You have some time series above various nodes on a graph (each node is an account), and you cannot observe the time series directly, only some functions of the total state space, such as yearly income statements, ( i.e. some information is hidden or obfuscated). The question is how much of the underlying graph and time series you can reconstruct from your observations. I know some people have methods for reconstructing time dependent dynamical systems from observations using E.g. manifold learning, but I'm not sure if this problem exactly fits the bill.
Really this title should read "Guy estimates wealth of super rich based on their income tax return" but that is not as sexy...
Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of the journalists involved in exposing the Panama Papers was recently murdered by a car bomb in Europe. 
Meanwhile, how many of the crooks she exposed went to jail? Not a one.
Zucman and Saez’s latest estimates show that the top 0.1% of taxpayers—about 170,000 families in a country of 330 million people—control 20% of American wealth, the highest share since 1929. The top 1% control 39% of U.S. wealth, and the bottom 90% have only 26%. The bottom half of Americans combined have a negative net worth.
May I inquire, are you starting from this position as well?
If wealth taxes are beneficial and a good goal to work towards for a society, then it might be worth it to try for a 16th or even a 17th time until someone figures it out. Human flight took plenty of tries too, but it was something we deemed beneficial, so we figured it out.. eventually.
Anyway, Property taxes are a kind of wealth tax, as are capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes. All three of those are wide spread and well established.
You do before experimenting with the lives, livelihoods and quality of life of 350 million people.
Or, if not prove, at least provide some really compelling reasons why this time it's different.
FWIW, I think that a Georgist land value tax would be better than a straight wealth tax.
What qualifies as "really compelling" is subjective, but sure, I didn't mean to suggest that you should just try the same thing again and again.
> You do before experimenting with the lives, livelihoods and quality of life of 350 million people.
The way I see it, if an experiment fails, it does limited damage which you can recover from. Of course, the greater the possible damage the more careful you have to be and the higher the threshold to start the experiment should be. But if it succeeds, you permanently improve your society and learn what works.
When the possible loss is limited and temporary while the possible gain may last until the end of civilization, I don't think you should be too conservative. Though running experiments on 350 million is kind of overkill when there are smaller countries. Maybe it's a better policy for large countries to ask smaller ones to experiment, promising to help them recover if they fail.
> FWIW, I think that a Georgist land value tax would be better than a straight wealth tax.
Sure, but what non-pigovian tax isn't worse than an LVT?
I think the article actually mentioned that when it wrote of 'soaking the rich.' That's the real point I think: envy.
I'm very open to the idea of some form of asset tax; I think that they can make a lot of sense. But the reason shouldn't be to drag a few lucky folks down: it should be to try to make a better economy and world for everyone.
This is just the same as many countries. All income earned is subject to tax in the country you live in, regardless of where in the world it was earned. However, this only applies when you are tax resident. So I can't see any reason why a wealth tax in other countries couldn't also apply to global wealth. There's a precedent set by their income tax already applying to global income.
The almost-unique difference in the case of the US is that it taxes its citizens even when resident outside the US (I realise there's a deduction for taxes you've paid overseas).
Sort of. It depends on which country you live in and if that country has a tax treaty, which applies to 68  of the world's 195 countries. If you're living in a tax treaty country then you pay the greater of the US tax or the local tax. If you're living in a non-treaty country you pay taxes to both countries on all your income. The US excludes the first ~100K of foreign income.
Complications arise when you start a business abroad as a US citizen because then you're the proud owner of a controlled foreign corporation and that's its own special brand of disappointment.
*There may be tax treaties that may reduce total tax liability.
Did Jeff Bezos put in a million times as much effort as a typical minimum wage worker?
The reason why it's fair to make Jeff pay way more taxes than the average person is because he benefits way more from public services than the average person. Where would Amazon be without public roads, electricity, or water services?
You can perform this exercise with any big company. The idea that an entrepreneur builds a billion dollar business entirely on their own and so they deserve all of the wealth produced is the most pernicious idea in our societies today. Unfortunately, as the Monopoly study showed , this idea may be universal to humans who obtain an advantage.
No, but he did make a million times more risky bet than the typical minimum wage worker. He quit a lucrative job at a financial company to start a company where he owned 100% of nothing and he has held onto that stock for 23 years. Common financial wisdom is to diversify your investments but instead, he took a massive pay decrease to start a company in the hopes that the stock would one day pay off, then held onto the stock of his company and led it to the massive valuation it currently has. He could have cashed out at any time but he didn't because our system rewards those who take risks/keep investing.
