The Daily DeX 07/05/2019: Billionaire Philanthropy As Class Warfare

+“George Soros Leads Chorus of Wealthy Calling For A New Wealth Tax” | Forbes | David Dawkins | Forbes | David Dawkins

Soros and the other signatories claim that a tax of 2 cents on the dollar on assets over $50 million, and an additional tax of 1 cent on the dollar on assets over $1 billion, could generate $3 trillion in tax revenue over ten years.

The letter, released today, addressed to “2020 Presidential Candidates” claims “America has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more. A wealth tax could help address the climate crisis, improve the economy, improve health outcomes, fairly create opportunity, and strengthen our democratic freedoms. Instituting a wealth tax is in the interest of our republic.”

Presented as a “call to action,” the letter addresses the growing gap between the world’s wealthiest and argues that millions of middle-income Americans already pay a wealth tax in the form of property taxes on their primary form of wealth—their home.

“The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.”

Although described as nonpartisan and not an “endorsement of any presidential candidate,” the letter names Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Representative Beto O’Rourke, as supportive of the wealth tax idea. The letter does not mention Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders in the past has argued for an estate tax plan with rates up to 77% on inheritances of more than $3.5 million. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that income above $10 million may need to be taxed up to 70%.

–>$3 trillion over ten years isn’t much, but this is how “giving back” by the staggeringly wealthy is done now. It’s not taken from them as it is from the rest of us. Rather, in the age of digital goods and intellectual property, we allow them to keep more than they should, then genuflect before them as benevolence produces a fraction what obligation would. This is the mechanism by which philanthropy can be used as a weapon of class warfare. However, the warfare isn’t against wage labor; it’s against our beliefs about extreme wealth, particularly whether it’s a symptom of a deeper malady and not a triumph of late-capitalism. (The billionaire as rock star or real-world Tony Stark has the same absurd effect.) As Anand Giridharadas (Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World) puts it: “What if the extraordinary elite helping is part of how we maintain the extraordinary elite hoarding? What if the helping is the lubricant in the engine of the hoarding? What if the giving back is the wingman of the taking? What if changing the world is a brilliant way of making sure that the public doesn’t get so angry that it changes your world?” Several decades of extraordinary innovation have had a hand in creating extraordinary inequality. In the wake of this development, George Soros, the Kochs, and others like them now get to call the shots on how much tax they should pay. This twisted privilege is the result of the political influence of wealth and years of tax cuts and relaxed tax laws allowing money to move across borders with little to no friction. All of the money sitting in havens, shelters, and shell corporations that should’ve been taxed amounts to much more than one or two cents on the dollar.

More articles of interest:

+“Anand Giridharadas on Elite Do-Gooding: ‘Many of My Friends Are Drunk on Dangerous BS’” | The Guardian | Lucia Graves

+“Trump Is Planning Another Tax Cut for the 1%—Without Congress’s Approval” | Vanity Fair | Bess Levin

+‌“Here Are 5 Ways the Super-Rich Manage to Pay Lower Taxes” | CNBC | Michelle Fox  


Where are your hammers for these nails?

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Image Source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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