‘Tis almost the season to be jolly and generous with your wallet. To show your gratitude for how well 2019 has been, you comb the lists of non-profit organizations that feed starving children in Ethiopia, save the whales and snails, and educate the next generation on the Austrian School of Economics. Will the U.S. Treasury be on your naughty or nice list for donations? Despite all the talk of giving more to the federal government, Americans voluntarily gave a grand total of $775,000. It turns out that not many want to give Washington any more fruits of their labor. What could possibly be the reason?
Take My Money, Please!
Earlier this year, 20 billionaires sent a letter to the federal government asking that their taxes be raised and the revenues spent on public goods. The document was signed by George Soros, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and heiress Abigail Disney. Other billionaires, such as Bill Gates, did not offer their John Hancock, but they are open to some sort of wealth tax.
The Associated Press recently interviewed several ultra-wealthy individuals who demanded that the federal government tax them more. Molly Munger, daughter of billionaire investor Charlie Munger, complained that vacation homes in Newport Beach, CA, sat empty for most of the year. She is among other billionaires and millionaires who want the government to raise their taxes.
Ian Simmons, head of the investment fund Blue Haven Initiative, told the newswire that he is ready to pay more. Retired real estate developer Robert Bowditch also believes that giving more to Republican and Democratic lawmakers and bureaucrats will help “support public goods and services, such as public education, roads and bridges, and clean air.”
Several Democrats are catering to these requests. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have made a wealth-confiscation policy a key plank in their platforms. Other presidential candidates are open to a wealth tax, but not Andrew Yang, who correctly pointed out that other nations have tried unsuccessfully to put a penalty on wealth. Whenever jurisdictions introduced a wealth tax, revenues gradually declined, prompting governments to scrap the levy altogether because it was too much of a hassle to manage.
Even if the government never passes this legislation, why can’t Munger, Simmons, Bowditch, and other affluent Americans just write a check?
Write a Check
The Munger family is worth approximately $2 billion. The median value of a home in Newport Beach is about $2.5 million. If you do the math, the Mungers could purchase hundreds of homes currently listed on the internet and donate these properties to families in need or turn them into centers for underserved kids. Molly Munger may lose sleep at night over the empty houses in Newport Beach, but she could take matters into her own hands and acquire a dozen of these places and give them away.
The Simmons family became rich through the mail-order retailer Montgomery Ward and the Hyatt hotel, businesses, they say, that were greatly assisted by the US Postal Service (USPS) and the government’s construction of the interstate highway system. Why not write a check to the Federal Highway Administration? Or pay off the USPS’ enormous debt burdens?
Bowditch would prefer to reduce his charitable contributions so the government can have more of his fortune to spend on public education and bridges. Once again, he could stage a huge ceremony and present gift bags of cash to the many government schools in dire need.
Ultimately, these affluent families want the government to raise their taxes to cover the cost of public spending. Since the state is notorious for being slow, these individuals should consider pooling their resources and collectively turn checks over to any level of government on many different occasions.
Interestingly enough, a CNBC host asked Abigail Disney this question, and she dismissed it by saying her “measly few hundred million dollars will do nothing.” This is the same kind of reasoning employed by climate change zealots who demand that you change your lifestyle but refuse to do anything to adjust their own carbon footprint, like shutting off the air conditioner in the middle of summer or ditching the gasoline-fueled car. There are always excuses to justify their failure to act.
Eat the Rich
Perhaps it is because they are perceived as a hated segment of society. Maybe they feel guilty for being so wealthy. Whatever the case, billionaires are doing their best to appear woke, virtue signaling to the world how much they want their wealth to be taken by politicians to spend on bureaucratic waste. But billionaires are not willing to volunteer their largesse to the state; they want lawmakers to take it from their cold dead hands.
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