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OFF-TOPIC Should billionaires be taxed out of existence?

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Xeon

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SamRussell

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Piketty is evil. He wants to punish people for either being productive, or not being unfortunate, both of which are crazy reasons to punish people.

Yaron Brook co-wrote a book called "Equal is Unfair", which is a great rebuttal of Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century"
 

YanC

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Typical French way of thinking: "I'm poor because you're rich and you stole my money". Wonder why some consider we are a communist country...

Taxes and social costs already account for almost 50% of the GDP. That's madness. Sweden reached 70% 20 years ago and guess what? Went bankrupt.
 

Kybalion

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On one hand, there should be a mechanism in place to make sure that the population doesn't go out of hand... It would be beneficial for everyone, and I believe that billionaires are already investing in such mechanisms.

At least from what I gather from this article is that Pickety is making an argument that just because the money isn't redistributed for public infrastructure (which has enabled billionaires to raise up) they should be taxed to ''give back to society''.

In this case, I guess he defines economic growth as more public property? More roads? More buildings? More money for the poor?

He still attacks these problems from a very outdated perspective. Humans (including me) are very psychologically flawed. Our problems are not really material, they are mostly mental.

I think that enforcement of man-made obligations will always be bypassed. If you are smart enough to become a billionare no socialist academic will ever force you to give up your wealth. At the end of the day he is just making dangerous ''feel good sounds'' to appeal to have-nots, who share his beliefs.

If anyone has read Atlas Shrugged, it will be easy to draw paralels with some of the socialist socialites from the book.

I think that giving should come from a place of empathy and shouldn't be forced. When we will truly feel connected it will seem ridiculous to not share.

Right now we are very primitive species (in comparison to what we could be in an utopic scenario).

To sum it up - if the motivation comes from outside sources and not from genuine intention to help others, then every solution will be another bandage on an infected wound.
 

Pink Sheep

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The french economy isnt great from what ive seen, so i understand his frustration.

I am i believer of tax relief per job made. That way rich people are encouraged to hire more.
If a billionaire isnt contributing i dont mind them being taxed to death. Its not like they need the wealth for anything if its just hoarding. But its important to let business people grow.
 

SamRussell

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The french economy isnt great from what ive seen, so i understand his frustration.

I am i believer of tax relief per job made. That way rich people are encouraged to hire more.
If a billionaire isnt contributing i dont mind them being taxed to death. Its not like they need the wealth for anything if its just hoarding. But its important to let business people grow.

Why should one man be able to decide what another man can keep, hoarding or not?
 

RazorCut

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Why should one man be able to decide what another man can keep, hoarding or not?

He can't, it's purely academic. The French have had a bee in their bonnet since before the Revolution. If I were to go after anyone it would be to monopolies that use their dominant position to profiteer. Especially in the field of medicine.

For the most part billionaires made their money providing what the people wanted on a large scale (that includes hedge fund managers). Note I didn't say provided value because that is subjective in as what is considered value to one could be the opposite to another.

Also opinion changes over time. A company producing one use carrier bags would have been commended once upon a time, now they are pariahs due to the damage their product does to the environment. Of course it always did damage but the more successful their product the more damage it did and so the more obvious it became.
 

SamRussell

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He can't, it's purely academic. The French have had a bee in their bonnet since before the Revolution. If I were to go after anyone it would be to monopolies that use their dominant position to profiteer. Especially in the field of medicine.

For the most part billionaires made their money providing what the people wanted on a large scale (that includes hedge fund managers). Note I didn't say provided value because that is subjective in as what is considered value to one could be the opposite to another.

Also opinion changes over time. A company producing one use carrier bags would have been commended once upon a time, now they are pariahs due to the damage their product does to the environment. Of course it always did damage but the more successful their product the more damage it did and so the more obvious it became.

Nearly entirely agree - but I would let monopolies alone... even if they are 'profiteering'.

Truly profiteering is only possible with government intervention.

In a free market, if a company increases prices, it makes competition more attractive. If they increase prices by a crazy amount, then they invite competition into the field.

Say a healthcare company increases prices by 10x, and they are the only healthcare company at the point in time. What you will see, is competition entering the market like mad. Prices would quickly come back down again.

In fact, price gouging is only really possible with help from the government.

If someone increased prices by XYZ, competition entering the field can only be prevented with the help of the government, e.g. "licencing", or a market distortion creating an artificial barrier to entry, such as taxes (hitting the bottom line twice, once from the taxes and a second time with the admin required).

