Bill Gross Joins the Billionaires-for-Tax-Hikes Club

Add billionaire Bill Gross, of Pimco, to the list of rich

men who want to raise taxes on the rich. The first five paragraphs of his August

newsletter are required reading for anybody who tries to delude themselves

that the present plutocracy is good for the country. Some excerpts:

Wealth has always gravitated towards those that take risk with other people’s

money but especially so when taxes are low. The rich are different –

but they are not necessarily society’s paragons. It is in fact society’s

wind and its current willingness to nurture the rich that fills their sails…

What pretense to assert, as did Kenneth Griffin, recipient last year of more

than $1 billion in compensation as manager of the Citadel Investment Group,

that "the (current) income distribution has to stand. If the tax became

too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard."

Right. In the same breath he tells, Louis Uchitelle of The New York Times

that the get-rich crowd "soon discover that wealth is not a particularly

satisfying outcome."… Far better to admit, as has Warren Buffett, that

the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans average nearly 15% while those of

their salaried and therefore less incented assistants just outside their offices

are nearly twice that…

When the fruits of society’s labor become maldistributed, when the rich

get richer and the middle and lower classes struggle to keep their heads above

water as is clearly the case today, then the system ultimately breaks down;

boats do not rise equally with the tide; the center cannot hold…

Now is the time, long overdue in fact, to admit that for the rich, for the

mega-rich of this country, that enough is never enough, and it is therefore

incumbent upon government to rectify today’s imbalances. "The way

our society equalizes incomes" argues ex-American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall,

"is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way."

Well said, Bob.

Gross also has some harsh words for those who would console themselves with

their "charitable donations" to cultural institutions:

When millions of people are dying from AIDS and malaria in Africa, it is

hard to justify the umpteenth society gala held for the benefit of a performing

arts center or an art museum. A thirty million dollar gift for a concert hall

is not philanthropy, it is a Napoleonic coronation.

I wonder what Tyler Cowen makes of that. (The multitalented

Cowen is the author

of Good and Plenty: The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding.)

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