tuition increases.
The only thing that is more revolting than the stupidity of the question is the overall tone of the NYT. How the questions and the way they are presented are suggesting the expected answers. How the NYT is setting the agenda for the candidates starting them off on a race to see which one can champion their shared goals the best. The New York Times does not act as a news organization any more. It is just the propaganda arm of the left.
But I may be wrong. What do you think:
- Is it possible that the people of the New York Times do not understand that nobody has a billion lying around?
- What is more likely, that they are stupid, or that they are dishonest and manipulative?
Let me know in the comment section.
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How many bloodsuckers does it take to kill a moose?