Let’s 'tax the poor,' says former Mayor Bloomberg

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of America's richest billionaires, now wants to heavily tax poor people.

His fondness for taxes – on cigarettes and other things – premised on the idea that such taxes will keep the poor from smoking or doing other things deemed bad for their health, would be a "good thing," as he just said at a conference.  Regressive taxes hit rich and poor equally, but only those in poverty feel the effect.

Like most self-righteous leftist Progressives, Michael Bloomberg is paternalistically proposing what economists call "Pigovian" taxes, designed not only to enrich government, but also to impose social engineering.

He wants to use taxes as back-door regulation to impose his desired social policies, as proposed by English economist Arthur Pigou, who died in 1959.

If poor people are dying from the health effects of smoking or of drinking sugary soda pop, as Bloomberg believes, then they will be able to buy and consume far less of these harmful products if a heavy tax is added to the price of soda or tobacco.

Those poor who divert money from paying rent or buying new shoes for their children will continue to buy such things, but government will have lots more money to treat their health problems.

"Two things in life ... are absolutely certain. One is death, the other is tax.  So you use one to defer the other," said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund before which Bloomberg was discussing his plans to tax the poor.

"That's correct.  That is exactly right.  Well said," responded Bloomberg to the globalist audience, who showered him with applause.  Progressives want the future to be a socialist paradise controlled not by commoners with a right to vote and as individuals to choose what each wants, but by a superior paternalistic elite that decides what is best for everyone and imposes it on people for their own good.

As mayor of New York City, Bloomberg had no doubt that his peculiar values were to be imposed.  Buying a "Big Gulp" soda pop was prohibited.  Cigarettes were taxed so heavily that a criminal underground emerged to provide those hooked on nicotine with a cheaper smoking "fix," and police were diverted from fighting violent crime to enforce this lucrative tax.  Salt shakers were yanked from restaurant tables.

Such "Pigovian" taxes were, of course, regressive; they hurt the poor economically far more than the well to do.  But as "revenue" measures, such taxes could be put into law far more easily than legislation that would require Mayor Bloomberg to prove that his biases were scientifically valid as "sin" taxes.  Progressives not long ago were dogmatically telling us that dietary fat is hazardous and should be replaced by sugary carbohydrates; they were wrong then and could be wrong now.

Pigovian taxes have already been used to restrict our use of carbon, CFCs, cigarettes, dietary fat, high-fructose corn syrup, soda pop, tobacco, alcohol, and much else.  Pigovian subsidies are behind tax breaks in so-called "enterprise zones" in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods; trouble is, to sustain an enterprise zone, government needs to make the zones around it less than optimally friendly to business and enterprise.  And Mayor Bloomberg, a notorious gun-grabber, is more than eager to use sky-high Pigovian taxes to limit the sale and ownership of firearms and ammunition.

Would high Pigovian taxes be a "good thing" for the health of the poor?  Taxes are a major cause of stress, anxiety, and fear.  So, too, is poverty, which such taxes would greatly increase.  Such stresses cause heart attacks, cancer, and a thousand other potentially deadly health risks.

Michael Bloomberg and his authoritarian taxes aimed at the poor are hazardous to the health of millions of Americans.  It is frightening to think Mayor Bloomberg and his arrogant fellow Progressives believe they are superior to, and entitled to impose their lethal values onto, the rest of us.

Lowell Ponte is a veteran think-tank futurist and author or co-author of eight books.  His latest, co-authored with Craig R. Smith, is Money, Morality & The Machine, available free and postpaid by calling 800-630-1492.  Lowell can be reached for interviews by email at radioright@aol.com.

Image credit: Rubenstein via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.