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Techno-fundamentalism is the idea that every problem can be solved by technological advance. It is connected with Randism (myth of entrepreneur as the New "Creative" Class) That is, the belief that technology drives history. In its optimistic version, the right kind of technology will drive history in the right direction, in the negative version, it drives it in the wrong direction. In both, it’s all powerful, sidelining other actors and modes of acting.
The exclusive focus on technology when discussing complex social transformations invariably veers towards techno-fundamentalism, just that technology is not good or evil, but ambiguous, driving society into multiple directions at once.
...American techno-fundamentalism really profits from teaming latterday technological gadgets and gimmicks, with their so-called and so-fundamental "world vision". Confusing Windows with Wonder, and Apple with America, the US fundies equate that slender prowess with residual ability to destroy any enemy they invented or discovered, anywhere.
The agenda, for American fundies is unchanged from the Cold War: the world needs domination - by America. US tech prowess, shown by those beautiful little ikons on a Apple gadget screen which inferior Asians have dared to copy, can and will give the US the upper hand in the final battle of Right against Wrong, that is always coming. War is good. Rejoice.
Review of Siva Vaidhyanathan. The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry).
University of California Press
The literature on Google has exploded in the last few years. To the extend of my overview, much of it falls into two categories. The first treats Google as the paradigmatic Internet company, active across a large number of domains. Its tone is either celebratory – lauding innovation and creative destruction 1 – or alarmist focusing on privacy and surveillance issues. The latter is more popular in in continental Europe than in the English speaking world. 2 The advantage of this approach is its clear focus: a company. Yet, the resulting books tend to be fairly shallow, for two reasons. First, the speed of change that is currently being produced by Google make it very difficult to keep up, particularly in the relative slow medium of a book. Second, Google, like many high-tech companies, is extremely secretive about itself. For researchers, it presents a black box. The inner workings have to be inferred from the relationship between input and output. Given the complexity, flexibility and personalization of these inner workings, this is an exceedingly hard task. Of course, no black box is ever entirely black so these books tend to highlight what they perceive as extraordinary access to which they were privileged, but still, the box remains very dark in most places. The second set of books treats Google as a cultural principle: accessing unstructured databases as the dominant mode of navigating the (informational) world. 3 In general, this approach leads more measured analysis, mainly because the principle itself can be understood without proprietary knowledge and the rate of change from one mode of organizing information to another is less rapid. This makes it possible to develop a deeper historical understanding, bring to bear a more nuanced set of cultural theories, and focus on a more diverse set of players and factors. The downside of this approach is its less stringent focus. The organization of information is such a basal dimension of culture that its effects are ubiquitous and interact with a myriad of other dynamics. All this makes it impossible to pin down a single factor without becoming reductionist in the way media theory can sometimes be.
Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Googlization of Everything sits somewhere in the middle, it’s firmly focused on Google, other search engines or tech companies only make cameo appearances, and treats it as general principle effecting society at large. This approach is a mixed blessing. One the one hand, it manages to combine focus (Google) with scope (Googlization), but it also encounters the problem of the black box and is frequently reductionist, by relating complex historical change to a single (f)actor, Google.
But first things first. For Vaidhyanathan Googlization means the Google way of doing things – simple interfaces yielding ranked results, offered for free as a way to deliver advertisement – is becoming increasingly the de facto standard in accessing information, marginalizing other approaches even if they might be superior in terms of quality. Thus Google is becoming a monopolist both in the business sense, ruling many markets without real competitors, as well as in the cultural sense, by unifying practices and expectations according along its own standards. Google rose to this position within less than a decade by “figur[ing] out how to manage abundance while every other media company in the world was trying to manufacture scarcity” (p.11). It did so by relying heavily on algorithms capable of keeping up with the exponential growth of the digital universe while offering extreme ease-of-use: type in a term or two and get a screen with a tidy list of 10 results. Since its beginning as a university project and then as a company promising not to be evil, Google has profited from what Vaidhyanathan calls “trust bias”. Since we assume that Google works well and works in our interests, we are usually happy with the first few results offered. All the more since these are usually good enough to satisfy our immediate, short term needs. Much of the book is devoted to examining the validity of the trust bias. And, he concludes, such extraordinary trust is less and less warranted. This for two sets of reasons. First, Google (the company) is changing its character. And, second, Googlization (the process) has aggregated effects that are socially problematic.
The main effects of the changes in the company, Vaidhyanathan concludes, is that “where once Google specialized in delivering information to satiate curiosity, it now does so to facilitate consumption…. Where once users were guided to the unfamiliar, now targeted and customized searches are the default, thus driving us to the familiar and comfortable” (pp.201-02). The existing problems of the page-rank algorithms – such as favoring popularity over quality – are compounded by the growing number of tweaks to those algorithms which are done in part to “improve quality” – something that is nearly impossible to assess, since we do not have a comparison – but also to accommodate political and commercial power. One example given in the book concerns the status of Arunachal Pradesh, a disputed territory lying between India and China. When searching from within India, Google Maps shows the territory as belonging to India. When searching from within in China, Google Maps shows it as part of China. Rather than showing the area as disputed, Google simply reproduces the government line to avoid friction in important markets. A more recent example of such tweaking is that Google lowers a site’s ranking based on the number of copyright complaints issued against it. This is clearly a move to placate media companies which are increasingly seen as partners for delivering packaged content to consumers. In the assessment of the changes in Google as a company Vaidhyanathan is on solid ground, making most out of the focus that following the first perspective offers. While the argument might not be overly surprising for those who follow these issues closely and critically, it’s a very important argument to make, since most people still see Google primarily as an unbiased search engine whose search results are largely unaffected by the commercial orientation of the company. And Vaidhyanathan is capable of making it in terms that resonate with larger audiences.
Given the strict commercial orientation of the company – and the tension this generates with its mission to organize the world’s information – Vaidhyanathan’s warnings about surrendering too much power to the new media monopoly is also very convincing. He is particularly critical of Google’s attempts to take over functions that used to be provided by public, or at least public-minded, institutions such as universities. In the Google Book project he, rightly in my view, sees an attempt to create a monopoly in the provision of digital books, turning libraries into mere access interfaces and printing stations for a proprietary back-end. This would not only create significant dependencies, but it would also destroy much of the specialized knowledge created by libraries over the course of their existence, since scanning and meta-data quality is much worse in Google than in the library’s own efforts. But, of course, libraries cannot match Google’s scale nor its cavalier treatment of copyright. The project has stalled at the moment, but the ambition has not.
However, here the focus in Google starts to become limiting. Vaidhyanathan offers very little as to why Google is able to invade these domains, except noting “public failure”, that is, public institutions and regulation not only failing to offer alternatives, but even directly supporting this transformation. Here the analysis would have benefited from more comprehensive perspective on privatization and Silicon Valley’s own contribution to the libertarian “Zeitgeist” that views public institutions as antiquated (see, for example, Paulina Borsook’s Cyberselfish). This would have implicated Google (and the Silicon Valley culture it represents) in much more troublesome ways than simply “capitalizing on a thirty year tradition of public failure” (p.40).
