Why We Ask: Our mission and operations are funded 100% by conservatives like you. Please help us continue to extend Liberty to the next generation and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today.

Walter E. Williams / May 13, 2020

Let’s Not Waste a Crisis

Former Barack Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, during a recent interview, reminded us of his 2008 financial crisis quotation, “Never allow a crisis to go to waste.”

Former Barack Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, during a recent interview, reminded us of his 2008 financial crisis quotation, “Never allow a crisis to go to waste.” The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a wonderful opportunity for those of us who want greater control over our lives. Sadly, too many Americans have already taken the bait. We’ve allowed politicians and bureaucrats to dictate to us what’s an essential business and what isn’t, who has access to hospitals and who hasn’t, and a host of minor and major dictates.

Leftist politicians who want to get into our pocketbooks are beginning to argue that the COVID-19 pandemic is the best argument for a wealth tax. Let’s first define a wealth tax. A wealth tax is applicable to and levied on a variety of accumulated assets that include cash, money market funds, real property, trust funds, owner-occupied housing and other wealth accumulations. Assume a taxpayer earns $150,000 a year and falls in the 32% tax bracket. That individual’s income tax liability for the year will be 32% x $150,000 or $48,800. Say the taxpayer has a net worth of $500,000 consisting of a business or home and the government imposes a wealth tax of 32%, the person’s tax liability is $160,000.

The problem with most politicians is when they enact a law, they seldom ask, “Then what?” They assume a world of what economists call zero elasticity wherein people behave after a tax is imposed just as they behaved before the tax was imposed and the only difference is that more money comes into the government’s tax coffers. The long-term effect of a wealth tax is that people will try to avoid it by not accumulating as much wealth or concealing the wealth they accumulate.

A wealth tax has become increasingly attractive because it lends itself to demagoguery about the significant wealth disparity in the United States. The Federal Reserve reports that, in 2018, the wealthiest 10% of Americans owned 70% of the country’s wealth, and the richest 1% owned 32% of the wealth. That fact gave Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren incentives to propose a wealth tax as a part of their campaign rhetoric. Leftists lament that multibillionaires such as Charles Koch, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and Sheldon Adelson have not made charitable efforts to address the coronavirus crisis.

My questions to these political leeches are: To whom does the billionaire’s wealth belong? And how did they accumulate such wealth?

Did they accumulate their great wealth by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man, as has been the case throughout most of human history? No, they accumulated great wealth by serving and pleasing their fellow man in the pursuit of profits. Unfortunately, demagoguery and lack of understanding has led to “profit” becoming a dirty word. Profit is a payment to entrepreneurs just as wages are payments to labor, interest to capital and rent to land. In order to earn profits in free markets, entrepreneurs must identify and satisfy human wants in a way that economizes on society’s scarce resources.

Here’s a question for you. Which entities produce greater consumer satisfaction: for-profit enterprises such as supermarkets, computer makers and clothing stores, or nonprofit entities such as public schools, post offices and motor vehicle departments? I’m guessing you’ll answer the former. Their survival depends on pleasing ordinary people. Public schools, post offices and motor vehicle departments’ survival are not strictly tied to pleasing people but rather on politicians and the ability of government to impose taxes.

Some advocates of wealth taxes and other forms of taxation might argue that they are temporary measures to get us over the COVID-19 crisis. Do not buy that argument. The great Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman once said, “Nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program.” The telephone tax was levied on wealthy Americans with telephones in 1898 to help fund the Spanish-American War. That tax was repealed over 100 years later in 2006. One of the objectives of the World War II withholding tax was to bring faster revenues to fight the war. The withholding of taxes is still with us blinding Americans on the taxes they pay. Let us not allow a crisis to bamboozle us again.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.