Stop Taxing the Rich
Only billionaires can save us now
Dan Price is one of my favorite follows on Twitter.
(He’s the long-haired dude who took a million-dollar pay cut so every single one of his employees could make $70,000+per year, including janitors.)
He tweeted something interesting and depressing the other day:
“Since the pandemic started, ten U.S. men doubled their collective wealth from $750 billion to $1.5 trillion.
They pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.
We just sent 5 million kids into poverty by taking away the child tax credit to “save” $60 billion.
Billionaire tax now.”
While I am 100% in agreement with Dan’s worthy sentiments, I think there’s a better way to create widest-spread well-being in our society.
We need to do the opposite of what Dan is recommending.
We need to stop taxing billionaires.
Taxing billionaires doesn’t work
Rest assured, my beloved Surviving Tomorrow readers, that I have not been kicked in the head by a horse and have suddenly converted to the delusional metaverse known as far-right libertarianism.
I don’t want to stop taxing billionaires because I’m suddenly pro-billionaire, pro-corporatism, or in favor of the suffering of billions of people and the destruction of the only known planet suitable for human habitation.
I just know it won’t work.
It is now impossible to meaningfully tax billionaires:
Billionaires are professional tax evaders. (Here’s exactly how they do it.)
Billionaires own the GOP and DNC — and their corrupt politicians simply do not create loophole-free taxation laws.
Even if our sociopathic politicians passed a meager 10% tax on billionaire wealth to appease the masses and avoid riots, they’d immediately waste that tax money on pet programs that enrich their corporate donors, and not on the Americans who actually need it most.
Even if sheeplike Americans suddenly woke up and started voting for a new centrist pro-democracy third party en masse, billionaires now have enough wealth to create their own micro-sovereignties if threatened with real, democratic taxation.
But never mind all that. Not only is meaningfully taxing billionaires impossible; it’s also not psychologically preferable.
Because it sends the wrong message.
The problem with redistribution
There are several major psychological problems with taxing billionaires to redistribute the wealth to people in need. The psychology of taxation is something we don’t talk about often enough, and I believe it’s time we bring it to center stage:
1. Taxing billionaires makes them feel like something has been taken away from them.
Yesterday, my baby son Concord was playing happily in my lap. Michelle handed me a bottle of breastmilk. Concord didn’t ask for it, but I gave it to him anyway. A minute later I pulled it away, and he screamed bloody murder. Why? Because I took it away.
Billionaires are like screaming babies.
If we never gave it to them in the first place, they wouldn’t scream when we take it away.
2. Taxing billionaires gives them the false impression that it was their money in the first place.
Elon Musk — the Marie Antoinette of our generation — is the textbook example of someone who genuinely thinks his money is his.
This is a techno-grifter who’s received nearly $10 billion in corporate socialism at tax-payer expense, using our currency, our educated workforce, our infrastructure, our judiciary and property rights, our military and policing, and our economy, and he thinks he’s the only person who gets to decide how he gets to spend our dollars? On what false grounds?
At the end of the day, he doesn’t have the final say on how American money gets distributed — the American people do.
3. Taxing billionaires gives them the false impression they actually “earned” all that money.
It is mathematically impossible to “earn” a billion dollars in a democratic society. (America is a nearly-rules-free-market metaverse that believes a single homo sapien can create a billion dollars in “value,” but people who live in reality understand this is societal hogwash.)
If you worked a job that paid $50 per hour, you’d have to work full-time for 10,000 years to properly earn $1,000,000,000.00.
It’s just not possible in a democracy of rational citizens.
4. Taxing billionaires gives them the false impression that they are entitled to trillions of dollars of worker-created wealth.
Workers create 100% of every company’s value. Billionaires “earn” their money by extracting value from the planet, their suppliers, their employees, their customers, and taxpayers.
The moral truth is that all American wealth belongs to the American people, and democracy should ultimately decide how it is distributed, re-distributed, or ideally…
“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Dan Riffle
We need to forget about fruitlessly trying to tax billionaires and re-enforcing their elitist mindset in the process — we need a fairer pre-distribution that reflects our commons values.
What could this look like, practically?
Imagine if 50+% of all company stock had to be fairly distributed to the workers of each company.
Imagine if every adult American was entitled to a truly living-wage job guarantee so they could decline low-paying private-sector jobs, thus creating a market condition that would force companies to compete against democracy to pay workers closer to their fair share.
Imagine if every single worker in America was automatically enrolled in a union that fought against corporations to secure them higher wages, more ownership, better and safer working conditions, and a real stake in the value they’re creating.
If we did these three things, workers would re-gain the purchasing power that has been stolen from them since 1971.
If we did these things, elites would no longer have the economic power to undermine democracy.
If we did these things, the people would have a real stake in the nation they’re building.
If we did these things, we’d end up with a world without billionaires.
But, of course, these three things will never happen in America.
If you throw a ball into the air, it doesn’t fly into outer space.
Because you didn’t throw it hard enough.
According to trusty Wikipedia, escape velocity is “the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a primary body.” In other words, it’s how fast you’d need to go in order to bust out of Earth’s gravitational pull and head for the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.
(In case you’re wondering, the escape velocity of earth is ve = √2 × 9.8 × 6.4 × 106… requiring a speed of 40,270 km per hour.)
I believe Earth’s 2,755 billionaires have reached economic escape velocity and we cannot reign them in:
We can’t get fair pre-distribution because billionaires own the DNC and GOP.
We can’t get real democracy because people won’t stop voting for the DNC and GOP, and both sides are working hard to ensure no pro-democracy third party can ever get elected.
Violent revolution, while never the ethical choice, isn’t even a feasible option in the U.S. because citizens are up against the strongest military in human history. Billionaires own the DNC and GOP, and therefore the military and police state; there is no revolution they cannot quell. None. Plus, corporatists who understand weapons aren’t necessary to control the people; you can just drain their wealth slowly through price inflation and wage stagnation, like a frog slowly boiling in water. I’ve been to North Korea — never underestimate a powerful military’s ability to keep people under its boot, weaponizing physical force and economics.
Not enough people will stop buying from the planet-wrecking, people-enslaving, democracy-smashing, tax-evading multinational corporations to drain them of their power. Plus, as corporations rapidly inflate the cost of housing and move the global economy to a serfdom subscription model, people won’t be able to afford to shop anywhere else, locking them into economic dependence on the very entities that are ruining their future.
And let’s be brutally honest: Many readers own stock in these predator companies through their pension fund investments in the S&P 500, and are therefore quietly complicit with the downfall of American democracy.
My dear friends, perhaps we just need to start accepting our place in history:
We’re on the road back to serfdom, and billionaires are the new feudal overlords.
And if there’s one thing we know about feudal overlords, it’s that they don’t usually let the serfs decide tax policy.
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