Even more limiting is the focus on Google in the second set of issues raised in this book. That is the aggregated effects of the Google’s quest to deliver personalized information. Here the argument resonates with Eli Pariser’s concerns about the filter bubble. Rather than helping to create a new, global public sphere, Google, through personalization, is fragmenting the cultural landscape, locking everyone into his or her own parochial, localized personal niche. Thus, Google is a force in creating what he calls “local culture movements”, or specialized cultural niches. This can heighten rather than diffuse social tensions, because “it fractures a sense of common knowledge or common priorities rather than enhances it” (p.139). A fracturing of the cultural landscape, a narrowing of the “main stream” and an expansion of cultural diversity can certainly be observed in certain areas. But in relating this primarily to Google, Vaidhyanathan commits the “sin” that he accuses Google of: techno-fundamentalism. That is, the belief that technology drives history. In its optimistic version, the right kind of technology will drive history in the right direction, in the negative version, it drives it in the wrong direction. In both, it’s all powerful, sidelining other actors and modes of acting. Now, Vaidhyanathan is very careful, again rightly in my view, not to turn Google into a force for of evil, but the exclusive focus on a technology company when discussing complex social transformations invariably veers towards techno-fundamentalism, just that technology is not good or evil, but ambiguous, driving society into multiple directions at once.
In a way, techno-fundamentalism is the avoidance of politics by translating social problems into technical solutions. Vaidhyanathan does his own avoidance of politics, but by translating social issues into moral ones. He repeatedly frames Google’s actions as “sins” and speaks of its “hubris”. But since he tries to avoid being too reductionist, Google’s sins are also our sins, since we are so willing to take up its offers and follow its flawed techno-fundamentalist vision. Here, a more cultural, political or economic analysis is sorely missing. Consequently, his solution, offered at the end of the book, is a non-starter. A Human Knowledge Project, where public-minded people and institutions come together in open deliberation to create an alternative that’s in the public interest. Habermas 2.0, one could say. While this did not work when Europe tried to develop an altnerative to Google called quero, there is no indication that this would work in the US context better. However, there are, in my view, alternatives to Googlization, but order to be able to think about them, we would need talk about economics (how can we provision services that are not based on advertisement and hence of profilin? For example through a commons-based approach) or architecture (how can we build and infrastructure that is less centralized? For example, through a distributed elements in the back-end infrastructure.) For such debates, the book offers very little.Perhaps that’s an unfair charge, since it’s not necessarily the book’s intention to do so. All in all, Vaidhyanathan’s book is still important, because since it transports a number of critical perspectives into mainstream discourse and it does so in a language that is acceptable to the mainstream.
Dec 07, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
November 26, 2019
Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato wants liberals to talk less about the redistribution of wealth and more about its creation. Politicians around the world are listening.
By Katy Lederer
Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside -- in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability -- the air conditioning was on full blast.
For a room full of experts discussing the world's most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress -- suit, sari, head scarf -- people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, she wondered aloud, "if we don't rebel in the everyday?"
Dr. Mazzucato, an economist based at University College London, is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. While many of her colleagues have been scolding capitalism lately, she has been reimagining its basic premises. Where does growth come from? What is the source of innovation? How can the state and private sector work together to create the dynamic economies we want? She asks questions about capitalism we long ago stopped asking. Her answers might rise to the most difficult challenges of our time.
In two books of modern political economic theory -- "The Entrepreneurial State" (2013) and "The Value of Everything" (2018) -- Dr. Mazzucato argues against the long-accepted binary of an agile private sector and a lumbering, inefficient state. Citing markets and technologies like the internet, the iPhone and clean energy -- all of which were funded at crucial stages by public dollars -- she says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation. "Personally, I think the left is losing around the world," she said in an interview, "because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth."
Her message has appealed to an array of American politicians. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and a presidential contender, has incorporated Dr. Mazzucato's thinking into several policy rollouts, including one that would use "federal R & D to create domestic jobs and sustainable investments in the future" and another that would authorize the government to receive a return on its investments in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Mazzucato has also consulted with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and her team on the ways a more active industrial policy might catalyze a Green New Deal.
Even Republicans have found something to like. In May, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida credited Dr. Mazzucato's work several times in "American Investment in the 21st Century," his proposal to jump-start economic growth. "We need to build an economy that can see past the pressure to understand value-creation in narrow and short-run financial terms," he wrote in the introduction, "and instead envision a future worth investing in for the long-term."
Formally, the United Nations event in September was a meeting of the leadership council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or S.D.S.N. It's a body of about 90 experts who advise on topics like gender equality, poverty and global warming. Most of the attendees had specific technical expertise -- Dr. Mazzucato greeted a contact at one point with, "You're the ocean guy!" -- but she offers something both broad and scarce: a compelling new story about how to create a desirable future.
'Investor of first resort'
Originally from Italy -- her family left when she was 5 -- Dr. Mazzucato is the daughter of a Princeton nuclear physicist and a stay-at-home mother who couldn't speak English when she moved to the United States. She got her Ph.D. in 1999 from the New School for Social Research and began working on "The Entrepreneurial State" after the 2008 financial crisis. Governments across Europe began to institute austerity policies in the name of fostering innovation -- a rationale she found not only dubious but economically destructive.
"There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies."
Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development.
In important ways, Dr. Mazzucato's work resembles that of a literary critic or rhetorician as much as an economist. She has written of waging what the historian Tony Judt called a "discursive battle," and scrutinizes descriptive terms -- words like "fix" or "spend" as opposed to "create" and "invest" -- that have been used to undermine the state's appeal as a dynamic economic actor. "If we continue to depict the state as only a facilitator and administrator, and tell it to stop dreaming," she writes, "in the end that is what we get."
As a charismatic figure in a contentious field that does not generate many stars -- she was recently profiled in Wired magazine's United Kingdom edition -- Dr. Mazzucato has her critics. She is a regular guest on nightly news shows in Britain, where she is pitted against proponents of Brexit or skeptics of a market-savvy state.
Alberto Mingardi, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute and director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, a free-market think tank, has repeatedly criticized Dr. Mazzucato for, in his view, cherry-picking her case studies, underestimating economic trade-offs and defining industrial policy too broadly. In January, in an academic piece written with one of his Cato colleagues, Terence Kealey, he called her "the world's greatest exponent today of public prodigality."
Her ideas, though, are finding a receptive audience around the world. In the United Kingdom, Dr. Mazzucato's work has influenced Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, and Theresa May, a former Prime Minister, and she has counseled the Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon on designing and putting in place a national investment bank. She also advises government entities in Germany, South Africa and elsewhere. "In getting my hands dirty," she said, "I learn and I bring it back to the theory."
The 'Mission Muse'
During a break at the United Nations gathering, Dr. Mazzucato escaped the air conditioning to confer with two colleagues in Italian on a patio. Tall, with a muscular physique, she wore a brightly colored glass necklace that has become something of a trademark on the economics circuit. Having traveled to five countries in eight days, she was fighting off a cough.
"In theory, I'm the 'Mission Muse,'" she joked, lapsing into English. Her signature reference is to the original mission to the moon -- a state-spurred technological revolution consisting of hundreds of individual feeder projects, many of them collaborations between the public and private sectors. Some were successes, some failures, but the sum of them contributed to economic growth and explosive innovation.
Dr. Mazzucato's platform is more complex -- and for some, controversial -- than simply encouraging government investment, however. She has written that governments and state-backed investment entities should "socialize both the risks and rewards." She has suggested the state obtain a return on public investments through royalties or equity stakes, or by including conditions on reinvestment -- for example, a mandate to limit share buybacks.
Emphasizing to policymakers not only the importance of investment, but also the direction of that investment -- "What are we investing in?" she often asks -- Dr. Mazzucato has influenced the way American politicians speak about the state's potential as an economic engine. In her vision, governments would do what so many traditional economists have long told them to avoid: create and shape new markets, embrace uncertainty and take big risks.
Inside the conference, the news was uniformly bleak. Pavel Kabat, the chief scientist of the World Meteorological Organization, lamented the breaking of global temperature records and said that countries would have to triple their current Paris-accord commitments by 2030 to have any hope of staying below a critical warming threshold. A panel on land use and food waste noted that nine species account for two-thirds of the world's crop production, a dangerous lack of agricultural diversity. All the experts appeared dismayed by what Jeffrey Sachs, the S.D.S.N.'s director, described as the "crude nationalism" and "aggressive anti-globalization" ascendant around the world.
"We absolutely need to change both the narrative, but also the theory and the practice on the ground," Dr. Mazzucato told the crowd when she spoke on the final expert panel of the day. "What does it mean, actually, to create markets where you create the demand, and really start directing the investment and the innovation in ways that can help us achieve these goals?"
Earlier in the day, she pointed at an announcement on her laptop. She had been nominated for the first Not the Nobel Prize, a commendation intended to promote "fresh economic thinking." "Governments have woken up to the fact the mainstream way of thinking isn't helping them," she said, explaining her appeal to politicians and policymakers. A few days later, she won. Reply Thursday, November 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM
Nov 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Noirette , Nov 11 2019 16:16 utc | 125Quote: "A recent Global Times editorial ( .. ) the West was incapable of seeing and thus appreciating the critical role of the Communist Party of China in directing China's success since Western dogma says government's incapable of being dynamic or innovative -- that only the private sector is capable of being that and doing so. And thanks to the teaching of the false Neoliberal doctrine as truth in schools and universities, Western governments and their publics will continue to do the wrong thing by following a false path.." -- karlof1 @ 60
Quote: "If you read many who come and comment at MoA that supposedly are "educated" you will notice that they continue to think and write in terms of the conflict being between socialism and capitalism (...) China is 80% capitalistic as are other "socialistic" countries but what matters is what part of the social economy is socialism versus capitalism." -- psychohistorian @ 72
Even long-ago groups (1) set aside 'capital to invest' in the shape of making tools (costly in materials, expertise, time ), keeping seeds (ditto), training children/youth to hunt, build shelter, give warnings, etc. Accumulating one good or another for a reserve store in slim times, for transformation at a later date - commodities - (reeds,coverings, etc.) or for favorable exchange, or even for coercion. By necessity, all such societies were socialistic, in the sense that sharing and re-distribution played a vital part, without which all would have collapsed.
Rent seeking or monopolisitic capture existed in the sense of a powerful ppl claiming a stipend (rake-off?), leaders lived better / had more wives / more space / whatever because of decisionary power, status, built on 'skill' or 'success' or 'x', perhaps merely dynastic, (small tribe), or, later, because of supervision and control posts that were needed to enable larger societies to function (Priest administration which regulated stores, exchanges, contracts - Sumeria), often resting on an over-arching narrative like a religious one. Here too socialism was at the core: without re-distribution to the poor, perhaps for their work, care offered to women and children, and regular debt forgiveness (formalised in Sumeria but existing before of course, in the 'buddy no prob' style) the society would have broken down.
Capitalism and socialism are modern terms (18th, 19th? cent.) and are strands that exist in all human and maybe even some animal groups. Meme key-words (i.e. not needed when analysing how one society functions, any will be both in part) that serve today as a rallying cry:
"Sorry...but the conflict is between socialism and capitalism...between the rich and the working masses, especially those who work and still they remain poor....as has always been....who says otherwise is only trying to fool the masses " Sasha 76.
Yes, a class struggle between the working 'poor' and rentier domineering 'rich' is boiling over now.
1. upper paleolithic to early sumeria, snippets
flankerbandit , Nov 11 2019 17:25 utc | 136juliania , Nov 11 2019 18:26 utc | 141
Noirette...thanks for an interesting and informative comment...
Also for calling attention to Karlof's comment at 60...Utilization of the Entrepreneurial aspects of Capitalism that provide for dynamicism and innovation works as long as they're employed for the public's benefit...
This idea of the supposed 'innovation' inherent in 'entrepreneurial capitalism' is another one of those myths that are just taken for granted and assumed to be true...
It's not quite like that...if we think of innovation as being specific to advancements in science and technology [as opposed to say process innovation in social organization or resource management etc]...then this idea is certainly false...
The advancement of science rests on education...it's as simple as that...the more resources you devote to building up an academic and scientific infrastructure, the more scientific innovations will be forthcoming...
The alleged 'dynamicism' of private enterprise is failing miserably in this regard...the prime example being America's increasing lag in the most scientifically demanding endeavors, like spaceflight and advanced armaments...both of which are completely privatized...
It was only during the 1960s Apollo program where an intensive top-down government effort yielded impressive progress...that successful strategy was then promptly abandoned and top-flight science handed off to the profit-seeking private sector...with disastrous consequences...
Today, the US has been dependent on political rival Russia for human spaceflight for nearly a decade...as well as rocket engines for its critical national security rocket launches...[which it cannot manufacture itself]...
The gap in advanced armaments technology is just as startling...with Russia clearly opening a large lead in groundbreaking hypersonic technologies, scramjet engines etc...
For those who have had an inside view of the aerospace industry over the last decades, the gap in technical capability is truly startling...for instance, there would be no ISS if not for the Russian Mir space station technology on which the ISS is based...
When looking at why this state of affairs has come to be, it is helpful to have again an inside perspective on the absolutely huge academic and scientific infrastructure that was built up during the Soviet era...
In the meantime, the capitalist US is not the least concerned with building up such a national science capability...this is obvious...recent figures on STEM graduates...
We note that China produces nearly 10 times as many as the US, with only four times the population...Russia with half the US population produces as many...
In engineering it is even more pronounced...
We note that even Iran, with one quarter the US population [but with a decidedly socialist system] is near the US in both categories...
The US is becoming a third-rate power in science and technology...[and no iphones and other consumer gizmos don't really count for anything]...
The simple fact is that in order to truly innovate, you need to have a PLAN...crony capitalism like the US defense industry, or the privatization of space technology are really producing diddly squat...Thanks to all posters. The information about Bolivia is sobering but very helpful. I was struck also by karlof1's repost of his email to psychohistorian @ 60:William Gruff , Nov 11 2019 22:58 utc | 161
"...What the Chinese are doing as you noted is keeping the primary sink of Capital under public auspices such that all major public supporting infrastructures are publicly owned and operated. Even the Communist Party of China is publicly owned--which is what political parties within the West ought to be so they can't be captured like the P and R-parties to work against the public interest..."
So, I was thinking what does it mean in the US to have a publicly owned political party - something like publicly owned businesses? Only small donations permitted to the party coffers? Sort of like unions are structured? That seems a possible and interesting development. This country ought to be able to attempt this.
We might say the Green Party tries, but maybe the FDR model isn't the appropriate one to this day and age. I don't think younger folk (then me) are 'turned on' by FDR since the generational link is broken. And maybe too they are not turned on by 'isms' either.
I like the last words of your quote above, karlof1 - maybe a "Public Interest Party", PIP for short? I wish Grieved was posting, hope he/she is in good health. The input on China from Grieved's research in depth has been very helpful.
Public interest is very far reaching, and takes in models from Russia and China to Venezuela and Bolivia, with Syria and Ukraine right there in the mix as well. It's a far reaching concept that rises above the 'ism's'.flankerbandit @136 points out that capitalist entrepreneurial innovation is a farce, but I would like to add some points.flankerbandit , Nov 12 2019 1:15 utc | 169
Lots of really cool tech was developed in the US after WWII and up to the early 1980s. Much of this came from giant corporate research institutes (think Bell Labs, Palo Alto Research Center, IBM's Watson Works, etc). From the mid-1980s to the present these incredibly productive research institutes have all but vanished. The remnants of what remains of those corporate labs certainly don't produce very much of interest anymore.
Why did capitalism create these labs, and what happened to cause their decline?
The research institutes came into existence because AT&T used to be a monopoly.
Americans didn't have so much of a "business friendly" fetish back in the 1950s as they do now. As a result they were extremely suspicious of and hostile to AT&T for being a monopoly. Of course, it made sense to have a unified communications network across the nation, so AT&T as a monopoly could provide better service than dozens of smaller competing businesses. The capitalist propaganda against nationalization was intense, so the public settled for hardcore regulation of the monopoly instead. Part of this regulation was a requirement that AT&T spend a hefty chunk of their revenue on research and development.
The problem, from a capitalist perspective, was that the amount mandated be spent on R&D by the regulations was far more than AT&T management could come up with profit-bearing lines of research for. As a consequence they hired scientists and set them up in laboratories just to consume the required number of dollars. This is to say that as a result of heavy regulations AT&T began to pour money into pure research rather than the applied type of research that can be justified to bean counters. This resulted in mountains of science, much of which remains lost in old filing cabinets to this day.
Those who like to meta-study science itself will tell you that most pure research doesn't really yield anything worthwhile. At the same time, most of the really big advances come from pure research. The successes of this pure research led AT&T to branch out into a wide range of technologies beyond just telephones and telegraphs. This began to be a business threat to other big players in the tech industries like IBM, who then had to set up their own huge freewheeling research institutes in order to remain competitive. Due solely to AT&T being forced by the government to setting up extensive research labs, many other businesses across a multitude of sectors of the economy were likewise forced to heavily invest in R&D.
Of course, AT&T would rather have just given that money spent on R&D to their investors, so they lobbied to have the regulations removed. By the end of the 1970s the American public had been successfully brainwashed by capitalist mass media into feeling a need for "business-friendly" government, and deregulation was the order of the day (thank you Jimmy Carter for starting that!). Even as such, people of that time were not ready for an unregulated monopoly to control telecommunications, so AT&T was broken up into smaller units that could focus on just making the biggest profit possible. The "Baby Bells" rode on the momentum of their former success, neglecting research and running their infrastructure into the ground. America then went from having the best communications infrastructure in the world, literally decades ahead of everyone else on the planet, to barely staying above third world status.
With Bell Labs reduced to a joke, there was no longer a justification for others like IBM and Xerox to keep spending on pure research themselves. Pure research was rationalized away. That said, what is referred to as "pre-market" research is still done today, even if not in the giant corporate research institutes. This is now done in universities on the public dime. The "innovative entrepreneurial capitalist enterprises" circle the college campuses like vultures waiting for students and faculty to develop something they can make money off of and when they see it they swoop in and snatch it away for a tiny fragment of its cost and value.
The point here is that AT&T was so micromanaged by government regulators that it should have just been directly managed by those regulators. AT&T should have been nationalized rather than broken up. Capitalism had nothing whatsoever to do with AT&T's prodigious technological productivity. That "innovation" was 100% the result of government "interference" in the Market. Most of the heavy lifting for innovation today comes from "pre-market" research at universities and is funded by the public. Very little fundamental innovation in the world today is financed by private investors.
The take-away? You don't need capitalism for innovation. On the contrary, capitalism interferes with and holds back innovation.William G on capitalism and innovation...
Thanks for a very good case study...yes, for all intents and purposes AT&T might just as well be labeled under 'state owned enterprise' at the time...
And that was another era...I will add here that the 'golden' three decades or so after the war, life in the US for ordinary folks really was pretty good...
The shop floor worker took home a decent pay on which a family could live nicely without a second income...own a nice home and send the kids to college...most of the manufacturing jobs were considered 'semi-skilled' labor, but were in fact quite skilled by today's standards...
The company president took home maybe ten times that of the shop floor worker...the financialization of everything that wasn't nailed down had not yet even started...
I went to college in Michigan [quite far from home] in the 1980s and knew family friends there...the elder patriarch had worked at GM, starting as just a guy on the line, but moved up to foreman and was an incredible source of technical knowledge about manufacturing...the house they retired in, in Grosse Pointe was nothing to sneeze at...
This kind of fair deal and upward mobility for the ordinary worker is long gone now...with temp jobs, no benefits and working in an Amazon warehouse for 11 bucks an hour [under sweatshop conditions literally]...
[An entire series from this local paper on Amazon here...]
Of course this doesn't stop the government from showering King Bezos with billions of our tax dollars to come up with some grifter scheme involving supposed rocket engines and spacecraft...
So yes, those were much different times...and yes, capitalism does not lead to innovation...
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'.
Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid.
Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything.
To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
Meredith New York Jan. 6Darsan54 Grand Rapids, MI Jan. 5
NYT David Leonhardt "When the Rich Said No To Getting Richer". Quite a contrast. "A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt's father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company's board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).
He worried that "the temptations of success" could distract people from more important matters. This belief seems to have stemmed from both Romney's Mormon faith and a culture of financial restraint that was once commonplace in this country. Romney didn't try to make every dollar he could, or anywhere close to it. The same was true among many of his corporate peers. In the early 1960s, the typical chief executive at a large U.S. company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio. Today, some C.E.O.s make $2 million in a single month. The old culture of restraint had multiple causes. One was the tax code. When Romney was saying no to bonuses, the top marginal tax rate was 91%." That was under GOP Eisenhower. And jobs here, unions strong, state college tuition tax subsidized-- the middle/working class had upward mobility and faith in the future. Now, per the international GINI Index of middle class security and upward economic mobility, the USA ranks behind many other capitalist democracies. What would George Romney say about Trump as president?Len Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 5
@Tom: Could it be possible too many loopholes and deductions are written into the system to make it effective? We have been defunding the IRS and building a tax system that favors creative returns for decades. Maybe it's time to go in another direction.Penningtonia princeton Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen "The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself." John Kenneth GalbraithBrinton Los Angeles Jan. 5
@WPLMMT; You mistunderstand. The 70% applies only to income OVER the threshold. So theoretically, the first 50 thousand (above the standard deduction) could be taxed at ,say 10%, the next 50K at 20%, from 100K - 500K at 30%, from 500k to a million at 50%. So the takehome from a million would be 715K, enough for anyone to live on. The exact details don't matter. It is the idea that only income above a very high number would be taxed at the marginal rate.Andrew NY Jan. 6
If the goal is to raise revenue by taxing high earners at a higher rate, it seems to me that a good place to begin would be to raise the effective tax rate on the rich to around 40% by eliminating the 50% discount on capital gains, and the depreciation allowances for real estate investments.fatrexhadswag DC Jan. 6
Income tax rate increases at high income levels would help but they miss the point. The real wealth in this country is from those who own assets, not those who draw a paycheck. The real deal would be to raise taxes on passive income and estate taxes on an ever increasing scale where, say, anything over $1m in annual passive income and $50m in estate value is taxed at 50% or higher. America is the land of opportunity; if those of us lucky enough to make it just leave it all to our heirs, they will have little incentive to work and add value to their own lives as well as to society. Plus the velocity of capital that would occur from heirs being forced to sell companies, real estate and other assets to pay estate taxes will place those assets in the hands of those best able to maximize their value going forward. Paul and AOC, I hope you are reading this and plugging it into your thinking.Jeffrey Bank Baltimore Maryland Jan. 6
I only wish the democrats would try to educate what the marginal tax means when they discuss policy in the public sphere. The media is going to go nuts with this 70% rate without taking the time to explain that it's only an additional bracket at the tippy top of the scale. This proposal wouldn't affect 99% of the country.LM Jersey Jan. 6
