Fulfilling A Duty to Expose Pompous Displays of Ignorance

by Don Boudreaux on August 26, 2014

in Hubris and humility, Other People's Money, Reality Is Not Optional, Taxes

Here’s a letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

Sen. Brown:

You call on consumers to boycott Burger King for taking steps to keep its shareholders’ taxes as low as possible by moving its headquarters to Canada - that is, for responding predictably to incentives that you yourself, as a legislator, helped to create.

First, you err in asserting that Burger King will “abandon” its American customers.  A company headquartered in Canada is no more likely to “abandon” paying customers in America than is a company headquartered in Kansas likely to abandon paying customers in Arkansas.  Indeed, with fewer of its profits siphoned off to fund the boondoggles that you and other members of the political class are fond of supporting, Burger King’s attention to, and ability to serve, its American customers will only improve.

More fundamentally, because you believe that people have a duty to operate businesses in ways that generate tax revenue for government regardless of the effects that such operations have on their owners’ net wealth, can we conclude, because you haven’t resigned from the senate to launch and operate full-time your own maximal tax-paying business, that you are derelict in your duty?  In fact, it’s fair to ask how many businesses have you founded that earn profits for the government to tax?  Because you’ve been in politics your entire adult life, I’m pretty sure that the answer is none - which means that you’ve created far less wealth for the government to confiscate than have the professional investors and business executives who you publicly and so pompously smear.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030​

Cato’s Dan Ikenson has more on tax inversions.

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