Friday, January 25, 2019

That's the way to do it

For too long US politics has been in the hands of plutocrats and their servants, resulting in ever-declining tax-rates, soaring inequality, and a government incapable of meeting its citizens expectations. Now, US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has proposed a solution: a direct wealth tax:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will propose a new annual “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets, according to an economist advising her on the plan, as Democratic leaders vie for increasingly aggressive solutions to the nation’s soaring wealth inequality.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion, according to Saez.

The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a ten-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households, Saez said.

And to prevent avoidance, there will also be a one-off wealth tax on those worth more than $50 million who renounce their US citizenship.

Of course, there's an election to win first. But there mere fact that Warren is suggesting this will help shift the political conversation and help focus it on ways to properly control the ultra-rich. And that, as the right has taught us, is how you win politics in the long term.

And of course, it inspires people outside the US as well. Because it raises an obvious question: why aren't we doing this here (with appropriately lower thresholds)? It seems like an excellent way to reduce inequality and re-fund government.