Every day I see and hear more about this young woman, I am more impressed. Disclaimer: I am a 68 year old white guy (Jew). She is smart, articulate, talks truth to power, and is also very hot! A tough combination to beat.Her Twitter comebacks against old Republican men are witty and hilarious, and hit home. I say AOC has a great future. She will learn the political ropes quickly. In ten years, stand by to stand by.Thomas K. Ray Marquette, Michigan Jan. 6
A high percentage of wealthy people inherited their money. There are many examples of highly successful men who marry beautiful, but not necessarily intelligent women. Their children's IQs are somewhere in between their parents IQ numbers. The end result is greed-driven wealth management and less than honorable decisions, including buying politicians. Narcissism runs rampant among this group with POTUS and some of his children as a prime example. Thomas Jefferson strongly felt that large inheritances should be heavily taxed to prevent the harmful activities of the very rich from destroying our democracy. He was right.Earl Philadelphia Jan. 7
We all benefit from living in this great nation of opportunity. Once you make more than 100K per month you should pay 70% tax. It is OFFENSIVE that our great nation does not provide free education through college, provide health insurance (especially, since there are people making millions ripping off the medical system), provide free daycare, housing and food for those who need support. TAX INCOME OVER 1 million....if this is a disinsentive then there is something seriously wrong with you.GG New Windsor Jan. 7
The U.S. has had a long history of a graduated income tax. In the Reagan era, the tax rate was at 50 percent having come down from 70 percent. We are not funding government spending, and are instead running up substantial deficits. Moreover, as the baby-boom population retires, social security and medicare will become unsustainable. While we can certainly reduce government spending significantly (especially the sacred cow of military spending), we will need to increase tax revenues. Tax increases are inevitable, and the most fair way to distribute the burden of increased taxes is through a graduated income tax. Those with the ability to pay, should pay more. After all, they are certainly enjoying the benefits of a free and stable country more than those at the other end of the income spectrum. While we can argue what the top marginal rate should be, it certainly should be 50 percent or greater. We should also eliminate the special tax preference given to dividends and capital gains, which mainly inure to the wealthy. To those whom much is given, much is expected.hammond San Francisco Jan. 5
@Jason First, no one is talking about taxing businesses at 73%, only individuals who are at extreme high levels of income. Second, why do the rich always seem to think that the "unwashed masses" owe them something? Go to Canada where in addition to a higher tax rate on your business you will also be paying for single payer health care for employees and subject to common sense regulations that businesses here are no subject to. The grass is always greener.Andy House The Sane White North Jan. 6
@NR Agreed and same here with our money. How much does anyone really need, beyond a certain point? Wherever that point is, I passed it decades ago. It's so disheartening to see how many people, often quite poor people, fully believe the mantra that taking money from rich people will reduce jobs and growth. Very little of my wealth goes towards growth. It's in index funds and T-bills and other instruments that mostly hold it until it's traded to some other wealthy person, hopefully at a profit to me. About the only way my money leads to growth is through the start-ups I have self-funded over the years. And even these were sold to large corporations (or they failed) by the time they had a few hundred employees. Most exits occurred with just a dozen or so employees. Mostly the wealthy barter and trade pieces of their portfolios with one another. It's just a game.Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
The most obvious thought to share here is about the laughable efforts of people who don't know economics from shoe boxes to try and sound more knowledgeable than a Nobel prize winning economist quoting... Nobel prize winning economists. The second most obvious thought is that the threat/boogie man of all the "rich people" leaving the US for "greener pastures" is both ludicrous and historically refuted. They simply DID NOT LEAVE in the 20th century, despite the economy becoming more mixed. They DID NOT LEAVE when the top MARGINAL tax rates were above 75%. And they did not leave when their research (you know, there actually is a fairly high correlation between affuence and intelligence...) revealed the FACT that the best places in the world to live are almost universally even more "mixed" than the US, are almost universally further left than what passes for a "left" in the US, and almost universally have significantly higher taxes. Folks, they just aren't going to bag up their bucks and blow town.The Observer Pennsylvania Jan. 5
@hm1342 It goes for politicians, some of whom are notably stupid, but not economists, who tend to be quite smart, if not necessarily correct.Paul Phoenix, AZ Jan. 6
Before Ronald Reagan, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. The country was doing fine and the rich were doing well also. Reagan reduced it to 50% and the rate was further reduced in subsequent administrations. For the last 40 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle and the bottom earners to the very top. A main reason for the income inequality that we see in the country today. The top marginal rate should be raised above 70%. Money made by labor and money made by money (investment) should be taxed at the same rate if we want to narrow the income inequality in the country and also find the money for investments in infrastructure etc. What AOC is saying is nothing radical but common sense.B NYC Jan. 5
"You see, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve is driving many on the right mad -- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves." Actually, professor, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite man as president for 8 years DROVE many on the right mad- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves.sjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
But rich people also benefit from raising their taxes in that the society as a whole takes a huge leap forward. Investment in our society leads to lower crime rates and less incarceration lead to a bigger tax base. Improvements to infrastructure and health care reduce enormous drains on the economy. Investment in education increase the value of labor, and most of all eliminating the deficit makes us strong at home and abroad. Everyone wins.Pam Skan Jan. 7
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, It is worth remembering just how much the companies of the mega-rich depend on tax paid for services and infrastructure. Where would Amazon be with out the road and US postal service?Blunt NY Jan. 5
@Billy Walker At less than $100k/year in income, you needn't worry. In income tax terminology, the term "marginal" means a rate that's applied only to income above a high threshold affecting the top percentile of earners. In your IRS Form 1040, you'll note that you are taxed at a certain percentage based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). Your AGI places you in a tax bracket, or income range. A marginal rate of 70% would apply to the highest tax bracket, because it would affect only those dollars that exceed a certain threshold (such as the $10 million mentioned by Ocasio-Cortez) - a threshold most of us will never even imagine earning, much less topping. Don't let the number scare you, Billy Walker - unless you hit the Powerball.Trippe Vancouver BC Jan. 5
Professor Krugman, I am delighted that you are back to writing what you know best and help the nation understand what is behind the noisy rhetoric. Ocasio-Cortez is an impressive politician. By getting good advice from experts, whether it is economists, sociologist, climate scientists and political philosophers, she will deliver to the congress a much needed intelligent and sunny feedback to propose and implement good policy. Please seek her out and offer her your advice. People like Saez, Piketty, Reich, Stiglitz and yourself are treasures (except for the second and perhaps the first national treasures) politicians should tap into. We need the GOP out of our lives. Rational taxation policy is one of the key elements of a successful Democratic government. It will help pay for all the good ideas: universal healthcare (you are lagging behind there), free public education from Kindergarten through College, environmental sanity. Regulation of Big Pharma, Wall Street (tax algorithmic trading for one, bring back G-S for another), Big Tech and of course Big Healthcare will all help getting back our country to sound governance of the FDR era, tax policies included. Thank you in advance.Bruce Shigeura Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Charlie in NY I do get tired of this type of comment, 'outsourced their military defence to the US'. The cold reality is that US administrations have very much wanted to have the largest military and a stunning number of military bases around the world. Your governments have embraced the role of world's police force including covertly (and openly) pursuing regime change in many jurisdictions. Over the decades your country has very much wanted this role, at the expense of other important priorities and needs in your country. Don't blame the rest of us for wanting a more balanced approach to military and other spending. Your wars in the Middle East, which have nothing to do with Europe, have cost you tremendously.Rob NYC Jan. 5
AOC is a ground-breaker on taxing the rich. I hope she takes on raising the corporate tax, which Bernie has hinted at. Chris Rock once explained, "Shaq is rich, but the white man who signs his check is wealthy." Raise Bezos' income and capital gains taxes, sure, but go for the big money -- tax Amazon's profits, assets, stock trading, acquisitions, and end all tax break/corporate welfare. Apple spent its Trump tax break buying back stock to enrich stockholders and executives; Sheldon Adelson put his on Republicans in the '18 election. Hedge funds bought, dismembered and stripped, then bankrupted Toys R Us and Sears, and another is ripping off Puerto Rico.
