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For an alternative point of view, check out Equal is Unfair by Yaron Brook.


Edit: several commentors have asked why I posted this link. The entire framing of the article and source paper is based on the idea that tax evasion is bad because of its relation to inequality. This book shows that the concept of inequality is misguided and shows a better framework for human flourishing.

How is an argument against wealth distribution an alternative view point to rich people cheating on their taxes? They're somehow only cheating to the extent they're correcting for taxes being progressive?

Isn’t the underlying assumption when talking about (air quotes) “cheating” taxes is that taxes are supposed to be redistributive?

If someone is following the letter of the law, how can they be cheating?

Well, they can be cheating if they are violating the ‘spirit’ of the law or some unwritten but generally accepted notion about the law. In this case, that assumption is that taxes should always always be progressive and redistributive, right?

That’s how it’s an alternate view point.

(Personally, I’m in favor of negative income tax, but I think Yaron Brook is a talented thinker and speaker. I did not know this book of his existed, and am glad it was brought up.)

Hiding money offshore is against the letter of the law.

I am more familiar with American tax law than Norwegian but I have huge doubts it’s illegal to have money offshore. Having money in more than one country is a pretty good hedge. When the Greek banks shut down and imposed atm restrictions, only Greeks with foreign bank accounts were able to access their money for example.

I’m searching but if you find anything on what constitutes ‘hiding’ in Norwegian tax law as it relates to offshore accounts it would be much appreciated.

I have a feeling ‘hiding’ is another one of those spirit of the law / unwritten societal rules sort of thing in this context.

Having money offshore is ok. Hiding money offshore is not. I'm not a tax accountant, but my lay understanding is that's the letter of US tax law

Yes, I think you have it correct for the US.

The US is also very unique in which it’s the only country that expects you to pay taxes on money earned overseas as well.

None of these people are earning money in Panama. They're moving their money there and not declaring it. There's nothing US specific about that being illegal.

I don't think this qualifies as "an alternative point of view" to being a tax evader. The alternative to the super-rich not paying their fair share of taxes is to have them pay their fair share of taxes.

The book addresses the concept of “fair share”. You might find it an interesting read.

"Yaron Brook is an Israeli-born American entrepreneur, author, and former academic, who currently serves as executive chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute..."

That's as far as I got.

What happened?

Many people consider the philosophy of Ayn Rand simplistic and incorrect both in its precepts as well as supposed outcomes.

Could you explain what you mean by that? Could you state the case made by Rand in such a way that her proponents would agree with you, and then show the errors that make it incorrect?

Textbook ad hominem.

First we need a fair definition of "fair".

How about at least as much, percentage-wise, as what a person with less money than you is paying?

What is the standard you applied that helped you come to that conclusion?

common decency

I've been recommended "Equality and Efficiency, the Big Tradeoff" as well.


Which ideas in the book do you think are toxic?

And how can an idea be toxic?

If you consider an idea, evaluate it in its full context, and conclude that it is true, then you can accept it and live a better life. If you reject the idea, you don't have to think about it anymore.

There is no way for an idea, by itself, to harm you.

> There is no way for an idea, by itself, to harm you.

Totally false. Ask an ex catholic.

> If you consider an idea, evaluate it in its full context,

That's the problem - you can't honestly evaluate an idea in its full context. Ever. You have a limited ability, and there is limited information, and you have biases built in. In my mind, toxic ideas are ones that prey on our frailties - fear, anger, pride, etc. - and cause us to believe socially or personally harmful things. Fascism is a toxic idea. National socialism is a toxic idea. Puritanism is a toxic idea. Etc.

If you can't honestly evaluate ideas, how do you know that you are right about any of your views? How do you know that pride is a frailty? What kind of standard could you even apply to decide "harm" or "benefit" of an idea?

Indeed, you can't know anything for sure. That's logically true, but a totally pointless dead end. Backing away from that so we can have a useful conversation - I guess when I talk about toxic ideas I'm thinking something like Trump's "fake news" declarations.

We can study it and... within' reasonable bounds, know that it's a distortion of reality. Of course not all news is 100% accurate, and all news comes with politics attached - why was this reported not that, etc. but calling the new york times "fake news" is just wrong. If we analyze things in a deep and unbiased way we can be fairly sure they are mostly acting in good faith with the goal of telling the truth.

But it's a toxic idea - if we don't have the time, inclination or critical skills to break it down, it can prey on people's mistrust of intellectualism and stereotypes about the media. If you believe it even a little bit it undermines any and all criticism of Trump no matter how valid. Which allows him to dance around the normal check on democracy that the media is supposed to be.

To conclude: I don't know that pride is a frailty that can be exploited by a toxic idea to cause harm, but that's the way the world looks from here so that's how I conduct myself.

Since you seem to be interested in ideas, in how we know things, and how ideas can impact the degree to which we flourish in life, I will suggest two books to you that made a lot of sense to me.




Is your position that “the industrious risk takers who drive our world forward” would do so even if taxes were 100%?

What an absurd straw man position. I open my statement with "those who should get rich". What do you think?

You stated: “That type of person is not deterred by tax rates.” If they are not deterred by tax rates, why would they be deterred by 100% taxes? I was simply restating your position in explicit language.

As you say, these creators are taking risks. What is their motivation for doing so?

There are two possibilities:

They are motivated by payment in material - money. Taxes take away the earned money, so this becomes less of a motivation.

They are motivated by payment in spirit - thanking them and appreciating their creation. Taxes preclude this type of payment for two reasons. They are taken by force, so it would be like a thug thanking you after taking your wallet. They are morally justified on the basis of altruism, in which case they are merely a corrective action for how the person should have behaved in the first place - we don’t say thank you to the thug who returns your wallet after being caught by the police.

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