It’s started. At least it’s started in our 15 minute attention span society: soak the rich. Without any question wealth inequality has never been greater at any time in industrial or post-industrial history. This is not good and has always led to serious trouble. The problem has been building and bubbling for quite some time. The reaction has been negligible to non-existent. Now relatively suddenly, an anguished outcry has raised its head, initiated not by the downtrodden undesirables but by a doctrinaire wing of the Democratic political party. The football loving and twitter addled public continues its deep sleep.
A coterie of politicians, Ocasio-Cortez, Harris, Sanders, Warren, and others, are on the rhetorical warpath against concentrated wealth. Their weapon, and their only weapon, is a blunderbuss: Taxation. Unfortunately, it’s a cure worse than the illness. It only transfers wealth to a monolithic black hole: government. Taxation is not a cure, it is an unholy nightmare.
The real problem with concentrated wealth is that it should never have happened. Rather than taxation, which is inefficient, imprecise, manipulative, morally questionable and always unequal, a system or philosophy must be developed which never permits massive concentrations of wealth to exist in the first place. Government probably needs a role at the table, but not as a tax leveler steamroller.
Let’s be frank. The point is that Bill Gates doesn’t need 95 billion dollars and Jeff Bezos doesn’t need 160 billion dollars. Whatever contribution they made to the development of their enterprises, it wasn’t that special, and certainly not worth 100,000 times the net worth of the workers who made it all possible anyway. Taxing Bezos and Gates puts the money into the wrong hands. The solution is to develop a mechanism or at least a philosophical consensus, that frowns upon and disables undeserving and undesirable accumulation on the way up. There is something drastically wrong with the current state of capitalism. Taxation will not fix it.