Jonathan Swift once modestly proposed alleviating the Irish famine by dining on the young.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasee, or a ragoust.
For Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others on the Left, what’s on the menu this year is billionaires. Surely cannibalizing the wealthy will provide a far more satisfying feast than children. They somehow never tell us who will be on the menu next year after we’ve finished feasting on Bill Gates, polished off Bezos on a bun, and made pot pie from whatever’s left over from devouring Warren Buffet.
“A system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health, is wrong,” Ocasio-Cortez told an MLK event. Her senior policy staffer Dan Riffle actually changed his Twitter handle to “Every Billionaire is a Policy Failure.”
Whether its global warming “solutions,” socialized medicine, loan “forgiveness,” racial “reparations,” or just plain old redistribution (free stuff), every day we hear calls on the Left for new spending that totals high into the trillions. When asked how to pay for it, they pretend their largesse won’t cost you or me a dime, by calling for wealth taxes on the richest Americans.
Left-wing math never adds up. It’s one of the main reasons that Socialism is so effective at laying nations low.
Let’s check the billionaire facts.
Bloomberg and Forbes maintain lists that track the daily wealth of the the world’s richest people. Today they peg Bill Gates at around $96 billion and Jeff Bezos at a stunning $131 billion! Why not confiscate all of it today? We could immediately end hunger and homelessness shout the furthest Left. Why limit ourselves to a mere Warren or Sanders-style 2-5% annual confiscation?
If we set aside envy as a powerful motivating force, by a crucial measue, the world’s two richest men aren’t as wealthy as you might think.
A billionaire’s wealth may be vast when compared to that of an average American (including everyone at CFACT), but pales when compared to the vast sums spent every day by government.
The U.S. “debt clock” reveals America’s national debt at over 23 TRILLION DOLLARS. Confiscating Bill Gate’s 96 billion would reduce the debt from 23 trillion and 75 billion dollars to 22 trillion and 979 billion. With Gates down to zero, we can go on working our way down the rich list grabbing, taking and redistributing (as if the Left would do anything as responsible with a one-time windfall as pay off debt). Now what?
The federal government spends four and a half trillion dollars per year. Combine that with state and local governments and we’re spending over $8.14 trillion per year!
Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates may be the world’s two richest men. They are pipsqueaks when measured against Leviathan.
The states are in debt for one and three quarter TRILLION DOLLARS, and have unfunded pension liablities of $6.8 TRILLION.
Gates and Bezos both hail from Washington State which is on track to spend over $94 billion this year and is over $89 billion in debt. Confiscate everything they have and they can pay the Evergreen State’s finances for one year. Then the money’s gone, and to a great extent Amazon and Microsoft along with it.
The deep thinkers on the Left apparently think that Gates and Bezos keep their money in a big box we could open and share. Their wealth is actually found in the value of the businesses they created and the investments they’ve made since. Imagine the economic earthquake were it all suddenly gone.
While the Left still dips into the well of Marx and Engels when they theorize about our economy, their recent favorite is French economist Thomas Pikkety, whose book Capital in the Twenty-First Century topped the New York Times best sellers list. In that and other books Pikkety proposes high taxation to level “economic inequality” with the curious notion that governments can allocate resources more efficiently than individuals.
Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman are the architeccts of Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax. In their just released, The Triumph of Injustice they call for massive increases in income and wealth taxes to create what they call “tax justice” to stop wealth “accumulating with hardly any barrier.”
A small group of fashionably left-wing, very rich people have issued a call for confiscatory taxes on wealth to level the playing field. Twenty of them including the ever controversial George Soros and the granddaughter of Roy Disney signed An Open Letter to the 2020 Presidential Candidates: It’s Time to Tax Us More. Although Abigail Disney received a “class traitor award” for her activism, none of the signatories has led the way by voluntarily giving away enough of their wealth to join the ranks of the average.
Liesel Pritzker Simmons one of the heirs of a fortune that stems largely from Hyatt Hotels signed the letter as did Ian Simmons, heir to one-time retail giant Montgomery Ward and Molly Munger, daughter of Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger. They believe that their wealth could be allocated more “efficiently” by the democratic processes of government. None of these spoiled scions of wealth seem to reflect much on how much societal good was created by their uber-creative forebears. Consider the massive economic contributions of Disney, Hyatt, Montgomery Ward and Berkshire Hathaway. Could committees of government planners have housed, fed, clothed and entertained us better?
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had his $70 billion fortune long and he is still coming to grips with it. “I think if you do something that’s good, you get rewarded,” he recently said, “but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.” Zuckerberg himself, however, is a powerful argument for free markets, unless it is your belief that a government planning committee could have done a better job of creating an online social network that could link billions of people together, or even have conceived that such a thing could exist.
For those who think government economic decision-making is more efficient than free markets (and have never visited the DMV), the lessons of history are plain to see. (Well, they would be if history was still taught in schools). Soviet-style economic planning failed miserably. India and China stagnated for half a century under Democratic Socialism and full-blown Communism respectively. Only the embrace of free-market competition allowed them to advance. People flee from North Korea to the South, never the other way round. The Venezuelan example couldn’t be more fresh.
The new American Left makes intuitive assumptive leaps that don’t hold up. For instance, the Americans who top the billionaire lists are overwhelmigly recent additions. Bezos, Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and not the heirs of inter-generational wealth, which seldom lasts. The Walton family fortune got going in the 1960s, the Koch family in the 1920s. Any professional fundraiser can tell you that inter-generational wealth in America seldom lasts beyond three generations.
If you search the billionaire lists you won’t find any Rockefellers, Duponts, Astors, Morgans, Cabots, Lowells, or Guggenheims. You won’t find the descendants of Thomas Edison, nor his rival Westinghouse. Dennis Washington is number 290 on the Forbes list with an estmiated forture of $5.9 billion. He is a self-made man in construction with no financial connection to George Washington and his Mt. Vernon wealth. You won’t find any Franklins, Adams, Hancocks, Jeffersons or Madisons atop the rich list. You won’t even find any Roosevelts.
The Left relies on misleading factoids to justify their weath inequality push. The Foundation for Economic Education did a great job of debunking one of them. Consider this whopper: “Three US billionaires are now collectively worth more than the 160 million Americans in the bottom half of the wealth distribution… Few of the bottom 160 million hold any stocks or bonds.” How do they come up with this one? By using demographics to lump together kids and students with prisoners, the disabled and people who do not save. Most kids and teenagers haven’t started building their nest eggs yet. The figure that results is meaningless. You know who else has more money than the hundreds of millions of kids and people with zero or negative net worths combined? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders whom Forbes pegs as possessing $12 million and $2.3 million respectively.
To put it in left-wing propaganda terms, Bernie Sanders has more wealth than the bottom half of America combined.
As Monty Python’s Dennis Moore said, “Wait a tic … blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.”
Should we feast on billionaires this Thanksgiving?
Aesop told a story of a goose that every day laid a golden egg. The couple that owned it cut it open to extract all the gold at once, but found only an ordinary dead goose inside. That was the end of the golden eggs.
As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “the trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Who’s nest egg do you think they’ll crack next?