Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Howard Marks on Taxing the Rich

I like Howard Mark's writing because it cuts the rhetoric and attempts to look at an issue from multiple angles. In a recent memo, he frets about the increasing use "the rich should pay their fair share" in political circles. "Fairness" may really be a eye-of-the-beholder thing, he argues quite convincingly.

As as example he says about tax deductions:
The drafters called them deductions: provisions that reduce the net income on which  taxes are levied. Critics call them loopholes, suggesting there’s something underhanded  about those provisions. And politicians use the laudatory-sounding term tax incentives to describe tax code provisions that reduce tax revenues in order to encourage certain behavior. It all depends on your point of view.
And later:
As I’ve written before, I was very impressed when, as a young man, I heard an interesting explanation for America’s economic progress relative to Great Britain: “When the worker in Britain sees the boss drive out of the factory in his Rolls Royce, he says ‘I’d like to put a bomb under that car.’ When the worker in America sees the boss drive out of the factory in his Cadillac, he says ‘I’d like to have a car like that someday.’ ”
In recent weeks, much has been made of nation-wide polls which say something like "75% of the people support increasing taxes on the rich" etc. or something similar.

That is such a stupid question to ask/poll.

Sure, as rational self-interested individuals, why wouldn't they? It is a classic case of tyranny of the majority. Despite the superficial difference, it is not completely unlike popular support for banning the hijab in France (which much of the media saw as somewhat bigoted).

PS: I am a card-carrying member of the 99% :). I think the memo is a great read, simply for the nuanced views it presents dispassionately.

No comments: