Hence taxing yachts sounds to me like it could be smarter than taxing investment. (Not 100% sure, as usual with these things, just looks sensible at first glance.)
Earth is humanity's lonely island. (I realize it's more complicated than that because billions of men on Earth do not make decisions in the same way that a lonely man on an island does. All I'm saying is that it is still more desirable to invest than save when we can, at least past some point. The extent to which society depends on consumption, perhaps excessive consumption, today, and "how to get from here to there" I don't know. I am however certain that flogging savers badly enough with high taxes will result in people burning their savings in what "from humanity's point of view" are very wasteful ways; also in people saving less in the first place by working less in the first place, also not that great - "imagine you have a business, would you rather have a worker who wants to make as much as he can and save it, or work as little as needed to survive because he can't save?")
You are saying overconsumption by the super rich is ultimately environmentally damaging. (which i don't disagree with)
I am saying underconsumption by the middle/lowerclass is immediately economically damaging.
Prioritizing investment over consumption leads to inequality and poor economic outcomes.
Curbing consumption is immediately damaging to the economy. The better solution would be to heavily tax unsustainable business practices, rather than try to curb consumption. If you go after consumption you give more power to the super rich, while simultaneously doing nothing to discourage environmentally unsound business practices.
Why is it better to continue producing products in an environmentally unfriendly way with lower consumption of goods, rather than lowering the production of environmentally damaging products, while raising consumption rates of sustainable products?
Go after the supply not the demand.
The key point is that taxes on investments create distortions while taxes on consumption don't. It's even worse if you tax different investments differently (e.g., interest vs cap gains, short term vs long term cap gains).
Such a cute - yet content-free - dismissal. It's also pretty clear from your "critique" that you didn't even read the article - while Sumner's examples do use a positive rate of return, his argument is independent of it.
> Suppose we want to raise revenue with a present value of $20,000...We could have a wage tax of 20%, and raise $20,000 right now.
> In contrast, an income tax doubles taxes the money saved, once as wages, and again as capital income . So now it’s $40,000 consumption this year, and only $72,000 in 20 years ($80,000 minus 20% tax on the $40,000 in investment income), an effective tax rate of 28% on future consumption
So the line of reasoning is:
1. The government wishes to raise $20k NPV in taxes
2. A 20% wage tax or VAT will accomplish this exactly, but a 20% income tax will raise $24k NPV, which means it is an effectively higher tax
3. Therefore income taxes are worse than wage taxes or VAT.
But that doesn't follow at all. The correct conclusion is that an income tax raises the same revenue with a lower nominal rate. That doesn't by itself make an income tax better or worse.
I.e., if Steve blows all his money on hookers, he pays a 20% tax. However, if Sally judiciously saves her money for a rainy day or unexpected expense, she will be paying a 28% tax rate.
There should be a way for entrepreneurs to tap into that money directly, avoiding the wealthy, gate-keeping middle-men. I resent those people, because the irony is that such people make money as money flows through them, thanks to fees, so even their wealth doesn't necessarily mean they are any good at allocation. Even if you take into account returns, in a growing economy when most bets are good bets. Money should flow through people who know how to make real things, not just make decisions.
Which, by the way, is the entire point of the Fed reducing interest rates - to stimulate growth by encouraging increased spending (including investment) of cheaply-borrowed money.