Tag Archive: Class Warfare


“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

Upon announcement of his induction into the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday night, the sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium gave Nike founder and über-UO donor Phil Knight a standing ovation.

The 99 percent were cheering, rather than jeering, a member of the despised 1 percent.

Class warfare and jealously were shelved for at least for a nanosecond or two.

And what ever happened to “Occupy Eugene,” let alone “Occupy Wall Street?”

The reason for the outpouring of appreciation was obvious: Never in recorded history have so many UO students, athletes and alums owed so much to one solitary man. He has given more than $300 million (and counting) to the school’s Athletic Department, including $100 million to the UO Athletics Legacy Fund.

unclephil

Academically, he contributed the lion’s share to the $27 million renovation to the UO Knight Library. The name of his late father and 1932 UO Law grad, William W. Knight, adorns the 68,000-square foot University of Oregon law school.

Knight’s generosity is not limited to the University of Oregon as he gave $105 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA. He has also directed $100 million to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) for the Knight Cancer Institute, and most recently $125 million more to establish the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute.

In a society where we make so much of those who are “giving back,” why are we so insistent on “taxing the rich” (e.g., Phil Knight) to further grow the size, scope and gravitational pull of the federal government?

Is it fair to impose punitive taxation on successful entrepreneurs in which nothing is given, who have a great idea, and have the temerity to “Just Do It?” If one subscribes to the notion that the best anti-poverty program on the planet is a job, then $24 billion Nike is responsible for “stimulating” 44,000 direct jobs and oodles of indirect jobs. Investors have poured $43 billion into Nike’s market value, and the company has nearly $4 billion of cash on hand for future job-creating investments.

Back to our basic public policy question: Is it a swell idea to punitively raise the tax rate of successful entrepreneurs to make the government grander while retarding their investment and philanthropy endeavors? And will these additional revenues be used for deficit reduction or for more spending and borrowing (e.g. Solyndra II)?

If we agree to hike the highest federal income rate from 36 percent-to-39 percent, coupled with increasing the capital gains rate from 15 percent-to-30 percent, will these increases be sufficient to pacify the insatiable class warriors?

Consider that the top federal income tax rate was 70 percent under the “malaise” reign of James Earl Carter from 1977 to 1981. That rate sounds high and unreasonable (at least to some) until you consider the effective 98 percent rate under UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1970s. This level of confiscatory taxation even prompted the Beatles to write “Taxman,” and for the Rolling Stones to flee to France and record “Exile on Main Street.” See Almost DailyBrett https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

Some will scoff at 98 percent taxation, but it happened in the industrialized country that shares a special class-warfare kinship with the United States. What is mind-boggling is the notion of one can earn $1 million and then only taking home about $70,000? Think of it this way, one could toil from January 1 to December 15 to pay the government, before starting to work for herself or himself.

Call me silly or naïve, but I humbly contend that we should be incentivizing entrepreneurs, such as Uncle Phil, to invest and donate and along the way create jobs. The static-scoring Keynesiologists will want me to stuff my dynamic-scoring “Laffer Curve” cocktail napkin where the sun doesn’t shine. They will demand that I and other like-minded individuals to simply accept the “inevitability” of “community” tax increases that foster more “investing” (e.g., code for spending and borrowing).

Wonder how many of those who were standing and applauding “Uncle Phil” for his contributions to his favorite university are deep down inside hoping our government gives it to him, and gives it to him good? I’m afraid that more than half of the stadium supports this exact policy.

As they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

http://www.registerguard.com/web/sports/28782173-41/oregon-hall-knight-fame-american.html.csp

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/phil-knight-net-worth/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Knight

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Library

http://www.kgw.com/news/Phil–Penny-Knight-donate-125M-to-OHSU-170087396.html

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/608673-nikes-big-gift-phil-knight-and-the-university-of-oregon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

exile

The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_in_Exile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_on_Main_St.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

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