Bill de Blasio Is Mean to the Rich

Bill de BlasioMatt 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:

Former Citigroup Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons said that he’d “gladly pay higher income taxes if all of the increase went to fund early education.” At the same time, Parsons said, he harbors doubts about de Blasio’s appreciation of “the importance of the business community and more significantly, what it will take to keep business thriving.”

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!)

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Bill de Blasio Is Mean to the Rich

  1. Yglesias is right, I believe, in suggesting that business types are pretty insecure. When you read any of the "insider" business books of the last 30 years ("Barbarians At The Gate," Smartest Guys In The Room," "House of Lies," even fiction accounts like "Bombadiers" or "The Privileges") one thing jumps out immediately; that these people all turd on each other nonstop. It’s a never-ending competition, like "Highlander" (there can be Only One!) that starts in college, or earlier. A guy who makes more money than you, or is at your level but younger, is your moral superior.

    Since in such an arrangement very, very few will feel self-secure, it’s important to lord it over the rest of the population. Bigger houses and better toys aren’t enough. You have to live in a vastly better plane of existence. If average blue-collar Americans all had decent housing, health insurance, opportunities for their kids, etc. (all things quite possible to make happen in our society), then what would be the point of subjecting oneself to the stress and petty humiliations of what used to be called "the rat race" (when it was far less ratty than today)?

    So it becomes vital to these people to define structuring society in an equitable way as "social engineering," benefitting the unworthy, and to define themselves as "self-made" (when even the richest of them is nothing more than a well-paid sycophant.) At the root of all this is, naturally, corporate power, and the way today’s corporation needs to make money harder and faster and dirtier than its competitors. Providing better services or products to customers at a better price is a fool’s game; that model became archaic decades ago, when corporations deliberately made it so.

    I was thinking the other day of "non-compete" and "non-disclosure" clauses, which every aspiring business employee has to sign. What are these, save ways to force business workers to accept and work within the rat race of a particular company? Yes, it’s probably best that employees aren’t allowed to jump ship and spill design secrets right before their previous employer is ready to deploy a new product line. The same goal could be achieved by only requiring workers on particular projects to not disclose information about that specific project, and still allowing them the freedom to change employers as they wish. Besides, it’s not as though corporations don’t rip each other off and spy on each other all the time, anyway — that’s what makes up the vast majority of American lawsuits, companies suing each other.

    I don’t pity the millionaire, exactly. The older I get, though, the more I realize they’re stuck in the same trap we all are, and it’s the trap, not the millionaire, that creates the rat-race-for-all mindset dominating American society today. Shit rolls downhill. I’d have more pity if I occasionally met the business sort who admitted it was all twisted but wanted good things for their family and hated having to become an asshole to get them. You don’t meet many like that; they’ve mostly swallowed the blue pill. I suppose if one doesn’t, it’s virtually impossible to last in a situation where everyone else believes the BS, or claims to.

  2. @JMF – Sure. Racism hurts the racist too. The truth is that the rich do better under Democratic administrations, and yet as a group they vote Republican. Why? Because they are trapped by their own thinking. They don’t know why they do things any more than Honey Boo Boo’s mom does.

    There is already social engineering going on that helps the rich. That’s why there is so little unionization and so much income inequality. These people always think whatever the [i]status quo[/i] is must be God given. It isn’t.

    In my life, I have signed so many contracts like that and more. I’ve gotten rather good at reading them and I can tell you that at least half of the stuff in those contracts is illegal. They are filled with waving rights that you simply can’t wave. It is not so much about protecting them legally as it is a form of social control. My attitude is that I will do what I want and if it becomes a problem, they can try to sue me.

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