“…not a cent more”

George Will wrote an excellent piece refuting Elizabeth Warren’s collectivist logic.

Mark Perry posted about it on his blog Carpe Diem.

Responding to Mark Perry’s post and on this debate about how much the wealthy “owe to society“, mike k writes:

They owe exactly what everyone else owes and not a cent more.

The reason I like mike k’s statement is that it attacks the underlying assumption that a substantial portion of Bill Gates’ success is somehow due to ‘society’.

If this society assumption were true, then most of us would wind up to be as wealthy as Bill Gates, since we’re all in the same society.

But we don’t, so there must be explanations, other than society, that substantially account for his wealth.

Also missing from the assumption that the super wealthy ‘owe it to society’ is an accounting of what the wealthy has already contributed to society.

We ignore that his wealth resulted from what he has already contributed to society.

He earned his wealth by creating things that others in society found useful and valuable — enough so that they were willing to trade away some of their own hard-earned productivity to gain additional productivity and value from Gates’ products.

Creating products valued by the rest of us in society seems like enough payback to society already to me.

It’s only by ignoring the value that he has already added to society through his products that we arrive at the clumsy conclusion that Gates owes some part of his wealth to society (in the form of taxes — charity is also acceptable).

This notion of having the wealthy payback society twice (first when they create value and second when they receive the benefits of creating value) seems a lot like charging the guy who stopped to help you fix a flat tire on the side of a highway for using your tools and taking up your time while he fixed it.

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1 thought on ““…not a cent more”

  1. Couldn’t agree more Seth. This argument only sounds good on the surface, but when you dig deeper and stop to consider the ‘logic’ behind it, it falls apart. Unfortunately most people don’t take the time to evaluate the statements and are easily duped into supporting them.

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