If you massively taxed outsized earnings and/or capped it, he probably would have never even started the company because why would you take the extreme risk of doing a startup when most of them fail? He probably would have just stayed at the financial company and if he did do the startup, then he probably would have cashed out when the taxes/cap got too large and retired instead of working to continuously increase the company's value which increases everyone's standard of living.
Compare this to someone who has a background in retail or a warehouse worker, the personal and financial risk of starting a business is arguably higher. In order to accrue the savings to start their business they would have to work far more hours, and if it doesn't work out they may never have the opportunity to try again. They have less job security if the business fails. They have less savings, and may completely deplete their savings and incur a large debt if it doesn't work out.
I'm not saying that Jeff Bezos didn't earn some of his keep, or that Amazon doesn't provide a lot of service, but I would say the risk vs reward of his business is atronomical compared to the average business startup. The entire idea that he took a risker bet starting a business than a minimum wage worker is, I think, totally wrong, it's utterly ridiculous, and lacks any perspective on what minimum wage workers have to stress about.
What is the marginal utility of another billion dollars to someone who is already a billionaire? What motivates Jeff to get out of bed in the morning?
The answer: winning.
Guys like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are the business equivalent of professional athletes. The money they continue to make is only a trophy at this point. To them, the real prize is to enter new markets and succeed, challenging and disrupting the status quo.
He took a risk in absolute monetary terms perhaps, but not risk in terms of consequence. Having spent a few years being relatively high up in DE Shaw, the worst that might have happened to him if his business failed is that he'd move to a smaller house.
Contrast that situation with someone who might struggle to make rent if their business failed, and tell me who's really taking the bigger risk.
Even ignoring the signaling value of D.E. Shaw and Princeton, are you arguing that the wealth he'd accumulated in his career up till that point is comparable to that of the "typical minimum wage worker"?
Then are you arguing that a hedge fund manager and a "typical minimum wage worker" face the same relative risk when they invest the same amount of money? In other words, are you saying that someone who has 110,000 dollars in savings and someone who has 11,000 dollars in savings face the same risk if they both invest 10,000 dollars?
No, definitely not.
The rhetoric here is missing the nature of power: power gives leverage and enables entities to extract money and surpluses. Knowledge and talent is just one means to power. A more common means is patronage. The highest earning individuals are generally more talented and intelligent, but not that much more so.
Major corps have access to information, systems, lobbying that individuals do not have, any 'salary negotiation' is like playing poker against the house: the tables are tilted.
I think European taxation is excessive after income, payroll and VAT it's well beyond 50% for many income earners (though they get healthcare from that), there's no reason that those earning $1M a year can't pay the tax rates on the books, and opt to hide their money offshore.
Especially in US/Canada where taxes aren't crazy, there's really no excuse for these folks. It's just criminal.
What a ridiculous statement! A bet one million times riskier than the average person makes would be one where there's a 1% chance of achieving great wealth and a 99% chance of everybody you love dying immediately.
An already affluent person starting a business is not that risky.
“To change the world”
I find it hard to believe there was any sort of real “risk” to Bezos future ability to earn a more than average wage.
It’s an information and networking game. You can say there’s some sort of numerical or quantifiable risk. But I suspect Bezos status pre-Amazon, in an early 90’s economy, with a very different wealth equality and cost of living scenario for the masses, he was well buffered from any long term ruin.
Just consider how much it’s changed: 22 people invested $50k according to Google. What’s that get you in 1994? My after tax take home is $110ish/year depending on bonus. My purchase power is a fraction of what it was a generation ago. I should be taking home $500k/yr to enjoy the same purchase power as someone making $110k in the 80s. And this is “normal”, we’re told.
Most people don’t even get anywhere near the network access and education he had.
The notion that we exist in a meritocracy is mind bogglingly engrained in the masses. Bezos earned every cent, it seems. They pay economists a lot to measure very carefully and confirm as much.
Bezos is not that good and that special, and took very little real risk. Society is rewarding him so much because that’s what society is told is correct.
