Sunday, July 20, 2014

masaccio — Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

We need to focus our energy on one fight, going straight for the beating heart of the filthy rich.I heard a little about inequality at Netroots Nation, but there was a depressing sameness to it. Everyone wants to talk about income inequality. No one wants to talk about our horrifying wealth inequality and the enormous damage it does to our society.…

The plain fact is that these crackpot billionaires and all the millionaires who own or manage businesses are ruining the country, using their fabulous wealth to trample every decent impulse of decent people into the muck. There are probably 60,000 households in this country who can afford to buy a congressman or a senator or a crucial bureaucrat to support their pet issue by paying $300,000 into their campaigns or hiring their family or contributing to their favorite charity or putting a little something into their pockets on their way in or out of the revolving door into government service or paying them $200,000 for a meaningless speech and a meet and greet.…
We know that the Oligarchs have three principal goals:
1. Protecting and preserving wealth
2. Insuring the unrestricted use of wealth
3. Acquiring more wealth.…

The solution is obvious: we have to force these cheats and thugs to move back to goal 1, defending their wealth. Piketty has laid out the plan. We tax wealth world-wide. We raise marginal tax rates on the highest incomes. We increase the estate tax on huge estates. We enforce those rules through aggressive use of the records the financial sector maintains. He suggests imposing a small tax at first on wealth, so that we can know who actually owns it. I’d add that then we say that undisclosed and untaxed wealth escheats to the nation that finds it, with a reward to any individual who is directly or indirectly responsible for disclosure. As a side benefit, we get to learn about drug lords, arms runners and Ponzi Schemers.
This idea isn’t about some supposed need to raise revenues to fund the budget, because we know there is no need to do that. Taxes For Revenue is Obsolete, as we learned from by Beardsley Ruml, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in 1946. Taxes serve a number of purposes, including limiting political power of the rich. Raising revenue isn’t one of them, as Ruml demonstrates. The point is to engage directly on the issue of the undeserved and unwarranted political influence of the rich, not to suggest that we lack the resources to live in a decent society. We focus our energy on one fight, going straight for the beating heart of the filthy rich.

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