Ungrateful billionaires

mr_burns_evilIn a shocking development, the billionaires hobnobbing at Davos do not like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s tax ideas, no not one little bit!

“No, I am not supportive of that, and I don’t think it would help the growth of the U.S. economy,” [Michael Dell] said in response to questions from The Washington Post.

When Dell was asked to explain why he thinks that, he said, “Name a country where that’s worked — ever.”

Co-panelist and MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson jumped in to offer an answer: “the United States.”

Lesson: being a billionaire computer maker doesn’t make you good at history or economics! 70% marginal tax rates aren’t even close to be the highest in US history. The main difference is that when we had those tax rates, the economy was growing at a healthy pace… and so were middle class incomes.

Keith Block of Salesforce isn’t much brighter on this count:

At the panel on technology and globalization, the co-chief executive of Salesforce, Keith Block, said his company would adhere to any new tax policy put in place by foreign governments, such as those proposed by some members of the European Union. But he emphasized that providing education and access to technologies would be a better long-term solution than increasing taxes. “It’s an easy fix I think, for many people to say, ‘Well, let’s just tax,’ ” he said.

I think his ideas about education and technology access are great ideas. As are investments in infrastructure, research, and public health. All of these things contribute to a country’s economic health! They’re great!

Also, they cost money, which is where the tax part comes in. How does Mr. Block think these things get done? He and Michael Dell to get together and learn some history and discovery that – get this – governments make these investments with tax revenue.

I don’t begrudge these people their billions. I really don’t. I do wish they would remember that they were able to undertake their business ventures and innovation and all of that because they were in countries with tech infrastructure, roads, educated workers, functioning legal systems that meant they could make enforceable contracts, national security and police that kept them from getting blown up or robbed or murdered, and all those other nice things. Paid for by taxes. 

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