You are ignoring opportunity costs . He quit a highly lucrative job in finance to attempt a startup where he probably payed himself like 1/10th the wages of his old job during the initial years while he established his business.
With like 90% of startups failing , that is a massive risk in the hope of future stock worth for decreased current wages.
If it failed, he would have had plenty of options relative to the average worker.
A single person could discover the cure to cancer tomorrow, and he would save billions of lives, even though he has the human labor of one.
Good luck getting the word out if one person solved it rather than a member of a team in a large lab and yadda. More likely outcome: The "one guy" who cures cancer will be written off as a member of the lunatic fringe and have endless doors slammed shut in his face.
And if your argument is that the government should fund all drug research, realize that they are fully capable of doing so and then patenting the drug and giving it out for free in our current system. Thus, both funding models can work in cohesion.
I agree, that is done by the state. They put the rules.
There was a time when it was considered none of the government's business to know how much people earned, hence taxes on fireplaces and windows. If you had a fireplace then you were probably a family unit and needed to pay up, if you had two fireplaces then you were a bit rich and could pay up double.
We take for granted so much of the tax system that we do not question it, there are also entrenched left wing and right wing viewpoints.
When it comes to value added tax, a.k.a. sales tax, we let businesses off but make sure individuals pay. It is all skewed in favour of capitalism rather than the individual.
Clearly a company can move to wherever it wants to avoid taxes. Individuals don't have quite the same freedom unless they are of the capitalist company owning class.
So we need to stop confusing individuals - businessmen - with businesses. Bezos and Amazon are not one and the same. If Amazon paid all its taxes then Bezos the individual as well as all Amazon employees should be afforded zero income tax and have zero motivation to squirrel gains away in some tax haven.
We also have a slight problem of rents and property being too expensive with property being insufficiently taxed. The whole system is designed to screw the little guy over with the corporations getting a free ride.
I like paying taxes. I have absolutely no problem with the idea that if I (and others) contribute from what we earn, that we get collective benefits, such as education, infrastructure, and healthcare, which in turn improve our society.
I also have no problem with tax increases, as I am well aware that the overall benefit I receive from increased contribution greatly outweighs having that money in my bank account.
The money I pay in taxes contributes to a better educated society, who are more aware of the challenges we face together, and more capable of solving them.
The money I pay in taxes builds public transport, helping people move around, and removing the burden on our roads. It repairs those roads, so they are safer.
Where I live, the money I pay in taxes provides healthcare, so people who are ill or injured can be treated without going into life-ruining debt.
I am happy to pay taxes, because I believe a country where the population on the whole are smarter, safer, and healthier, and infrastructure is modern and maintained, is better than one in which I'd have a bit more money, but be surrounded by people who are less educated, sick, and in crippling debt, with crumbling infrastructure.
Why don’t you just write a bigger cheque to your tax collector, then?
You can do a whole hell of a lot more with 100 people working together than with 100 individuals acting of their own isolated accords.
Did their children also? Then why do they inherit it? I'm all for a 100% estate tax. You shouldn't be able to take it with you. Society doesn't need dynasties. Their children were raised with the benefit of extreme wealth with all of the advantages it brings. They shouldn't also get to keep it.
The reality is that a 100% estate tax mostly will hurt the middle and lower classes. The ultra rich will get with their lawyers, set up trust funds while they yet draw breath and find other loopholes.
Same as it ever was.
And while wealth inequality is a genuine issue, there's much worse things that grow out of trying to prevent people from being wealthy at all. It's absolutely the wrong goal. The goal should be to not exclude people from the benefits of living in a wealthy, developed nation. It shouldn't be trying to arbitrarily and spitefully rob the rich.
It depends on what you mean by “power”. If by “power” you mean money then the answer is yes, if it’s their money. The same applies for the not-so-“powerful”.
But we have also proven that men have a great interest in exaggerating the relative value of the services they render one another. I cannot indeed, see any other limit to these claims than the free acceptance or free refusal of those to whom these services are offered.
They can, by voting.
Then later. ..
"When Reagan cut the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% across eight years, and later, when Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush slashed tax rates for investors, they were doing so on the advice of economists. The prevailing belief, backed by theoretical models, was that lower taxes on the wealthy would stimulate more investment and thus more economic growth. The real world hasn’t been kind to those theories."
