A letter published in the New Jersey Star-Ledger on 9/21/20 under the heading Millionaires Tax, Rebate have Kennedy-like Vibe makes explicit the horrid consequences of the war on economic inequality. In support of NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed “millionaires tax”, which increases by 2% the income tax rate on incomes over $1 million, to fund $500 handouts to lower/middle class families defined as “households in the state with income below $150,000 and at least one child,” Robert R. Salman wrote:
In keeping with . . . [what] John F. Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address] . . ., "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich," Gov. Phil Murphy and Democrat legislative leaders have agreed to provide New Jersey with a true millionaires tax.
This new tax will also attack the scourge of income inequality by providing relief to certain middle- and lower- income families.
Taking one person’s money at gunpoint, even if giving the loot to another, is theft. Income inequality is a natural and just consequence of an economically and politically free society. In a civil society, theft, not personal achievement, is the scourge. Salman inverts this principle of civil society, claiming that personal achievement is the scourge, and theft is virtuous. Salman’s moral perversity is stunning.
But this is economic egalitarianism. Cut through all of the posturing against income inequality, and you find that no argument has ever been advanced to explain why it is wrong or unjust or unfair or harmful for people to achieve at different levels.
Salman clearly demonstrates that “fixing” the non-problem of income inequality begins with redistributive theft, and in the end no one’s income is safe from it. Today it’s an assault on incomes over $1 million. No amount of rationalization, like “it only affects a tiny minority who can easily afford the extra tax,” can change the fact that there is nothing to prevent the $1 million threshold from being ratcheted down. The principle involved, like all principles, is open-ended. Under the principle that income inequality is a “scourge,” everyone has an automatic claim on anyone with higher income, and can legitimately use the government’s legal, i.e., gun-backed, apparatus to seize the more affluents’ wealth in the name of income equality. The flip side is that no one is safe as long as there are others who make less, and who in turn can claim a portion of his wealth via armed government agents as “hired guns.”
It starts with the “top 0.1%.” But there is nothing to prevent the 0.1% from morphing into the 1%, then the 10%, then the 25%, and so on and so on. There is no logical limit to the downward pull, a downward pull that ultimately must, by definition, end in universal poverty, as every communist state has demonstrated. And as communist states like Soviet Russia, Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Castro’s Cuba amply demonstrate, what begins with theft often ends with murder.
How this redistributive tax will “save the few who are rich,” or any of us who achieve more than the next guy, defies logic. There is no moral or economic justification for any government program to coercively “remedy” income inequality, because there is nothing inherently wrong with income inequality--not when free markets and free trade are the source of the inequality. Greed and/or envy—cutting down the more successful because they are successful—is the real motive of anyone who ever preached against “the scourge of income inequality.”
Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality—by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook