Monday, January 21, 2008

Why We Should Not Tax the Rich

Here is John Edwards' "employer" on taxes. The last line, as they say, is "priceless." Griffin is an exception, since he is not interested in money, but in creating wealth for the community and the sheer joy of working. Also, he would work less if faced with high taxes, but only as a matter of principle (or is it principal?).

"Kenneth C. Griffin, who received more than $1 billion last year as chairman of a hedge fund, the Citadel Investment Group, declared: "The money is a byproduct of a passionate endeavor." Mr. Griffin, 38, argued that those who focus on the money -- and there is always a get-rich crowd -- "soon discover that wealth is not a particularly satisfying outcome." His own team at Citadel, he said, "loves the problems they work on and the challenges inherent to their business." Mr. Griffin maintained that he has created wealth not just for himself but for many others. "We have helped to create real social value in the U.S. economy," he said. "We have invested money in countless companies over the years and they have helped countless people"."

"The income distribution has to stand," Mr. Griffin said, adding that by trying to alter it with a more progressive income tax, "you end up in problematic circumstances. In the current world, there will be people who will move from one tax area to another. I am proud to be an American. But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard."

Uchitelle, Louis. "The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age." New York Times (15 July).


Anonymous said...

But Ken, I thought you did it for the love of the game, your "passionate endeavor." What BS this boy knows how to fling around. He's certainly free to earn his living, and if his investors want to give him that big a share it is their business. I assume it's all on the up and up. That has nothing to do with him Ken then paying a tax amount that would reflect his good fortune at being able to live in a country that affords him the opportunity to do his business and the security of its laws and political structure. That's what taxation is all about, supporting the government that makes it all possible for you to do what it is you do.

Anonymous said...

I believe Griffin when he says that. I believe, I believe, I believe. Does he have any bridges for sale? I have a sudden hankering to buy me a bridge.

Anonymous said...

"But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard."

What do bosses do? Well, exploit their workers to generate more profits, move plants overseas to undermine bargaining power at home, try to squeeze as much money out of consumers as possible...

May be it would be a good idea for these people to take a rest and not "work" as hard? :)

An Anarchist FAQ

Shag from Brookline said...

How much more heavy lifting would Griffin have to do to make the extra bucks that might be subject to higher progressive taxation? There are only 24 hours in a day. Will Griffin stop doing heavy lifting before lunch rather than just after to avoid excessive taxation? This isn't the days of yesteryear when the top rates reached 90%. Assuming a top rate of 45%, the balance of 55% after tax can look pretty good, especially if there is really no heavy lifting involved in making the extra big bucks.

Martin Langeland said...

Wonder if Griffin also supports people not paying his fees?
Or does he think he earned those, as opposed to those lazy government bureaucrats,fireman and soldiers.
"Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society." Oliver Wendell Holmes (possibly an inexact -- as to wording, not thought -- quote.)

Anonymous said...

i guess i disagree with commentators. i do believe he and other rich people add and create social value, so taxing them would destroy that. These are called 'griffen goods', with backwardsliding, 3rd order utility functions with complex valued coefficients. (Obviously griffen goods disprove Al 'not too' Sharpton's 'keep it real' mantra, and others who follow the EPR-kissinger 'realist' party line).

we admire them, and they enrich our quality of life. Maybe you all have never had the opportunity to read People magazine, being in, say, Somalia (maybe its on google). (This is called 'positional utility'. Of course, 'haters' gain utility from 'hate', envy, jealosy, and other sins, but they derive these antisocial values from the same positions as those who derive pro-social, family, positive values from admiration of what we term "the Divine", as seen in People magazine. Perhaps they have a 'bad seed' or woke up on the wrong side of the bed, due to faulty feng-shui consultants. Sue?

The People and the people are in different castes, ordained by god (the ultrafilter created by Godel, to manufacture consent and other 'griffin goods') as shown by the existence of griffin goods. (A. N. Whitehead first found them on Crusoe's island.) Slavery IS freedom, but some never get 'free to choose' it. Or, maybe, its diff.x strokes for diff.y folks.)

It can also be pointed out that given the kinds of business the rich commonly do, these lead to various apocoplypses and destructions, which later form the basis of popular and enjoyable movies. Ever seen Ghandi? Without the British empire, who would have seen Russel Means play a marquee injun, sitting biill in the wild west hiphop video, or the lone ranger? Marx termed this the 'dialectic' or 'slavery is freedom' principle, in which sugar turns into vinegar (or biofuel), vinegar into acid, acid into pain, and then pain into a video blockbuster whose stars are featured in People magazine.

Of course, other can enjoy 'giffin goods' by looking at the situation like fattening up a turkey. The cramps have this song about 'the natives are getting restless' (kenya?) and Jean Luc Godard had this nice movie called 'weekend' about traffic congestion, and how it led to fun cookouts among the 'radical chic'.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I saw these comments by Griffin a couple of months ago, and was astonished by how clearly he could speak when he was talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Anonymous said...

Pretty ridiculous, but I was wondering if Michael or a commenter had any thoughts on this part:

"We have helped to create real social value in the U.S. economy"

Anonymous said...

The choice of the term "social value" without specific reference to what those created values might be tells us all we need to know about the validity of the claim. It's all in the definitions that might be applied. For Griffin the creation of social value might be measured in the number of private clubs he may belong to or the number of alternative living places that he may own. Of course the value of those social aspects of life is exclusively his. Like most absurdly wealthy people is unable to distinguish between what is good for the whole of a community and what is of value to himself.

Anonymous said...

I can think of two questions.

a) Would it be really be unpossible to find someone as competent willing to work just as hard for half as much?

b) What would Stalin Do?

Mrfairness4all said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrfairness4all said...

I find it debatable marginally that he would work less on principle. I do believe people expect compensation for their efforts even if that compensation isn't needed financially, it is at least needed on an ego self importance level, so maybe he has a point there. If people do not see the value in what you do it is often difficult to continue doing it. The rewards of taxation are social programs that elevate the community as a whole. The only problem with having a large proportion of society contribute 0% of their earnings is that those people do not see how these programs that they use elevate them to a unified society (class warfare). If it is the goal to unify society with these social programs then is it a disservice to deny the poor the right to participate as much as the rich do to the creation and funding of these programs so that they can truly say they belong and rightfully so?