by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
With metronomic regularity, some well-motivated billionaire announces that he wishes the government would increase his taxes. The latest entrant is Eli Broad. Writing in the New York Times, Broad praises private philanthropy and the capitalist system “that’s yielded some of the greatest gains in prosperity and innovation in human history.” Still, he concludes, “I simply believe it’s time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else.”
Some pundits might mock Broad, pointing out that nothing is preventing him from sending bigger checks to Uncle Sam than current law requires. Or they might protest that the super-rich can well afford to say “raise my taxes” — they’d never feel it — whereas the comfortable but not quite rich might get caught in the net.
But Broad doesn’t deserve disdain. In the first place, he’s a great philanthropist who is a walking Horatio Alger story. …
… Whoa. If something hasn’t worked, maybe the answer is not more of the same except bigger.
Broad is worried about things that top most progressive lists — income inequality, the supposedly shrinking middle class, the climate crisis, and “skyrocketing” housing and health-care costs (though not the $22 trillion national debt). There’s plenty of doubt that the federal government is competent to address these problems with the proceeds of a wealth tax. …
… Rather than calling for the federal government to do more income redistribution, it might be useful to have states and localities examine what works in other jurisdictions. California might learn a thing or two about keeping housing costs down from Texas, and everyone can learn useful lessons from Utah’s social-welfare programs.