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Response to pogglethrope (Original post)

Wed Jun 24, 2015, 11:38 PM

56. No one seems to have picked up that the wealth tax I proposed


No one seems to have picked up that the wealth tax I proposed

was not on net wealth over $1 billion. My set-up was that each country would determine at which point the wealth tax kicked in, say $N[sub]USA[/sub] for the United States. Furthermore, it wouldn't have mattered that much in the long run whether the wealth tax rate was set at 90% or 95% or 100%. Since everyone in the country would share equally in the proceeds of the tax, everyone would be driven over time towards a net wealth of $N[sub]USA[/sub] -- with whoever was wealthiest at the end of a given tax year also remaining the wealthiest after taxes were collected and the proceeds distributed equally.

Everyone, in fact, would end up having the same rank wealthwise as she did to begin with. It's just that the wealthier would have ended up with less than they started with and the poorer more than they started with. All it is is a simple, straightforward wealth redistribution scheme.

And it's a boneheaded idea. I knew that when I dreamed it up, tweaking the notion as I went along. Itís a good enough outcome, but there have to be better ways of getting there. If ever there was anything that would disincentivize working to improve one's lot in life, this would do it. No matter how much ability one has or how creative, educated, smart, or talented one is and no matter how much effort one puts in, everyone ends up relatively close wealthwise.

Some here may think that's fine. I don't. I believe competition makes us both better and stronger -- and that most of us need incentives to do our very best. Growing up, I always tried to be the best at most things I did -- and I often was, in school and out. If I had always been an also-ran, I might not feel the way I do.

Not many of you posting at DU are going to remember the 1940s and 1950s. I do. When the highest marginal tax rate was 93%, I heard more than one local say something to this effect, "There's no point in me making any more money this year. If I did, Uncle Sam would just take it all." Of course, no one in the small town I grew up in came anywhere close to being in the highest tax bracket.

It was only in the last few years that one guy from my hometown became a multi-billionaire and several in his extended family became multi-multi-millionaires. The others bought stock in a company he started, a company that has >$10 billion in sales each year, even though its revenue has been down for the last several years.

Still, some people probably did tend to quit working when they reached a certain income level. The extra effort simply wasn't worth it for what might have effectively been half-pay. For someone who could draw unemployment benefits while she sat out, the inclination to do so was even stronger.

In fact, a plumber I knew in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s did just that. He didn't bother working between roughly the first of November and the first of April, even when he could could have. He preferred to be a couch potato and not go out in the cold winter weather in Minnesota. His wife, of course, worked year-round alongside my wife. He thought of himself as a "working man," but he worked nowhere near as hard or near as much as I did. Except for holidays, illnesses, and vacations, I averaged sixty hours a week or more all year long. The pay was good -- but, as I look back, I'm not sure it was worth the time it took me from my family. In particular I didnít spend enough time with my kids. They turned out fine, fortunately, but it was mostly due to their motherís influence. I provided some decent DNA, but thatís about all.

Foolishness or not, this discussion and another one I started have hopefully served my purpose: I wanted to get people to think about things in ways they might not have thought about them before. And, in the process, enlighten me and entertain themselves -- even if some folks got annoyed at my preposterous proposals. Perhaps only one person on the other thread figured out what I was doing was leg-pulling. I was -- with no intention of being an actual troll.

I signed up intending to post only enough to allow me to start a discussion. I thought the minimum number of posts for starting one was 30, but it turned out to be only 10. So I've made several times as many posts as I needed to. And I've started twice as many discussions as I had in mind starting out.

Regardless of what Janet Napolitano says, America remains The Land of Opportunity for many of us, if not for all of us. (It's OK to say that at Democratic Underground, isn't it?)

I think I hear a Rod McKuen song on my TV, so good night and good luck.


H.W, Beecher aka pogglethorpe
(Don't ask me where I came up with Pogglethorpe as a monicker. I don't even remember.)

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