Meaning of a 70% Income Tax Rate

Several Democrats have proposed a top income tax rate of 70% on incomes over $10 million.

Samuel Hammond argues that it is NOT about the optimal tax rate, soaking the rich, the rate in the past. It is a symbolic attack on the legitimacy of wealth accumulation itself.

Its goal is not about tax-fairness or raising revenue efficiently (which it fails at on both counts). Its goal is to popularize a strict egalitarian view of wealth accumulation as prima facie evidence of personal corruption. If that view catches on, it would represent a major setback in the public’s understanding of the differences, both normative and economic, between productively acquired wealth and rent seeking.

The Democratic Socialist’s economic model is Scandinavia. But we in the U.S. have our own economic model, and culture based on our own history. We are more individualist.

With the countercultural rebellions of the 1960s and 70s, followed by the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, the left and right eventually reverted back to America’s historically more individualistic ethos of self-expression and entrepreneurship.

In Scandinavia, the dominant conformist zeitgeist is called the Law of Jante, a reference to a fictional Danish town that enforces being ordinary in every possible way. “Tall poppy syndrome” is perhaps the closest concept in American vernacular, although it doesn’t do the oppressiveness of Scandinavia’s egalitarian milieu justice. Excessive ambition is frowned upon while non-conformists are treated with suspicion, as illustrated by the expression, “You are not to think you’re better than us.”

The cost of this strict egalitarianism. In Scandinavia, the rich stay rich and everybody else is stuck. They’re economic opportunity is a snapshot frozen in time. Nobody can rise up because they are taxed too much to save anything that can be invested.

In short, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus on soaking the small number of Americans who make more than $10 million in a year has earned her socialist bona fides while ironically sparing — if not threatening to entrench — the closest thing America has an to emerging nobility. That’s not radical. Far from it. It’s conformism to the most mundane progressive politics imaginable.

We are Americans. They are trying to force 300+ million people to behave the way they deem worthy. No. Move to your utopia. Leave us alone. These people are tyrants and must be stopped.

Hammond’s piece here.

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