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It’s an exciting time for you guys. You know you can beat those hedge fund managers. You’re better educated, you’re ambitious and creative. Go for $10 billion. Or maybe, a few years from now, you’ll be the first trillion dollar man!
Here’s an example to motivate you. In just one year a single hedge fund manager made enough money to hire 100,000 new teachers while calling his $5 billion income “carried interest” so he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes.
Tough to beat, I know, but take it as a challenge. Go invest, young man. Go for a trillion. That’s only 200 times more than the hedge fund haul. Once you hit a trillion, you’ll be close to the total U.S. income of $8 trillion. You’ll get a perfect score on the Gini income distribution scale. You’ll be famous. All the new foundations will be named after you.
Of course, you’ve got a lot of competition right now, a lot of colleagues who would like their own piece of the pie. The financial sector, which made up 16% of domestic corporate profits in 1980, now makes up over 40% of those profits. The best and brightest graduate students aren’t going into science or engineering or medicine anymore. They’re going into finance. No sense making products when you can make bets on mortgage failures, using other people’s money in case the bets go bad.
More motivation comes to you from the incomparable Ayn Rand, whose “Atlas Shrugged” paved the way for unbounded post-war capitalism. “Run for your life,” she says, “from any man who tells you that money is evil…money is the barometer of a society’s virtue.”
You have Congress on your side, with its continued support for lower taxes on earnings that don’t require any work, most of the gains going to the 20% of Americanswho own 90 percent of the stocks. And you’ve perfected the art of financial subterfuge with illusions that would do a carnival magician proud:
- “Spring Loading”: Timing a stock option to precede good corporate news.
- “Bullet Dodging”: Timing a stock option to follow bad corporate news.
- Back-Dating: Changing the purchase date on a stock option to a time when the price was lower.
- ‘Put’ and ‘Call’ chicanery: Getting a tax credit for a stock loss without actually selling the stock.
- Real Estate rascality: Avoiding taxes on a property sale by calling it a loan.
Never mind that the SEC thinks a lot of this is illegal. And don’t listen to the liberals and radicals who say you should be paying for government-funded research and infrastructure and national security instead of paying tax advisors to find creative loophole strategies.
You, finance grad, will be a self-made man. You don’t need government when you can create your own mini-society with private schools and security forces, a $250,000 playhouse for the kids, a yacht complete with golf course, submarine, beach, and a second-home mortgage deduction.
You will be creating jobs (on the yacht). You will be contributing more and more to our political system. You will be an example for the millions of Americans who plan to earn as much as you, or to be an NBA star. And above all, you can reflect upon what future generations will say you contributed to this world.