Neoliberal capitalism has gutted the American middle and working classes, leaving only gig economy jobs, like Saturn eating his children. Tax 'em and put their money to use on health care, education, the Green New Deal and job creation, affordable daycare, and rebuilding communities.Carole East Chatham, NY Jan. 5
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD Yes, I agree with this comment. It's not even possible to conclude that there is a correlation here; my guess is that a correlation would not hold up to statistical analysis. However, it is certainly clear that, "high taxes on the wealthy and solid economic performance can coexist just fine". And that's all one needs to know, as a higher marginal rate will bring many benefits without having to hold the burden of being a single-variable driver of growth.Grove California Jan. 6
If 20% of this country understands what marginal rates are, then I'd be surprised. I have been a financial professional for 30+ years, and I rarely have a client - no matter how sophisticated - that understands it. And somehow I wonder how much of Congress understands it. Our country experienced strong growth and a healthy economy when marginal rates were high. And the concentration of wealth did not exist back then. We are just rationalizing a greed is good mentality by using terms like 70% tax rate - to scare people - instead of just saying raise taxes on the top 5%.SC Boston Jan. 5
The Republicans are looting the country with no one stopping them. The rich control all three branches of our government, which explains our current fiscal policy. The rich obviously don't want to be part of America other than to own it.William NY Jan. 7
@MV This reminds me of when, I believe it was towards the end of the last recession, I accidentally found myself on a Republican phone list. I got a call during which they were pitching tax breaks for the wealthy saying how it would create jobs. My response was to say that they wouldn't add jobs, just spend it on more Hermes scarves. (They go from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.) I thought I was wise-cracking but sure enough I saw in the news a day or two later that Hermes stock was doing remarkably well.Concernicus Hopeless, America Jan. 6
@Jason, the rationale here is that society is better served with more equitable wealth distribution, as seen in Scandinavian countries, rather then the obscene wealth disparities seen here in the U.S. Your answer to this is, if you try and raise my taxes in order to benefit society as a whole, rather then just me I will run to anywhere that has the lowest tax rate. Well this is the mantra of every wealthy individual and business globally and as a result we have a tax base comprised of higher rates for middle income Americans who are squeezed financially in every direction and actually need the money, who carry the financial burden, while the wealthy use their money to buy political influence and over time further lower their tax rate for themselves and the business's they own, thus skirting their financial responsiblity to society which they benefit from. The rich have done plenty wrong, that is the point. We would not be in the horrible situation we are in now as a country without the sociopathic levels of greed seen in the upper echelons of wealth. Its time to take back the country from people like yourself who would rather run and preserve or hide their wealth then be willing to pay their fair share of taxes.79 RecommendJimB NY Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I doubt very seriously that you or just about anyone else regularly works 75 hours a week. That would very roughly translate into just under 11 hours a day seven days a week. Meaning you are at the office by 8:00 AM and leave around 8:00 PM seven days a week. I am being very conservative in allocating only one hour for eating, bathroom breaks, personal phone calls, etc... Your wealth would likely mean a mansion in the suburbs. Figure a minimum of 45 minutes each way drive time. Total round trip an hour and a half. An hour to shower, shave, have coffee and quickly check the daily newspaper. I have allocated zero time for dinner time, shopping for clothes or food, etc... Zero family time. The math just does not add up. If by some freak of nature you really do work 75 hours a week then you are an all-time terrible husband and/or father. No matter how big your bank account is or how many houses you own. Ask your family....would they rather have less things and you only working 45-50 hours a week or more things. If they even care anymore. Promoting absentee husbands and fathers is certainly not the way to craft a truly civil society.79 RecommendKeith Dow Folsom Jan. 6
Zillionaires work harder by investing smarter. Investing smarter often means certainty in return on that investment. How better to insure that certainty than to invest in a "low tax" congressperson? Much easier and better expected return than say R&D or infrastructure.79 RecommendPdxtran Minneapolis Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Intel is a prime example. The first Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Bush supporter named Paul Otellini. He famously told Steve Jobs that Intel did not want to make the microprocessor for the iPhone. Intel then went from being the number one maker of microprocessors to being the number two. The second Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Trump supporter named Brian Krzanich. He was an "expert" at manufacturing. Under his leadership Intel went for being the number one semiconductor company to being the number two. Apparently Republicans have a penchant for turning everything into number two.78 RecommendWalter Toronto Jan. 6
@vulcanalex: As a frequent commenter here, you SHOULD know about marginal tax rates, namely, that even with a top tax rate of 90%, nobody would pay that on their entire income. In the days when that rate was in force, it kicked in at an income level that would be equal to about $4 million per year. In order to avoid that, rich people upped their charitable contributions and did other things that might benefit society. Best of all, none of them starved.77 RecommendTessa NYC Jan. 7
@Andrew You are right - Warren Buffett stated that he pays less income tax than his secretary as his income derives from capital gains and dividends, and hers from employment.75 RecommendJohn C MA Jan. 6
His article was about personal income tax, not business tax. Unless you relinquish your US citizenship, you will have to pay income tax regardless of where your business is located. The point of discussing an increase in income tax on the ultra rich is to be able to fund social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the other federal programs and agencies. Why is this relevant? Because Republicans routinely cut taxes for the wealthy and then say they need to cut funding for all these programs to balance the federal budget. If we can generate sufficient revenue for the federal government then we don't need to cut funding for all these federal programs.71 RecommendVesuviano Altadena, California Jan. 5
The Trump tax cut has added $2trillion to the national debt -- -an increase of 10%. The tax cut was supposed to pay for itself, because the increase in wages and profits would provide enough in tax revenue ( even at the lower tax rate). The deficits would shrink and eventually go away. None of these fantasies have ever been realized. Not under Reagan, W, or Trump. Its time to Ms. Cortez-Ocasio's "insane" ideas -- a 90% tax on income over $10 million per year is no crazier than these Republican tax schemes and the "suffering" only affects a tiny nunber of citizens. A return to Eisenhower-era tax rates hardly constitutes Bolshevism.Reply 71 RecommendKen L Atlanta Jan. 5
There are a lot of comments here criticizing AOC and Professor Krugman over the idea of such a high tax on the mega-wealthy. To them I simply say this: You can't get away from our country's history. We were collectively at our most prosperous as a nation for the twenty-five years after the Second World War, during which time our middle class was the envy of the world. During that time, taxes on the very rich were in line with what AOC is proposing. Corporate taxes were also high. Union membership was also high. Our country was much better off for all of those things. I'm already a fan of AOC. She's going to make a lot of right-wing heads explode.Reply 70 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
I'd be interested in knowing to what extent much higher tax rates on the wealthy drive severe tax avoidance behavior, like parking money overseas. Clearly higher rates would have to be accompanied by stricter enforcement and tighter rules to avoid losing the expected revenue windfall.69 Recommendazlib AZ Jan. 5
@hammond Good point about the postwar conditions that went along with high marginal rates. But even if we avoid the mistake of concluding that high rates caused growth, there is still no reason to conclude that high rates impede growth.68 Recommendhm1342 NC Jan. 5
