A ‘Wealth Tax’ is a Morally Evil Policy Proposition

The late Dr. Charles Krauthammer wrote in 2002 that to “understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid.  Liberals think conservatives are evil.”  But many of today’s leftis’ policy propositions are not only practically stupid, but morally evil.

Consider that Bill Gates has come under fire for appearing skeptical of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new “wealth tax.”  For example, Anand Giridharadas, editor at large of TIME magazine, recently tweeted:


@BillGates, the great philanthropist of our age, is so attached to his own wealth that he refuses to rule out voting to re-elect a white nationalist demagogue over Elizabeth Warren.

It should be noted that Giridharadas is making a moral argument here, not a practical one.  By not supporting Elizabeth Warren’s policy proposal to confiscate an arbitrary percentage of his wealth for the workings of government, Gates is not only advancing “white nationalism,” but he’s somehow morally suspect as an actual “philanthropist.” 

Contrary to Anand Giridharadas’ claim, however, what is truly “astonishing” is how anyone can make an argument suggesting that Bill Gates is not philanthropic with a straight face.  “Gates is among a group of billionaire philanthropists who have said that they would give away at least half of their wealth to charities under terms of the Giving Pledge,” writes Mark Decambre of Market Watch.

Note the words employed in that sentence.  “Philanthropists.” “Give.” “Charities.” “Pledge.”  Each and every one of them requires an individual action which is voluntary.  Bill Gates is willing to give half his wealth to vetted charities of his choosing, and I don’t think that anyone could argue that such a pledge is not morally admirable.  What he seems less willing to do is give the government license to forcibly confiscate his property at arbitrary and ever-changing levels, as it deems appropriate ongoing, to serve the purposes of government.

Gates made a statement that he didn’t think that Elizabeth Warren would like to speak with people like him on the matter, prompting Warren to say that she’d love to sit down with him about her “wealth tax” proposal.  “I promise, it won’t be $100 billion,” of his estimated $107 billion net worth, she tweeted.

Bernie Sanders, the millionaire politician from Vermont who once honeymooned in the Soviet Union and espoused the economic virtues of governmental “bread lines,” apparently felt that Warren isn’t going far enough.  “Say Bill Gates was taxed $100 billion,” Sanders tweeted.  “We could end homelessness and provide safe drinking water to everyone in this country.”  

So why shouldn’t the government steal $100 billion of his wealth?  That seems to be the argument.

It’s easy to point out the practical failings in such arguments as Bernie’s. 

Bill Gates claims he’s paid over $10 billion in taxes, and I have no reason to believe that’s untrue.  If the government seizes $100 billion of his wealth and spends it today, then that’s it.  He’d be a turnip with little else to bleed for such grand political schemes.  But Bill Gates has earned his wealth through decades of unprecedentedly successful entrepreneurship and investment, and he’s proven that he’s far better with his own money than the government has been with ours.

If you need proof of the silliness in Bernie’s claim, consider that, this year alone, the federal government will confiscate from its citizens roughly 37 times the amount that Bernie Sanders argues could cure homelessness forever.  And lack of sufficient revenue isn’t stopping additional spending beyond receipts, mind you.  That same government will spend roughly 47 times that amount this year.  So, we’re incurring debt of $1 trillion in an annual budget deficit, or ten times what Sanders says we need to cure homelessness and provide safe water to everyone.  Why wasn’t America’s problem with homelessness and unclean water cured long ago, if simply having the government throw a hundred billion of other people’s dollars at any given problem is some kind of social and fiscal cure-all that no one’s thought of before?

Of course, any sane person knows that what Sanders is arguing is nonsense, in a practical sense.  Any sane person knows that the federal government doesn’t have an income problem, but a resource allocation and a spending problem.  But it’s compelling for many that he’s speaking to, nonetheless, because the practicality of his “solution” isn’t the point. 

He’s making a moral argument that Bill Gates shouldn’t have as much money as he does.  That’s the real problem that he’s looking to “solve,” and he’s proven that.  The stated goal of his aggressive plan, called “The Tax on Extreme Wealth,” is literally to “cut the wealth of billionaires in half over fifteen years.”  “I don’t think billionaires should exist,” Bernie says.

That is the true ideological impulse driving socialism, and it should be the most glaring problem with it.  The obvious goal is to tear down successful individuals, not to empower the less-successful masses. 

It’s not that socialist leaders like Bernie Sanders, a lifelong rabble-rouser who has never created any jobs or wealth without taxpayer funding, don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when it comes to the broad economics or practical outcomes of these Marxist policy propositions like the “wealth tax.”  It’s that, in their immoral pride and lust for power, they stoke envy among the populace, nurturing and courting a growing gaggle of envious grumblers who, in turn, seek only to outsource their chosen moral depravity to government enforcers who may “equalize” economic outcomes by robbing others of their property.

Unmistakably, there is an eternal moral difference between Bill Gates pledging his own wealth to provide for the public good via charitable institutions, and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders telling you that they will confiscate his wealth in order to provide “charity” for others via government redistribution.  The moral argument as to why one is morally righteous and the other is morally evil really couldn’t be simpler, and we never have to look at a single number to understand why.

Consider, for example, a circumstance where I donate my car to a fellow less fortunate than me.  I am charitably pledging my property to benefit someone else.  That is a culturally understood to be a positive moral decision that I was free to make.  It is that freedom to choose which makes such a decision morally “good.” 

If, on the other hand, someone takes my car against my will so that he might use it as he sees fit, it is equally well-understood to be a criminal act.  It doesn’t matter if that someone steals my car so that someone else might use it, because it would not change the fact that my property was stolen from me.  It’s still theft.  And if every single one of my neighbors decides that the neighborhood association should confiscate my car so that it can be used by others in the neighborhood, I would thankfully enjoy the legal protection of my property.  However, even if that association were able to exercise its power by stealing my car so that others might use it, the moral dynamic of the circumstance remains unchanged, because the element of my freedom to choose what to do with my property is never considered.

Okay.  Save a few outliers who may harbor some peculiar notions about morality, we should all be able to agree that all of that is true.  So, here’s the question.  What if that car is one of fifty, a hundred, or a thousand cars that I own?  In what way does that change the fundamental moral dynamic involved?  And if it does, in your estimation, then why?  Should I not be afforded the same rights to property that another might have who owns less property than I?

I should be so protected, in a culture where genuine morality is intact and individual rights are equally applied.  So should Bill Gates, and any other American citizen.  However popular the unconstitutional notion of a “wealth tax” may become, it will never be anything more or less than a morally depraved and evil proposition which can only serve to erode Americans’ property rights.

Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com