If a monopoly has been created by lowering prices or creating a more efficient process, or a unique product, then the monopoly position has been earned, until someone comes up with a better method.
 

RazorCut

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Truly profiteering is only possible with government intervention.

In a free market, if a company increases prices, it makes competition more attractive. If they increase prices by a crazy amount, then they invite competition into the field.

Say a healthcare company increases prices by 10x, and they are the only healthcare company at the point in time. What you will see, is competition entering the market like mad. Prices would quickly come back down again.

In fact, price gouging is only really possible with help from the government.

If someone increased prices by XYZ, competition entering the field can only be prevented with the help of the government, e.g. "licencing", or a market distortion creating an artificial barrier to entry, such as taxes (hitting the bottom line twice, once from the taxes and a second time with the admin required).

If a monopoly has been created by lowering prices or creating a more efficient process, or a unique product, then the monopoly position has been earned, until someone comes up with a better method.

Agreed in a free market economy. However I was thinking more along the lines of patents on medicines. Then using that protection to charge exorbitant prices for these products. Way above the costs of research, production and sensible returns.

It's one of the reasons our health service is on its knees having pharmaceutical companies siphon off vast sums of money to line their coffers. But then I have an issue with profiteering from health care (as opposed to incorporating in a fair margin).
 

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Lol, I can't stand Piketty.
 

SamRussell

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Agreed in a free market economy. However I was thinking more along the lines of patents on medicines. Then using that protection to charge exorbitant prices for these products. Way above the costs of research, production and sensible returns.

It's one of the reasons our health service is on its knees having pharmaceutical companies siphon off vast sums of money to line their coffers. But then I have an issue with profiteering from health care (as opposed to incorporating in a fair margin).

I don't see a problem with that.

If you spend 5 years of your life developing a new drug, then why should anyone be able to tell you what you can and can't do with it?

If you charge an exorbitant price, then no-one will buy it. If you charge a high price and people are prepared to pay it... I don't see a problem. If it really is that great a drug, private charities would probably subsidise it for special cases like they do for other healthcare expenses
 

Kevin88660

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That is why we non-native speakers speak and write in English, not French.
 

daniel_m

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I mostly agree with everyone on this thread, but I feel like the top 10 or 15 guys in the Bezos stratosphere (50B+) should have some sort of obligation to do more - not necessarily tax wise.

Don't sit here and talk about buying Porsche's or whatnot; these guys literally can't spend their money in 20 lifetimes even if they live every day like a degenerate college student who just won the lottery.

I wouldn't want the feds to take their money, cause that won't help with anything. but I do think that they should contribute directly more, somehow. I know they already are, but I just personally feel like at a certain point, it gets kind of ridiculous.
 

broswoodwork

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I mostly agree with everyone on this thread, but I feel like the top 10 or 15 guys in the Bezos stratosphere (50B+) should have some sort of obligation to do more - not necessarily tax wise.

Don't sit here and talk about buying Porsche's or whatnot; these guys literally can't spend their money in 20 lifetimes even if they live every day like a degenerate college student who just won the lottery.

I wouldn't want the feds to take their money, cause that won't help with anything. but I do think that they should contribute directly more, somehow. I know they already are, but I just personally feel like at a certain point, it gets kind of ridiculous.
Here's the problem though...

Anything they do to contribute more, at least in ways that actually positively impact our lives, is only going to increase their wealth. Then people will only be more angry.
 

RazorCut

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I don't see a problem with that.

If you spend 5 years of your life developing a new drug, then why should anyone be able to tell you what you can and can't do with it?

The problem is you price it out of the hands of those that need it and people suffer and die. All down to unnecessary greed.

Also the guy spending 5 years of his life developing it is most likely an employee who would be much happier if the drug was available to all at a sensible price but that’s not his call as it’s way beyond his pay grade as he is a tiny cog in a multi-billion dollar corporation.

If you charge an exorbitant price, then no-one will buy it. If you charge a high price and people are prepared to pay it... I don't see a problem. If it really is that great a drug, private charities would probably subsidise it for special cases like they do for other healthcare expenses

So you don’t see a problem with only ‘special cases’ having access to life saving drugs? Well let’s hope no one you love is ever deemed less than special then shall we?
 

Dominik_M

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The problem is you price it out of the hands of those that need it and people suffer and die. All down to unnecessary greed.

Also the guy spending 5 years of his life developing it is most likely an employee who would be much happier if the drug was available to all at a sensible price but that’s not his call as it’s way beyond his pay grade as he is a tiny cog in a multi-billion dollar corporation.



