Instead of soaking the rich, create some riches
This article is abstracted from the book
“The Technology Imperative: What Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Really Means in the 21st Century”. See reference at end of article.
Imagine a social event in which the cocktail hour races off into a sort of rhetorical overdrive. Each conversational cluster splits 50/50 on nearly every topic. Guests circle the room, beverages in hand and politics in mind. Every chat group becomes an ideological scrum. Half the room chants: “Wealthy people rake in an obscene percentage of this country’s personal income! Call in the IRS! Soak ’em!” The other half chants: “Are you crazy? This is America! If you make it, you shouldn’t have to give it up! Otherwise, why bother achieving success?”
That imaginary back-and-forth can be heard in the real world every day, from co-workers sharing lunch to bellowing broadcasters with listeners coast to coast. Interesting as the debate may be, it is irrelevant because it is the wrong debate. What matters most is not how we should define the word “fair.” The meaningful question is: Which share-the-wealth mechanism and what formula will yield the best outcome for all of us, now and as far into the future as the mind’s-eye can see.
The fairness debate does interest me a great deal but it also frustrates me. When a demagogue gets into a strident harangue about “the One Percent” it angers me. Not because I have quite a different idea about what is fair (I do), but because unchecked demagoguery on this subject will, in my opinion, destroy our economy on its way to destroying our society. If my opinion is correct we are in very deep trouble, because demagoguery about “the One Percent” is an extremely popular commodity these days.
Let me share a plan—or rather an idea, the outline of a plan—I believe would leap beyond the fairness debate, a scrum on which neither side will win many converts anytime soon. I think such a plan if set in motion would reinforce—to everyone’s satisfaction—some basic truths about the source of our nation’s wealth. It would do so quickly. It would not be a mere demonstration program. It would create new wealth It would directly address the perceived “One Percent problem” and would be widely viewed as . . . fair. I believe a strong majority of Americans would support this plan. And just one year following the first April 15 after the plan became law, I think public approval would be even stronger.