Economists need to stop optimizing for growth and start optimizing for fixed size. Once we run out of third-world countries to pump investments into and get cheap gadgets, there will be no more economic frontiers (or they would have been found already). Not to mention, our obsession with growth is destroying the planet we depend on.
I heard an interesting idea the other day: give all males a vasectomy (or some form of long-term birth control) at the age of 14. The purpose is to make having children a conscious decision instead of a "whoops!" and put downward pressure on the overall population.
Remember, rising empires build roads, and declining empires build walls. The way out of the current climate crisis is not to wall off what we have and die in stasis; I'm afraid the only way out is through, and we're not going to get there by dwindling our own population.
The first half is true, because roads are a key instrument of military invasions, and that's how empires rise.
The second half is true in that all empires of any scale build walls regardless of whether they're rising or declining. An empire with no walls is an empire that belongs to someone else.
But neither of those seems like an especially deep or compelling point.
> "Good fences make good neighbors" experienced early retirement. In its place came the untested phrase, "Build bridges, not walls." If nothing else, the new slogan seemed designed to give military historians fits. Throughout history, bridge building had been recognized as an act of aggression.
( https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501172700/ )
Uh, where else on the globe do we have to spread? What new resources are there for us to discover?
The time period where a growing human population could grow their standard of living by moving into pristine lands and exploiting their natural resources is basically over. Lands are either already being exploited, or are intentionally protected. And the side effects of exploitation are starting to balance against the benefits.
We can't think about burning the next 1,000 tons of coal, the same way we thought about the first 1,000 tons of coal humanity burned.
I think you've got the idea that a growing human population was a major factor in building wealth and prosperity, which is not really true. Our ability to adapt to and exploit new areas of the Earth allowed us to grow wealth and prosperity despite steep population growth.
I'm not advocating for forced sterilization. But it is absolutely true that humanity cannot continue to grow its standard of living by just keeping on with what worked 100 years ago.
That’s a fine statement but the wall building is a symptom of decline, not a cause of it. I don’t think the Roman Empire would have reversed it’s decline by building more roads to Scotland and Germany.
Wtf did I just read?
Historically, we have generally tried to hold both parties responsible. Women were expected to refuse to put out until marriage. If you got a girl "in trouble," shot gun weddings were a thing.
But men were generally expect to earn the primary income and women were expected to primarily care for the family and maybe supplement the income. With people generally having fewer kids on average and women more often expecting real careers with status, income and job satisfaction, things have gotten vastly more complicated and "you two need to just get hitched" is not sitting well with most folks.
(There's a lot I'm leaving out. This isn't intended to be comprehensive, just a thumbnail sketch.)
Plenty of women use sperm banks...
This is very much the exception and yes, a man is involved, but the transaction is 100% voluntary on the part of the woman without any specific intent towards that specific woman on the part of the man.
Given finite resources, you cannot have infinite population. So you can either restrict population growth or let it balloon out of control and deal with much worse consequences. It's not a matter of personal liberties, it's a matter of resource management. And without effective resource management, there is no personal liberty.
Not to mention the idea of vasectomies for every teen is unfeasible and dumb.
Most of the developed world already has below replacement-rate fertility (in some cases significantly below).
this is too abstract, general, and more importantly, unsupported. we have no idea what the future holds, especially about what markets will open up and where capital (which is a proxy for human focus and effort) will flow. we don’t know how many people the world can hold, especially as we solve the problems we create while growing (a principle challenge of civilizations), and whether we will eventually colonize other worlds. humans are ingenious and continually defy such simple characterizations.
in any case, i do agree we citizens should constantly monitor and assess the effects of monetary policy on the wider world. the govt’s interest in inflation is principally for growth (money devalues unless you keep making more) and our central control of interest rates is in service of making sure we grow faster than our neighbor to preserve our economic lead and the global political power that confers. it’s ok to sometimes slow down and enjoy the fruits of our collective labor.
We DO know that at our current population and current level of technology and/or level of comfort, the world CANNOT hold the number of people that are currently occupying it. That's why we're facing climate disaster and unprecedented levels of pollution. There's just too many of us.
So, the answer is to, if not shrink the population, at least not keep growing it incessantly. People are acting like population controls are some huge affront to them. In a place with limited resources, you need to limit the number of mouths to feed, or resource shortages (or evironmental catastrophe) will do it for you, and much more violently.
Do we? I'm pretty sure that the simple fact these people ARE currently occupying the globe proves this false.
Now, if you mean cannot forever hold this many people, well, perhaps - but assuming all technological advancement and rollout will cease seem to fly in the face of history.
Right, and the earth is being destroyed rapidly because of it. And "technology will save us" may be true, but why not also try to fix the real problem?
Do you really believe this?
People seem to be really offended by the idea of not having a growth economy. As if it's some horrible thing that at some point our population will remain constant and we can find an economic model that doesn't rely on consuming an ever-growing amount of resources (blasphemy).
There's a person that has a Huntington Beach address that's owed over one million by California. There's hundreds of thousands of dollars waiting for Google and its subsidies to claim. This is the same for all major corporations... In Los Angeles County, a certain Agency has overcharged nearly all of their commercial customers hundreds of millions (possibly billion(s)) of dollars over the last few decade.
Wealth Detective has a nice ring to it.
Isn't he smart enough to know that such a tax would only serve to permanently entrench the super wealthy?
That's why I think Warren's wealth tax is much smarter and would effective.
Even a single example would be helpful
I don't think a statement has ever made me more furious than this.
About the only pop star that has ever made sense to me for was Michael Jackson, and that's pushing it.
There comes a point at which marginal wealth stops having much utility, other than as a metric to compare yourself to others.
Steve Jobs's behavior provides a decent demonstration of this. He was okay taking a $1 salary because it cast him as the great CEO taking a hit for his company. But when the board insisted on paying him, he told them their offer was too low. He wanted to be _either_ the great sacrificing CEO or the great CEO who is equally well-compensated, because he didn't actually need the money, but he wanted the reputation from it.
If it's just being used as a yardstick anyway, we might as well tax most of it.
No there doesn't. Whatever you can't spend goes towards making sure your descendants are taken care of. Or you can donate it to the various charitable organizations of your choosing.
If we make it as easy as we do to become incredibly wealthy, we should make it just as hard to stay wealthy.
That doesn't logically follow. I think that a great portion of what makes wealthy people wealthy is blind luck. That's not to say that Jeff Bazos isn't a great businessman or a hard worker, but I'm not convinced he's the greatest businessman there is.
What possible reason could one have for making it “hard” to stay wealthy, other than pure spite and jealousy? How does it benefit society in any way?
There is simply no use for one individual to have that much wealth. Tax it, and individuals will find creative ways to put it to use instead of hoarding it.
You seem to think the ultra rich have Scrooge McDuck style swimming pools of cash or stacks of gold bars in a cave somewhere doing nothing but somehow "storing" accumulated wealth.
This is generally not true. Most billionaires appear to have most of their wealth in the form of stocks in a company they run. (AKA investment in the economy)
There's lots of valid criticisms to be made of extreme wealth inequality. The rich supposedly "doing nothing" with their money doesn't seem to be one of them.
That's a lot worse. Owning stocks means having control over a company and thus power. One unelected person having so much more power than others is incompatible with democracy.
A Scrooge McDuck style gold pile, in contrast, would make gold slightly more expensive but wouldn't influence the economy otherwise.
Wealthy musicians are still capitalists, and getting rich running a business that employs thousands should be as respectable as singing, if not more so.
I think the view that Schulz shouldn't have more than 500 million isn't unreasonable, but it seems very clear to me that he should have more than Beyonce.
That Beyonce is the most talented and hardworking person? That no one should have a higher net worth than her? You have some very strange views.
Imagine a world where every human being on the planet had another $100 a month in wealth but Beyonce happened to double her wealth as a result. This seems like a good thing to me but others may disagree.
Why not just get rid of the entire Constitution then? The idea of changing our constitution from that of a liberal republic to that of an authoritarian state should be universally met with disdain.
This is not a matter of liking the rich. I disagree wholeheartedly with the politics and spirituality of Gates, Zuckerberg, and Bezos. However, the idea that the government has any right to tax private property at whatever valuation they see fit is a quick step towards a totalitarian nightmare.
Not really? Only in the case where the government is no longer beholden to the people (or the rich). Right now, the federal government in general is more or less a captured agency of Wall St and the tax policy follows as such. Either way, no matter who controls the government, there's a vested interest in setting tax policy that above all else, optimizes for stability. I mean, you're a voluntary exchange type, right? Is it in the government's rational self interest to set a tax policy that causes revolt?