Maybe a higher marginal tax rate with stricter enforcement woudl have driven Trump out of the country and saved us the horror of the last two years. :-)Reply 67 RecommendSteve Berkeley CA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel: "And the very wealthy I've known are not smarter, more creative or virtuous than the folks who work for them or for other wealthy executives." That goes for politicians and economists, too.66 RecommendDan Kravitz Harpswell, ME Jan. 6
What is stupendous wealth good for? The marginal utility of wealth is quickly decreasing for ordinary survival goods like food and tents. But very expensive goods can only be had by the most wealthy. To get the most expensive and desirable things you must outbid other wealthy people. If you want to influence a key senator, for instance, you're going to have to come up with more than the opposition. If you want an original Van Gogh to impress others, you're going to have to outbid everybody else. If you need a kidney transplant quickly it won't be cheap. Wealth buys power. A mere millionaire nowadays only has leverage against common folk but is seen as a whiff by any billionaire. Power is roughly proportional to wealth, it's a relative thing. Those more wealthy can always kick sand in your face and that's still aggravating despite that you can kick sand in the faces of the myriads of the poor. The wealthy believe in the legitimacy of wealth and strive to purify this. There are always illegitimate jerks trying to beat the system, trying to circumvent the power of wealth. Jerks yammer about things like truth, science and justice. What they're really trying to do is get power without properly paying for it. It's necessary to put down those upstarts who whine about such things. This is another thing wealth is good for and another reason why you can never have enough.Reply 66 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
You quote economists in defense of your argument, or as the Republicans would say 'pointy-headed intellectuals'. But if Ocasio-Cortez is crazy, what would the Republicans call Dwight David Eisenhower? He thought a marginal tax rate of 91% was just right. So he's obviously far crazier than Ocasio-Cortez. Dan KravitzReply 65 RecommendLennerd Seattle Jan. 6
@Rima Regas The Rich really do believe they're entitled to rob the poor, and they've created various laws that make it easy and legal, which further entitles them, or so they believe. It's all part of the Rich-person alt-reality - a perk of being rich.65 RecommendHoward Stambor Seattle, WA Jan. 5
On the other hand, "...having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve . . . " in Congress is just exactly the ticket!62 Recommendr a Toronto Jan. 6
Just a reminder – and of course this is obvious to most readers – but neither the article nor many of the comments make it clear that the 73% or 80% is the last step of a progressive scale. Krugman and AOC are not proposing that ALL income be taxed at that rate. The maximum rate would apply only to that portion of a taxpayer's income above a certain dollar amount. The 73% or 80% rate could actually be set at a very high level of income, say $1 million or more. The benefits to all would be enormous. The detriment to high earners would be small.61 RecommendPenningtonia princeton Jan. 6
How about fixing the tax code - created by and for racketeers.Reply 61 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel; You neglected to mention golf, which was a major factor in getting promoted at the large corporation I worked at.60 RecommendPeter Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Jan. 6
@vulcanalex And what is good for the country and your fellow citizens? I would hope that it is not all about you. If one's goal is to have a vibrant economy, good infrastructure and education are needed. I have two suggestions as to where to look for the needed funds: corporations (especially those paying employees less than a living wage and depending on taxpayers to provide food stamps and subsidize health care) and the very high income individuals. You may not be in the latter class. I believe a fact-based national conversation about tax rates (individual and corporate, earned and unearned income and capital gains) would benefit the nation. I am not optimistic this could occur without significant leadership.59 RecommendR. Law Texas Jan. 5
Paul, I must plainly admit, not too often do a shed a tear when reading, your article today was such a moment. It was on a sidewalk in Paris or New York to celebrate my daughters birthday, that surfaced as I read on. Pretty sure it was Paris, as we walked along, I noticed a family. I looked only at the father - sitting on some cardboard, his two children and his wife beside him - I gave what i could and his eyes spoke thanks and my eyes spoke hope for his obviously wonderful family(and himself as well). Paul, as the good man said "the times they are a changin" and I believe with all my heart that Equality really needs to be spoken of at many dinner tables. Sincerely, PeterReply 59 RecommendPhillip Wynn Beer Sheva, Israel Jan. 6
Very interesting how AOC understands economics in this country, and how many GOP'er bugaboos are about to get skewered :) Why, we might even find ourselves in a public discussion of democracy and unrestrained capitalism being polar opposites, with GOP'ers having to admit there was democracy in this country - which heavily restrained capitalism - long before the vaunted animal spirits of free marketeer piracy descended upon us. As in, democracy provided the environment for capitalism to succeed, not the other way 'round, and that democracy should take precedence over free marketeering piracy. After all, the original settlers and colonists only allowed corporations to exist with charters which had automatic expiration dates, corpoorations were only allowed to exist for the purpose of some public works project, and a corporation's charter was immediately revoked if it was found to be trying to influence a political campaign; in no sense of the word were corporations people, too, my friend (quoting a famous American). My, my, my, what an interesting history discussion is about to occur - could Elizabeth Warren please be the Professor, Professor Professeur K. ?59 RecommendRichie by New Jersey Jan. 5
Hate to disagree, but there's clear evidence AOC doesn't understand economics. For instance, she has argued it's impossible for her to find affordable housing in Washington DC. Whereas it's become plain that she is living rent-free in the heads of many Republicans.Reply 59 RecommendMatthew Carnicelli Brooklyn, NY Jan. 5
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich that benefit from profits of large companies, like Walmart for example, do not do the actual work themselves. Instead they rely on the working poor to create their profits and then they hoard it all, while the rest of us provide money for food stamps etc.59 RecommendCitizenTM NYC Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson The 73% rate would only be on income above a stipulated amount, say $10,000,000 a year. Are your yearly earnings above $10.000.000 a year? The problem with unregulated capitalism is that it leads to people eventually wanting to impose an unrealistic form of socialism. Experience strongly suggests that a mixed capitalist-socialist economy is as good as it gets.58 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
'... privilege combined with aggression ...' THANK YOU.58 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
@MV "Those who get that little extra $1,000 will easily spend it on a necessity, like an appliance". Exactly. And, given the tax giveaway the Republicans gave to corporations and the 1% last year, there probably won't be that little extra $1,000 for the appliance buyers this year. They'll probably owe.57 RecommendGator USA Jan. 7
@SandraH. Exactly. Impose high marginal rates on capital gains at the same time. We could make them a bit lower than income tax rates to incentivize capital investment. But now, even with low income tax rates, the difference between capital gains and income tax rates is a scandal--basically a fat loophole for rich capitalists.57 RecommendChris philadelphia Jan. 6
@Billy Walker How much of Jeff Bezo's (for example, nothing against him specifically) billions in annual income would have been possible without the existence of the interstate highway system? How about without the existence of the US postal service? How about without the internet (it wouldn't exist without DARPA's pioneering research)? Seems to me the government and US taxpayers were equal partners (or greater) in his earnings.57 RecommendAWG nyc Jan. 5
I would be more inclined to not laugh at Ms. Ocasio-Cortez if she had articulate and well reasoned thoughts. Instead she spouts leftist talking points and when asked for detail or context she almost always struggle to provide it. But because leftists like what she is saying they give her credibility just like Mr. Krugman.55 RecommendJohnson Smith TN Jan. 6
