Following up on Wednesday's post, An Open Letter To The 2020 Presidential Candidates: It’s Time To Tax Us More: Wall Street Journal editorial, An Open Letter to Patriotic Billionaires:
Nineteen uberwealthy Americans posted an open letter Monday calling on “all candidates for President” to support a “moderate” wealth tax. Signatories include the investor George Soros, Berkshire Hathaway scion Molly Munger, Mickey Mouse heiress Abigail Disney, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and a couple of Hyatt Hotel progeny from the Pritzker family. ...
The letter brushes by the arguments against a wealth tax, calling them “mostly technical and often overstated.” Would courts find it unconstitutional? How would assets like Picassos be valued? Why has Europe largely abandoned this kind of taxation? Doesn’t it diminish the incentive to save and invest? What’s to keep a wealth tax from expanding, like the income tax did, to cover more and more Americans?
Instead of seriously grappling with these objections, the letter tries to sweep readers along in sheer patriotic fervor. The rich “should be proud to pay a bit more,” the authors say. “Taking on this tax is the least we can do to strengthen the country we love.”
Well, what’s stopping them? If billionaires see themselves as a threat to “the stability and integrity of our republic,” they could cease being billionaires any day. If retiring student debt is vital, they could put out a call to graduates and start paying off loans. If the climate is a priority, they could fund a green Manhattan Project. ...
If a wealth tax is patriotic, a self-imposed one would be doubly so. “It is not in our interest to advocate for this tax,” the letter says, “if our interests are quite narrowly understood. But the wealth tax is in our interest as Americans.” In that case, billionaire, tax thyself.