Also, who protects that private property you love so much? There's a cost associated with that. This whole "taxes are theft!" nonsense is becoming tiresome. You're part of a society. Pay your membership fees and stop whining.
No. The exact opposite. Only in the case when the government is beholden to the people can it be expected to protect the rights of those people. Otherwise, it is rule by those in power, which is just as bad (if not worse than) as rule by the rich. Power does not always come in the form of money.
> taxes are theft!
Stop with the strawmen. I didn't say taxes were theft, I just said this wanton approach to the legal system, especially at the highest levels of law, without any forethought for what kind of thing this opens up, should be met with universal criticism. Taxing property of the rich sounds like a great idea, but the truth of the matter is that giving government this broad power allows it to also do things like take poor people's personal possessions whenever they see fit.
Already, even with our rather strong legislation in place, some government agencies have found it okay to use search warrants to seize private property (thankfully the SC reversed that idiocy), but the fact of the matter is that government is one of the few agencies well known to overstep any and all power given to it.
> You're part of a society. Pay your membership fees and stop whining.
I'm quite happy to support a liberal government. I would not be happy to support authoritarianism, and I think you wouldn't be too.
Back in the real world, the federal government has always used its constitutional entitlement to tax people, and despite your clearly bad faith insinuations, the Sixteenth had absolutely no impact on its [in]ability to take the possessions of the poor whenever it saw fit or implications for search warrant seizures. What the amendment actually did after nearly two decades of careful consideration and public debate was remove an odd quirk in the constitution whereby in the eyes of the Supreme Court the federal government could directly tax individuals and companies as much as it liked, but only if the total amount contributed from a state was proportional to its population (which made assessing direct taxes based on variables like incomes and corporate profits rather than fixed things like the right to vote difficult).
If your definition of the difference between a "liberal republic" and an "authoritarian state" is based on whether the constitution mandates that the quantity of direct tax collected in each region is proportional to its census counts, you really, really don't understand the concept of liberty.
It seems that pretty much all agencies (and most individuals) overstep any and all power granted.
The top 1 percent of taxpayers pay roughly 37 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent pay roughly 30 percent. Do you consider that an equitable “membership fee”?
Because the Constitution -- or more generally if you like, the idea of what a Republic is -- has a lot more to it than the question of whether an income tax is within the powers of its institutions.
> the idea that the government has any right to tax private property at whatever valuation they see fit is a quick step towards a totalitarian nightmare.
It might be interesting to examine the question of how "the government may assess taxes at rates which can be justified to the citizens who elect representatives and other officeholders" transforms in the mind to "the government has any right to tax private property at whatever valuation they see fit", apparently without any notice of either the skipped steps or the actual observable realities of not-totalitarian-nightmare in America since 1913.
An income tax is wholly different from a property tax. A fundamental tenant to liberalism is that you have an innate right to your life, liberty, and property. Taxing income does not tax your property; it rather taxes the rate at which one acquires property. A property tax is a tax on an inalienable right. It's like the government requiring you to pay a specific tax in order to have particular freedoms. I find that to be morally questionable.
> "the government has any right to tax private property at whatever valuation they see fit"
You are insisting I am arguing against income tax. I'm not. The article (did you read it?) suggests a tax on personal property including real estate, luxuries, etc. These things do not have innate value that can be measured unless sold. Thus, someone needs to come up with a valuation.
Many (most?) towns already have a property tax on houses and condos.
Back to your point -- while property tax is a form of wealth tax, I do believe it is different. Real estate is a kind of property that one owns at the mercy of the state. It is not something that anyone -- other than sovereign governments -- really own. That being said, there is also danger in raising property taxes so i think any such tax should be met with intense scrutiny
That would be true if that tax was only on the value of the land. But it's not. The value of the structure on that land is part of the tax.
But I don't think this actually changes anything. Clearly, homes and condos are considered private property. Whether or not the government has certain rights to that property (eminent domain, search with a warrant), most people consider it their property. So house and condo taxes are going to be perceived by people as taxes on their property. I also claim that we are not currently in a "totalitarian nightmare." So maybe people are okay if the government decides on a case-by-case basis what kind of property can be taxed.
Also: some states have car taxes. And boat taxes.