So you don’t see a problem with only ‘special cases’ having access to life saving drugs? Well let’s hope no one you love is ever deemed less than special then shall we?
Well, I have to be honest: I am not sure what's the best here. Propably something inbetween the two extremes.
Just as an example: Health care in Germany is mandatory. Not being in possession of a health insurance plan is a felony.
The result is that health care is cheap as f**k. You'll pay somewhere around 100-300€/mo for a family of 4.
Pretty sure the medical care is almost as good as in the U.S.
But you can feel the results if you need an appointment e.g. at a special surgeon. You're going to wait somewhere around 1-5 months for an appointment.
 

Bourbons

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Isnt that essentially what every tax is, someone is decision that you should give up your money in that situation?

Inheritance tax, income tax, council tax, usually based on if you have or have not and to what degree
 

meridian_blue

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Let's do a small though experiment here. Let's say Pikety is 100% right, and that we should tax every billionaire out of existence. Better yet, instead of taxing them on their business income let's round up all the greedy billionaires in the United States, throw them in jail, and confiscate all their assets - their planes, their fancy cars, their cash, their gold, their real estate, their companies, everything.

If we were somehow able to liquidate everything they owned (unlikely) we would collect a whopping $2.7 trillion (see List of Americans by net worth - Wikipedia).

Not bad, right? Until you realize how much our government really spends...

Our most recent federal budget is set for $4.75 trillion this year alone, and the federal debt is over $22 trillion. And that doesn't even include all the state, county, and municipal debt we hold either!

At the current rate we're running, all the money we confiscated would last us a little shy of 7 months (2.7/4.75 * 12). After that, we'd be back to broke. Except now, all the jobs are gone, the economy has imploded, and we're such an economic crisis that the Great Depression would look like a joke.

No matter how you slice and dice the money, there simply are not enough rich people out there to fund the types of policies we're proposing. Taxing the rich is no quick fix.

Sure you can argue about moral imperatives and the like (I too would love to see Jeff Bezos give more of his money to charity) but the only way we're going to get ourselves out of the problems we've created for ourselves is by innovating. And the best way to do that is by creating new businesses and designing new products to fix the problems we have - and thereby creating wealth for everyone in the process.
 

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Politics is not made for single persons. Its made for majorities. If you are in their loot schematic , than you are!
Either you are a biker with a loud bike or a millionaire with the 5 th Porsche!
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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I don't see a problem with that.

If you spend 5 years of your life developing a new drug, then why should anyone be able to tell you what you can and can't do with it?

If you charge an exorbitant price, then no-one will buy it. If you charge a high price and people are prepared to pay it... I don't see a problem. If it really is that great a drug, private charities would probably subsidise it for special cases like they do for other healthcare expenses
The problem is when a pharma company holds the only patent to the only drug for that disease/condition.

They charge out the a$$ because they know daddy government will back them up.

Meanwhile the patients are suffering because they can’t afford the ridiculous prices, and private insurance won’t cover it because there’s no profit.
 
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Rabby

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The idea that billionaires are evil is lame zero-sum thinking. I don't think they hurt the economy at all; on the contrary, their activities are organizing more people and resources than anyone else. How many people depend on one billionaire for their livlihood? How many people's quality of life is improved by one billionaire's products?

That said. There is something to the IP arguments in this thread. Maybe look at this a different way...

Most billionaires are this rich because governments grant them monopoly rights - over a drug, a technology, a trademark, etc.

That being the case, isn't it strange to ask governments to solve the "problem," if you see it as such, through taxation?

It's like if I was starting houses on fire, and you asked me to fix the problem by pouring water on the houses after I start them on fire. One person or entity shouldn't be both the cause and solution to your perceived problem; it's illogical.

Either the granting of monopoly rights for innovation is ok, or it isn't, or it should be improved. That's where the conversation should be. The idea of "fixing" the innovation-reward system through taxation is ludicrous. It's asking the arsonist to douse fires.
 

Tourmaline

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I hope France tries. Do they think billionaires are that stupid or that their country is that special?

It will result in a mass exodus of their most productive people.
 

SamRussell

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I should prelude the replies to this with the following disclaimer - I'm discussing billionaires and private / intellectual property rights (the real discussion here) under the premise of a capitalist economy - which is to say, an economy with 0 government intervention.

