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Raise Their Taxes Too!

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:


You report that, in an open letter sent to candidates in the 2020 presidential campaign, 18 very rich Americans asked that their taxes be raised (“‘Tax us more’: Group of ultrarich urge 2020 presidential candidates for a wealth tax,” June 25).

This request is either pointless or deceptive.

If the 18 signatories really are asking only that taxes be raised (as they put it) “on us” – that is, on those signatories only – the letter is pointless given that nothing prevents any of them from writing checks to the government of whatever size they choose. But if – despite their “on us,” and as is actually the case – the plea is that taxes be raised on the many very rich people who did not sign the letter, then the letter is deceptive. It is, in this case, actually a plea for government to raise taxes not just on the small number of signatories but also on a much larger number of non-signatories. Yet what’s headline-making in that?!

Compared to the impression of self-sacrificing generosity conveyed by the headline “Tax us more,” far less newsworthy is a plea for government to raise taxes on other people to compel them to join in paying for one’s pet causes.

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