Matt Yglesias brought my attention to this really bizarre article at Bloomberg, Wealthy New Yorkers Call De Blasio’s Tax Plan Offensive. Yglesias says much of what needs to be said, but I wanted to add a couple of things.
In New York, Bill de Blasio wants to raise taxes on incomes over a half million dollars per year in order to pay for universal preschool. That was all well and fine when de Blasio wasn’t going to become mayor. But now that this is almost certain, the rich are shocked—Shocked I tell you!—that he would treat them so ill. Kathryn Wylde, for example, said, “It shows lack of sensitivity to the city’s biggest revenue providers and job creators.” Right there, you know you are talking to someone with her head up her ass. “Job creators”? Really?! Are we really still on that, because as I’ve written before, the job creator is a myth.
But this isn’t just about protecting the mythical job creators. The rich are attacking from all sides. They also claim that de Blasio shouldn’t even be talking about it because it will never get through the legislature. So taxing the rich lacks sensitivity but also will never happen. But wait, there’s more! Michael Steinhardt, while agreeing that income inequality is “troubling,” says, “perhaps even more so is the thought that more government spending is the way out of our problems.” So that lacks sensitivity, will never happen, but really shouldn’t happen.
So how big a tax increase is this? Well, as you can imagine, it’s enormous. It is the kind of thing that will likely shut down the whole New York Stock Exchange. Currently, income over $500,000 is taxed at 3.9%. De Blosio wants to change it to 44%! Wait, that’s not right. It’s 4.4%. Hold on there! That’s not much of a tax increase. That’s a 0.4 percentage point change, or a 12% increase that doesn’t apply to a whole bunch of money. But I can see why billionaire hedge fund managers would be upset. What I can’t see is why the rest of us should give a shit.
But don’t worry! Bloomberg tells us why this is unwise and unfair. You see, the rich already pay a large share of the taxes. They don’t explain that this is yet another example of just how unequal and unfair our economic system is. These people pay so much in taxes because they earn such unreasonable salaries. And this is understood by George Soros at least. He said that the idea “is sound public policy and will have a powerful impact on reducing inequality.” But some rich supporters are not so unreserved:
I have a couple of problems with this. First, is he saying that his support is only if the money goes to this cause? That sounds awfully elitist to me. I just pay my taxes every year. They go to all kinds of stuff I don’t agree with. That’s the deal, although I suspect that Parsons is correct to think that he can negotiate about this stuff. The rest of it is “job creator” bullshit. Oh yes, we all have to get down on our knees for these business people or they won’t “create” jobs for us.
Matt Yglesias points out that this goes right along with the needs hierarchy. The rich already have all the material things they could want. What’s left? Respect! They want everyone fawning all over them telling them how great they are. The problem from my perspective is that I’m a lot more concerned about people who are having troubling getting by than I am about the very tender feelings of the rich. And I have a solution for the problems of the rich: they could do things that would make the rest of us respect them. But I’m not holding my breath. (Most likely, tomorrow, I will have an article on that very subject!)