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Sunday, April 7, 2024

No, wealth is not for the government to take and redistribute

The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the 24th century. The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.


In Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard explains to a 21st-century visitor why money is not important.


After reading this article in The Atlantic, I was remined of something from the late great Rush Limbaugh back in the mid-90s. He spoke of how a GOP member of the congress asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate, by year, how much revenue would be raised if you taxed all income over $250,000 at one-hundred precent. You would have to make it retroactive (see the Clinton budget of 1993), but as I recall the CBO said (going by a 30-year memory), “The initial year would be 225 billion dollars, the following year would be 243 billion dollars, etc.”


The obvious reality would be next year, no one would make a salary of over 250K. What is the point?  Two things about liberals and the money you have. One, it is theirs, not yours. Two, their attitude is, “We take it from you, we know how to spend it wisely, and you will just smile and say, ‘Thank you sir, take some more.’” You won’t, or should not,  do anything to avoid paying any more taxes.


But this article is rather interesting. Let’s look at a few points.


What Would Society Look Like if Extreme Wealth Were Impossible?


Limitarianism questions the idea that individual wealth is ever individual.


By Christine Emba April 1, 2024


In February, 93-year-old Ruth Gottesman, a former professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the widow of financier David Gottesman, announced a gift of $1 billion to her school. With the funds came instructions: The money is to be used to make tuition free for students at the Bronx institution, in perpetuity.


The donation was celebrated—for its size, of course, but also for its humanitarian cast. As the New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante put it, Gottesman’s giving “broadcasts a message of how a billionaire might live his or her best life—without terra-forming Mars, without Burning Man, without the attempts to stealth-run Harvard…”


A generous donation on behalf of Ms. Gottesman, but if her late husband David had not acquired this wealth through his work, and she had not inherited it, the free tuition would have never happened. No Ms. Emba, the Gottesmans did not inherit their wealth, but acquired it over decades of investment, knowing the right people, and being disciplined.


…Endowing an underfunded medical school is clearly a better use of money than buying yet another super-yacht.


That is your opinion Ms. Emba, not a fact. Many colleges suck up millions and their endowments are greater than the GDP of other nations, e.g., Harvard and Yale. But for some reason they won’t put out their fair share and allow students to attend tuition free.


I would also remind you what happened when a former Democratic administration put a luxury tax on yachts. The rich buyers simply went overseas to purchase their new toys. The people who this hurt were not the “super rich,” but the middle class people who produced, sold, and serviced these yachts.


“For a long time, I felt there was something wrong with an individual amassing so much money, but I couldn’t properly articulate why,” writes the Dutch philosopher Ingrid Robeyns. “After a decade of analyzing and debating extreme wealth, I became convinced that we must create a world in which no one is super-rich—that there must be a cap on the amount of wealth any one person can have. I call this limitarianism.” In her book of the same name, Robeyns fleshes out the case for such a cap while upending common conceptions of agency, ownership, and what a fortune really signifies.


Extreme wealth keeps the poor poor, she argues, and expands inequality. The super-rich undermine democracy through their outsize political influence and wreck the climate with their luxurious lifestyles. Some of their money is acquired through questionable means—from exploitative business practices, or dodging taxes, or outright theft. Robeyns argues that no one deserves such excess, that people would be better off morally and psychologically without it, and that there are better uses for society’s spillover abundance—ending poverty, say, or improving infrastructure. Even well-intentioned philanthropy doesn’t make up for these downsides: It’s no stand-in for a well-functioning, well-funded government—the sort that the wealthy often undermine in the course of making their fortune…


Again, who are you to determine when I’ve made enough money? I recall a previous president lecturing a tradesman, “I do believe at some point you’ve made enough money.” Now he has no issue with himself being worth 70 million with speeches and make work positions on boards, etc.


I’ve known rich people before, and I’ve yet to meet one who had become rich because of “public service.” Obama (and Clinton) was not rich before the presidency, but somehow became fabulously wealthy after the White House. On the contrary, George W Bush was worth 20 million before achieving the presidency, mainly by oil and professional sports. Donald Trump entered the White House a multi-billionaire and actually lost wealth during his term. Ronald Reagan was worth over 20 million in 1981. And unlike the current Democratic alumni of the Oval Office, they money is rather unambiguous.


A don’t disparage anyone achieving wealth, by legal means. I do take serious offense of a rich leftist lecturing me on achieving a degree of prosperity from their personal yachts and Lear Jets.  


And it’s that government and its citizens on which any fortune depends. “Take any multimillionaire or billionaire, and put them on a desert island,” Robeyns writes. “They still have all the same talents and personal traits as before. How rich could they become? Not very rich, obviously.”


I think we have the issue here. Obviously on an abandoned island, the effort would be for survival, not things above  food, water, and shelter. But people with intelligence (not necessarily education), ideas, and drive will come up with something that people are willing to spend the results of their labors on, i.e., their disposable income, on. A few examples:


-      Henry Ford and his automobile.


-      Steve Jobs and Apple computer.


-    Elon Musk with electric cars, online pay programs and commercial space launch systems.

-  Joe Kennedy Sr and his whiskey.


Of the current ten richest men on earth, nine started with relative non-wealth in their early days. I dare say if you try to take their wealth from them, the company will immediately transfer its flag to a less insane nation like Switzerland or Lower Slovia. These men (and women) have worked for their success. They will not just hand it over to a politician because of a law.


But if you want to take the ill-gotten wealth of the superrich, I suggest you go after the liberals who want to steal from the American people. Ms. Bill Clinton, John Kerry (you know, the dude who dodged Massachusetts taxes by docking his yacht in New Hampshire). Let’s  not forget Elizabeth “Faukahuntus” Warren, she of lecturing students to not use real estate to make money, but she has no issue with herself making millions in the market. Or take a look at non-profit programs where the uber rich can park billions of dollars, give away a few million a year and dodge a fortune in taxes (See Bill Gates Discovery Foundation).


I have to say I’m interested in reading Ms. Robeyns book, but I definitely don’t want to buy it. Might drive her into illegitimate wealth and we don’t want to drive up her individual wealth.