Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

The Rich Don’t Need It So It Should Be Taxed

A Richard Murphy

A comment from one of those tax justice campaigners which provides an interesting insight into the mindset. A useful definition perhaps of their meaning of “justice“:

Richard Murphy says:
January 24 2020 at 5:36 pm
Stephanie Kelton agrees we need to tax the rich more

It’s not because we need their money

It’s because they don’t need it

Hmm, well. That rather ignores the fact that they went out – often enough, the majority of the Forbes 400 did make their fortunes, not inherit or steal them – and made that money. Meaning that for them at least they think they need it. Equally, that they’ve not given it away as yet means they think they need it. And as always with utility it’s what the person doing the utility maximisation thinks that matters, not an onlooker.

This being even more of a problem when we’re talking about entrepreneurs and the control of a company. The difference between owning a plurality of the stock and thus having control and not doing so is rather large.

Still, that’s not where the real criticism is. Rather, it’s on a moral basis.

Wealth is, on a practical basis, the ability to command resources. To be able to determine the labour of others that is. A pile of cash means just that. $7.25 buys an hour of labour. $7 million nearly a million hours of labour.

OK.

So, the statement here is really that other people should not have the ability to determine the labour of millions and tens of millions of others. Well, OK, don’t say I agree with that idea but still, where does that take us?

Because the argument is that it should be taxed. So that those doing the taxing then get to deploy those funds. So that those determining where the tax funds get spent get to determine the labour of millions and tens of millions of others.

Or, as we more properly should put it, Richard Murphy wants to tax Philip Green so that Richard Murphy gets to tell us all what to do instead of Philip Green doing so. Millions of lives should be directed by a bad tempered egotist or by a schmutter salesman made good?

Toughie there really. The one major difference being that we voluntarily associate with Mr. Green thereby voluntarily make him rich and the tax system means that’s not quite the case with Murphy. But being able to deploy the labour of millions of others is just as rich, either way around.

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Esteban
Esteban
1 year ago

On occasion I’ve heard similar comments, “they don’t need that much money” from people who are very comfortably upper middle class – large, beautiful home (empty nesters, just BTW), pool with a waterfall and hot tub, two upscale cars, golf club membership, etc. To which I reply – do you have any more than you need? Should the government take away every dollar you have above what you need?

Spike
Spike
1 year ago
Reply to  Esteban

The invitation to discuss whether a third party “needs” something he has got is nothing more than an invitation to exercise one’s covetousness in preparation for seizing property with no better reason.

Spike
Spike
1 year ago

You’re right, discussing limiting X’s ability to control resources, to the extent it exceeds his “need,” doesn’t mean that the resources become uncontrolled (that the people he’d employ can now do whatever they want, for pay), but that someone else controls them.

Likewise proclaiming rights of the fetus, rights of the snail darter, rights of the planetary Pachamama, do not give those things rights, as they are unable to exercise rights; they transfer some people’s rights to other people.

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
1 year ago
Reply to  Spike

Not quite. Things that cannot exercise rights still have rights. Are you seriously arguing new born children have no rights? People in a coma have no rights? We can do as we like with them?

And comparing what some (frankly anybody able to understand biology) think is a living human to a snail darter is absurd.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
1 year ago
Reply to  Phoenix44

Pete Singer points out that, if you accept the arguments for abortion on demand, you should logically accept infanticide up to ~18 months.

Tim the Coder
Tim the Coder
1 year ago

Does Mr Murphy really NEED both kidneys?
One would suffice. So tax him the other.
I suspect he would suddenly change his view on taxing ‘excess’ property & assets.

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim the Coder

Do we really need Mr Murphy? It feels like we have one to many.

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