Paul L. Caron
Dean


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Abolish Billionaires: 'Kneecapping The Wealthiest Among Us'

New York Times op-ed:  Abolish Billionaires, by Farhad Manjoo:

Last fall, Tom Scocca, editor of the essential blog Hmm Daily, wrote a tiny, searing post that has been rattling around my head ever since.

“Some ideas about how to make the world better require careful, nuanced thinking about how best to balance competing interests,” he began. “Others don’t: Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires. All of them.”

Mr. Scocca — a longtime writer at Gawker until that site was muffled by a billionaire — offered a straightforward argument for kneecapping the wealthiest among us. A billion dollars is wildly more than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes. It’s far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however much he believes he has contributed to society.

“Some ideas about how to make the world better require careful, nuanced thinking about how best to balance competing interests,” he began. “Others don’t: Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires. All of them.”

Mr. Scocca — a longtime writer at Gawker until that site was muffled by a billionaire — offered a straightforward argument for kneecapping the wealthiest among us. A billion dollars is wildly more than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes. It’s far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however much he believes he has contributed to society.

At some level of extreme wealth, money inevitably corrupts. On the left and the right, it buys political power, it silences dissent, it serves primarily to perpetuate ever-greater wealth, often unrelated to any reciprocal social good. For Mr. Scocca, that level is self-evidently somewhere around one billion dollars; beyond that, you’re irredeemable. ...

[I]t is an illustration of the political precariousness of billionaires that the idea has since become something like mainline thought on the progressive left. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are floating new taxes aimed at the superrich, including special rates for billionaires. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also favors higher taxes on the wealthy, has been making a moral case against the existence of billionaires. Dan Riffle, her policy adviser, recently changed his Twitter name to “Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure.” Last week, HuffPost asked, “Should Billionaires Even Exist?

I suspect the question is getting so much attention because the answer is obvious: Nope. Billionaires should not exist — at least not in their present numbers, with their current globe-swallowing power, garnering this level of adulation, while the rest of the economy scrapes by. ...

As Ms. Ocasio-Cortez put it in a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates: “I’m not saying that Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are immoral, but a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong.” (She meant hookworm, she later corrected.)

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/02/abolish-billionaires-kneecapping-the-wealthiest-among-us.html

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Comments

Sorry but their claims are ignorant and immoral - they'd do well to learn the 10th Commandment and the Bill of Rights

Posted by: Bandit | Feb 10, 2019 10:25:20 AM

So let's take their money and BURN it; not redistribute it or such, burn it. Or are your motives less lofty then you put on and more about simple envy?

Posted by: Harvardr | Feb 10, 2019 10:36:11 AM

OK...I'm beginning to understand all this better.

Billionaires spending their own money are a problem because "...money inevitably corrupts. On the left and the right, it buys political power, it silences dissent, it serves primarily to perpetuate ever-greater wealth, often unrelated to any reciprocal social good."

Government employees spending money that's not even theirs to spend--money extorted from taxpayers at the barrel of a gun--are evidently not such a problem because presumably such money does not "...buy political power, silence dissent, [or] serve primarily to perpetuate ever-greater government [power], often unrelated to any reciprocal social good."

Uh huh.

Posted by: David | Feb 10, 2019 11:27:53 AM

Let's see - government atrocities: the French revolutionary terror, the Ukrainian famine and Soviet show trials of the '30's, the Armenian massacre at the end of World War I, the Holocaust. How many atrocities can be laid at the feet of billionaires? I'll take my chances with a billionaire, thank-you.

Posted by: William Erdmann | Feb 10, 2019 1:06:12 PM

Just food for thought, but... how many billionaires are there in America? There can't be that many. And let's assume the government could and would seize all of their assets, after which nobody would ever try to become a billionaire or face the same punitivie policies.

What would that net the government, ballpark, in terms of net worth?

Would it make much of a difference? Would it even make a dent in the national debt?

Anybody have a idea on that one?

Posted by: MM | Feb 12, 2019 7:06:58 PM

I'd rather society determine how much money someone deserves by how much the market rewards them for selling something the marketplace wants, than rely on some self-appointed tyrants deciding whether their contributions to society are sufficiently earned.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Feb 14, 2019 4:43:33 AM