Economic Illiteracy

It’s all a bit tiresome.

The wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers pay 32 percent of all income tax collected by the federal government in the US, and it is a similar amount in Canada.  And the bottom 50% of income earners pay nothing.  Nada.  Yet, in the grand scheme of things they are the ones reaping the most in terms of government assistance programs.  So wealth distribution is already underway at a staggering scale.

That being said, given our deficits and spending levels if you totally confiscated the wealth of the top 1%, how long would it run the government?  For a couple of months, that’s it.  And then at the end of the day you’d be left with nothing – unless you start casting your eyes at the new 1%, who were in the 99th percentile before the 100th percentile earners were vanquished.

Regardless, this is the new cause celebre it seems.  Take Stephen King for example in this ridiculous rant.  A good writer, but clearly not a deep thinker on economic issues, or even economically literate for that matter. 

How would taxing rich people eliminate income disparities?  By having government spend it on programs for the poor and middle class?  What the f*ck do you think the government has been doing for the past 50, 60 years?  How did we rack up huge deficits, by accident?  Who was General Motors and Chrysler bailed out for?  Whose mortgages were being protected by bailing out Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?  Or would he rather just load up a dump truck of rich people’s cash and drop it off in random urban intersections?  It would have about the same effect.

And then his claim that if he makes $200m off of a hit film, he doesn’t create more jobs is bullshit too – does his money go into his mattress at home?   If he invests in government bonds then he can sleep at night knowing he’s helped finance some of the ridiculous government schemes he seems to be a fan of.  He tries to through us off the investment rap, because he tells us to go look at any Wal-Mart and all the crap manufactured over there – no doubt.  Why are you confusing issues?  Don’t invest in companies that produce overseas – we have no problem with that, and as a matter of fact would support that kind of personal decision.  But that doesn’t negate the fact that investment is required for economic growth, and rich people have money to invest.

Look, we’re not in favour of ostentatious wealth either.  Something has gone wrong when CEO’s are getting compensation that are thousands of times more than the base level workers in their organizations.  And we should discuss what those reasons are, why are the super rich becoming even more rich, how did it come about that every second piece of crap we buy in this country is produced in China, a “Marxist” dictatorship with slave labour practices, why mobility between classes is stagnating and why entrepreneurial spirit is in decline.  These are all important questions. 

But King is just another example of super rich celebs who realize that underneath it all they are just highly paid court jesters or entertainers, and who now feel the need to justify their wealth on some sort of moral level.  He didn’t cure cancer, or develop a new technology – he wrote pulp fiction that people liked and were willing to pay money for.  That’s it.  And no one should have a problem with how he became rich – good for him– but we do wish that he’d shut up.   It’s all a bunch of self-serving bollocks.  The government should call his bluff (because that is what it is) and take his money.  All of it.  And then we’ll see if he’s such a fan of paying big taxes as part of his patriotic duty.

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