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Yeah? And? Is that so horrible? Haven’t you been rolling around in your mind this week the announcement that Bezos now has a personal fortune of well over two hundred billion dollars? UD has been rolling it around in her mind. Cuz… I dunno. It ain’t sitting right…

Even Steve Cohen’s paltry thirteen billion ain’t sitting right…

Yet

if a [presidential] candidate were to go the full Piketty—by proposing enormous taxes on the rich and taking steps toward surrendering [national] sovereignty to a transnational socialistic union—do we really think that nativism and nationalism would retreat, rather than redouble? Would erstwhile supporters of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, and Geert Wilders evolve beyond their fears of Muslim migration and accept the new utopia?

***************

Anyway. However you feel about Piketty’s proposals, you have to admire his refusal to be censored by radically unequal China. Think of all the copies of his latest book he could sell there. But he won’t, because he’s a man of principle. Bravo.

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4 Responses to “‘Under [economist Thomas] Piketty’s preferred system of taxation, it would be exceedingly difficult to maintain fortunes greater than thirty-eight million dollars or so in the United States—that is, greater than a hundred times average private wealth. Jeff Bezos would receive a bill for a hundred and nine billion dollars in Year One.’”

  1. Bill R Says:

    I fear Scathing Online Schoolmarm too much to write very much here but Bezos has developed goods and services very valuable to his billions of customers.

    I’m one of them.

    If there are only a single billion more, we each contributed 200 dollars to Bezos’ net worth. I’ve been a customer for 20 years or more. That’s 10 dollars per year. I call that the bargain of the century. Bezos is welcome to his money.

  2. UD Says:

    Bill R: I sometimes feel personally responsible for his massive wealth; I buy almost everything via Amazon. There’s no denying that he took risks, was brilliant, maintains a brilliant business, and deserves a lot of compensation for all of that. But in a world of need, no one person should hold/be able to determine the disbursement of over 20 billion dollars. It’s very much like my problem with Harvard’s endowment (over 40 billion) – I would argue that over a certain reasonable amount no institution or (much less) single human being should be in possession of that much money. When your personal wealth exceeds that of many nations, you are, monetarily speaking, no longer a “person” – your wealth is so large, so absurdly out of proportion to anything that a person might like to have/do – that a suffering world has greater claims on it than you do. It is perfectly possible to imagine a person hoarding billions of dollars and doing nothing at all charitable with them (beyond the involuntary “charity” of giving up some of it in taxes – but of course the richer you are the better you are at hiding your wealth from taxation) – and that is of course the prerogative of that person. She can choose to say ha fuck the world I just wanna sit on this stuff, and there’s nothing the world can do about that. Even when there IS some charitable activity, this activity may be responsible or irresponsible — it is totally the whim of the money owner.

    Morally, I just can’t make it work. Piketty’s idea of a supranational power is anathema to me, as is the idea of utterly shaking down the very wealthy. But beyond a big BIG chunk of change (5 billion? 50 BILLION???) I do think the state has a right to the rest. Just as I think Harvard should be compelled – via changes in tax laws, I guess – to stop sitting on all that money.

    **********************
    And there’s something SO quaint about pieces like this one, which attack billionaires. Single digit.

  3. Bill R Says:

    He’s not sitting on it. He has it invested somewhere. Even if he just puts it in the bank, the bank will lend it out and people will be able to buy cars or or more efficient aircraft or seed and fertilizer for next year’s crops or an investor will finance a new idea that someone is developing.

    Arguably, he is creating more wealth and happiness than if he just handed his money out on street corners.

    Sorry, I’m one of those tiresome people who read too much Milton Friedman. Friedman is one of those tiresome people who are almost always right.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Well, you’ve got me reading the “limitarians.” More later – I mean, I’ll post about this important subject soon. UD

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