America is not a capitalist country. It used to be. American healthcare is not "private", it's a disastrous hybrid of government mixed with private industry. If I was cynical, I would argue it's a marketing move by power grabbing politicians - "look how the private healthcare system is failing. Let us fix that for you". It's like stabbing someone in the leg and then telling them how dangerous life can be, so you will take care of them.

Anyway,

tl;dr cutting edge technology is always going to expensive, and that applies to healthcare too.

The problem is you price it out of the hands of those that need it and people suffer and die. All down to unnecessary greed.

A metaphysical part of being human, is that we will experience suffering, and we will die (side note, this isn't to take a nihilistic outlook on life, it's just a fact of reality).

There is no getting around this. Sometimes... bad things happen and there is no real reason for it.

We can all (I hope) have empathy for others. But there is a line between empathy and responsibility, and your argument crosses this line.

This argument has no real basis and is succesfull by its ability to induce guilt.

Worse, is that complying with this line of morality, can only lead to complete self destruction or permanent guilt. If you allowed the needs of others to be a blank cheque on your life... where are you going to end up? Either working yourself to death or penniless in a gutter.

"Unnecessary greed"
Which means what? "Someone made something and set a price for it that some other people accepted". Unnecessary greed is a meaningless phrase.

Also the guy spending 5 years of his life developing it is most likely an employee who would be much happier if the drug was available to all at a sensible price but that’s not his call as it’s way beyond his pay grade as he is a tiny cog in a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Or maybe he is happier knowing that his talents can be put to work to help some people because he has the backing of multi-billion dollar corporation. Or maybe he doesn't give a f*** either way and he does the job so he can bang hookers all weekend.

This isn't an argument, its random conjecture.

So you don’t see a problem with only ‘special cases’ having access to life saving drugs? Well let’s hope no one you love is ever deemed less than special then shall we?

You're distorting what I said. I didn't say only special cases should have access to life saving drugs. I said that those that develop them should be able to choose the price. Just like you choose the price for your products.

And just like your products, the market responds.

You don't give away your products just because people need them... do you?

You're projecting one moral code on one set of people, and another for yourself.

Again, need does not entitle anyone to anything, let alone the work of another.

You've made an argument that attempts to guilt / shame me, rather than exposing a potential flaw in my principles / ideas.

What would I do if someone I loved needed an expensive operation / drug? You can betcha a$$ that myself and everyone else around them would band together and try and figure it out.


Sure you can argue about moral imperatives and the like (I too would love to see Jeff Bezos give more of his money to charity) but the only way we're going to get ourselves out of the problems we've created for ourselves is by innovating. And the best way to do that is by creating new businesses and designing new products to fix the problems we have - and thereby creating wealth for everyone in the process.

"A man is only good if he sacrifices"

So after revolutionising an industry and creating 1000s of jobs... you will only deem him to be a good man if he gives away what he has earned?

How much should be give away to be a "good man"? 10%? 30%? Enough to have to change his lifestyle for something slightly worse?

Do you want to see other become better off... or do you want to see him become worse off... ?

The problem is when a pharma company holds the only patent to the only drug for that disease/condition.

They charge out the a$$ because they know daddy government will back them up.

Meanwhile the patients are suffering because they can’t afford the ridiculous prices, and private insurance won’t cover it because there’s no profit.

Protecting intellectual property is one of the few things a government actually should be doing. There will always be suffering, there is nothing you or I can do to change that, and holding innovators hostage to an arbitrary set of standards certainly won't help.
 

RazorCut

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This argument has no real basis and is succesfull by its ability to induce guilt.

I would say my argument has a solid basis and if your argument had any morality there would be no guilt associated with it. (And yes this whole discussion is based on moral standpoints; what is right, principled, proper etc. so you cannot remove morality from the equation).

Anyway, we can bat this back and forth 'till the cows come home, we are never going to agree, so lets move on.

See this as the end of my participation. No hard feelings.
 

SamRussell

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I would say my argument has a solid basis and if your argument had any morality there would be no guilt associated with it. (And yes this whole discussion is based on moral standpoints; what is right, principled, proper etc. so you cannot remove morality from the equation).

Anyway, we can bat this back and forth 'till the cows come home, we are never going to agree, so lets move on.

See this as the end of my participation. No hard feelings.

None taken :)
 

Joost11

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of course they should tax the hell out of billionaires, but before that we need a world government to tax the hell out of all the biggest companies.

No small man or company should be taxed unless they make more than 200k a year imo. Give some oportunities to individuals and small business so we still get to have a little bit of originality in this world before every place has turned into a f*cking McDonalds.
 

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