Freedom isn’t just freedom from government. I don’t see much difference to someone with no money between bending the knee to Washington and bending it to google or Facebook.
In feudalism, the working class is considered the same as a home -- a part of the land -- that can be sold along with the estate. Asking how this differs from a free society with a subset of rich people is like asking how chattel slavery differs from modern society.
The fact is that Bill Gate's wealth does not impact my personal freedom or ability to collect my own wealth.
> Freedom isn’t just freedom from government
The purpose of government is to ensure freedom from other people -- that is why government is the one entity allowed to use mechanisms no other individual is allowed to use.
My fundamental disagreement with you is that I do not believe Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet's, etc, wealth impacts my inalienable right to life, liberty, and property.
That seems simple enough, however there are a multitude of secondary effects that happen when you allow individuals or corporations to amass the levels of wealth we see today. This enables them to monopolize markets through a variety of means and subvert the political process. Even without Citizen's United making bribery pretty much legal such wealthy entities would still be able to use their wealth to influence society.
Simply because Gates was in the right place and time to develop a near OS monopoly he should have a disproportionate say in society's politics?
These are not simple problems to solve, but then again they aren't that difficult either.
You mean their wealth allows them to offer people money to do services and provide goods in exchange for it? If Mark Zuckerberg or Gates were hiring hitmen, enslaving people with their private army, etc, we can have a conversation, but I won't condemn someone for asking someone else to do something for them and giving them money in return.
> Simply because Gates was in the right place and time to develop a near OS monopoly he should have a disproportionate say in society's politics?
Well I personally think the government should be doing substantially less, which reduces the efficacy of lobbying.
I am not sure what the question means. I have lots of opinions on what one 'should' do, but -- unless necessary to protect someone's life, liberty, or property -- I hesitate to enforce them by law. For example, I think driving a car to work when you could take a bus is immoral, and I think no one 'should' do that, but I would refuse to make it law. I feel similarly here.
But coming back to reality, Having more wealth means you have an increased ability to influence others.
Do you think being a famous artist means you 'should' be able to have a disproportionate say in society's politics? Why or why not? But regardless of what you think, famous people always do.
Coming back to Gates, I don't like that he has that ability personally, because I disagree with a lot of his social policy, but I won't stoop to taking his money. It is ultimately his money, earned legally. If you find he did something illegal, then I think he should be prosecuted and jailed.
> These are not simple problems to solve, but then again they aren't that difficult either.
Again, I think the fundamental disagreement is that I do not believe there is a problem. There is no allegation of criminal means of money accrual; there is no allegation of using that money in an illegal fashion. The only accusation is that they ask people (and I'm not talking politicians here -- that's illegal; I mean their NGO or corporate employees) to do things they want and offer them money in exchange. That is legal, and a fundamental right.
But it's wasn't universally met with disdain, it was broadly agreed upon. The amendment procedure requires 3/4 of the states to ratify it. The 16th amendment got 42 out of the 48 states at the time (87%).
Aside from this, federal income taxes were just a shift away from the previous way that the federal government raised money before the 16th amendment, which was primarily through tariffs. From a libertarian perspective, is there really much of a difference? Tariffs are regressive and come with all sorts of political issues that income taxes don't have.
Which seems like a perfectly rational statement.
This, but unironically
well, if we're capable of telling the good parts from the bad parts, why do we need it in the first place.
- edit, you contradicted your initial "slippery slope" point. either we judge the constitution or the constitution judges us. either it's a buffet where you take what you like or you don't. which one is it, tauthage?
If we lived in a world where the constitution currently allowed slavery, I'd say begone with it. But we do not, and I am uninterested in considering what I'd do if I lived in a time I do not.
This bold assumption is where the issue comes in. There's plenty of constitution that I'd be fine shredding and plenty more that could really use some specific, involved updating. The whole of the 2nd amendment can fuck off and I wouldn't shed a tear. 3rd feels like it doesn't need to be at "cornerstone of our government" levels, and the 4th could really use some extra juice to it. Also, based on recent events, we can get rid of the 10th and I'd be happier.
TL;dr- Having a constitution is great. Ours could use some work.
The entire offshore investment market only exists as a result of high tax burdens. Economic resources that go to sustaining that industry would be better spent expanding production of goods and services that enhance people's lives. The tax rates of major economies are far too high and beyond what is optimal..