My father was a CPA during the years from 1947 to 1983. We had this discussion about tax rates early on when the highest rate (during the Eisenhower administration) was 90%. When I asked him about it as a child, he said simply that no one paid 90% of their income to the government. First of all the tax code had many more loopholes than later on, and secondly, he taught me the idea of a "graduated tax", which we still have on the books. All of us pay 10% on the first 15,000 or so that we earn, then 12% on the next 10,000 or so, then 15% on the next, and so to the top rate of 36%. The problem, as AOC and Prof. Krugman point out is that those at the very top of the income scale pay practically nothing compared to those below. The same is true when speaking about the Social Security tax (FICA) which is something like 6% of you pretax income and is capped, at I believe, around 128,000. Which simply means that if you make 100,000 a year your paying 6000 into the system, if you make 10 million, your still paying only around 6000 into the system (or about 0.0006%).55 RecommendArturo Belano Austin Jan. 6
So much greed by these socialists. No, you do not have a right to someone else's properties simply because they have more than you do. The rich already pays an oversized amount of taxes, while the bottom 50% pay zero in federal taxes. That does not sound fair. In America, everyone is free to start a business and make money, and most billionaires in this country are self made. They worked harder than anyone else. Bill Gates, for instance, started Microsoft at age 18, when most other guys his age were wasting their time at meaningless night clubs. He worked hard and long, and for ten years, did not take a single day off from work. Eventually, it began to pay off. The the greedy socialists came out of the woodwork, demanding to "tax the rich" to pay their "fair" share. Well, the rich already pay more than their fair share.54 RecommendRick Garber Minneapolis Jan. 5
Paul Krugman clearly hit a nerve. The dubious right is out in force here in the comments section to defend the rights of the beleaguered rich.Reply 54 Recommendcjl miami Jan. 5
The comments to this piece have reinforced my belief that a sizable portion of American taxpayers do not have a clue as to how the calculation of their federal tax bill is actually structured. At the very least, the term "marginal tax rate" is synonymous with "total tax rate" for most. To those who are trying to effect a sane change to our country's taxation policies, I say you need a structured PR campaign to raise awareness of just what the heck "marginal tax rate" actually means. You could start by showing how, even under current rates, it's possible for someone making an average income (Warren Buffett's secretary?) to pay a higher effective/total tax rate than someone (Warren Buffett?) whose income puts them in the top 0.1%. If you don't believe me, next time you're discussing taxes with friends, ask them the following math problem: John's adjusted gross income is $1M; The top marginal rate on that income is 37%; How much tax does John pay? If the answer you get is, $370k, well, that's my point. Most people won't say that there's too little information given to solve the problem. (This is, the current top rate on that income, by the way.) Once a sizable majority of Americans actually understand this, getting the support to enact a top MARGINAL rate of 70% shouldn't be too hard of a sell.53 RecommendDaniel USA Jan. 7
@Charlie in NY The Scandinavian countries are facing a whole lot less difficulties than the US. The military spending argument is a red herring. The US deal with NATO is/was that the Europeans would provide the cannon fodder for WW3, while the US would provide the nukes and high tech systems. This allowed the US to funnel money into the defense industry, while not maintaining as large an army as would otherwise be required. Back out of NATO, and all those European countries will "go nuclear" as fast as they can buy the technology from Israel. Is this in the US's best interests? We didn't think so after WW2. The saying was: NATO was designed to Keep the US in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.53 Recommendrj1776 Seatte Jan. 5
@Freda Pine the top rate 70% would not apply to you and if it did, the author of this opinion piece and most of its supporters would likely agree that you should not pay anywhere near 70% if you are making 300,000$52 RecommendGT NYC Jan. 6
"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can`t have both." --Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis A fundamental reason for higher tax rates on the rich.Reply 52 RecommendJD Smith Pittsburgh Jan. 5
We tried this ... it was called the 70's. Did not end well .....Reply 52 RecommendPeter G Brabeck Carmel CA Jan. 5
I think it would serve progressives well to clarify their rhetoric and policy proposals and speak about raising taxes on the ULTRA RICH? I think there are many people who might be considered "rich", who already pay quite a bit in taxes, but aren't earning enough to engage in the complicated tax-dodging schemes that the ultra rich use. They bear the brunt of a tax code that allows ultra rich earners off the hook while they pay a lot in relation to their earnings. I know many upper-middle class people who might otherwise agree with Democratic policies, but when they hear "tax the rich" they vote Republican because they can't imagine paying more in taxes. It's the Jared Kushners of the world who should pay more, not the small business owner with a few million in a retirement portfolio.52 RecommendLisa Cabbage Portland, OR Jan. 5
A more pedestrian way to view Prof. Krugman's argument is to compare social unease and income/wealth distribution during what many, including conservatives, regard as the nostalgic fifties (fifty years ago, they commonly were labeled the fabulous fifties) with those of today. The 1950s, while it certainly had its problems and the civil rights movement still was in its nascency of emerging from 150 years of overwhelming oppression, nevertheless marked a decade of arguably America's most prosperous period when the prosperity metric is distributed proportionately across all socio-economic classes. The wealthiest lived very well indeed. Private railroad cars still adorned rail lines before the advent of private jets. While extreme poverty existed, especially among urban blacks and other minorities, and some rural communities, for the most part, the vast middle class was progressing and living comfortably. Top-tier marginal tax rates for large corporations and the wealthiest hovered close to AOC's proffered 80%. Most importantly, large corporations still operated on the principle that they were accountable to their stakeholders, i.e., investors, employees, customers, suppliers and communities, not solely to shareholders. Companies offered retirement pension plans rather than 401ks and they honored them. Management was compensated reasonably for their services, not with get-ultra-rich schemes that were backed by ludicrous fail-safe parachutes for malperformance. AOC is right.Reply 51 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@hammond Look at the dates on the graph, the high growth came AFTER 1960. Which war are you thinking "supercharged" the manufacturing sector? As far as causality and causation, gee wiz, this is a newspaper, not an academic journal, the man can only give so much evidence without losing readers. For a more complete presentation, read Jacob Hacker, "American Amnesia: How the War on Government Made Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper." Government investment is critical for high growth rates, and the wealthy need to pay taxes for that to happen.51 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 5
@Jason The rich do something wrong every day. From the perspective of someone concerned with labor rights, which perhaps you aren't, they receive compensation vastly disproportional to the amount of labor they expend, and outrageously disproportional to the amount of labor expended by people who aren't rich who work equally long hours and make similar sacrifices. That is what is wrong with the notion of a free market. It is immoral and unethical, and you have to put an academic faith in the superiority of the free market system above your concern for what's right in order to participate in a system like that, and most of us either do or simply don't have any choice in the matter. Not everyone cares about that. From the perspective of someone who is just concerned with incentives and outputs, who has bought into the notion of a free market system, what is wrong is that, as Krugman points out, we don't operate within perfectly competitive markets, not even close. From that perspective, the rich profit from a system that naturally favors them completely independent of variables like labor, risk, demand, etc. I don't guess you have to go to confession for having done something wrong, but a little humility and perspective never hurt.51 RecommendT Ontario, Canada Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit " To top off the entire royalty thing, much of their wealth was most likely generated from tax breaks, tax giveaways, tax shelters and the like. Odds are that a substantial portion of their wealth was never taxed to begin with and with the loss of the estate tax, they get to will it to their heirs tax free." Example #1. Trump and his family. Example #2 Mitt Romney, whose Bain Capital wealth derived from tax breaks earned by bankrupting once solid corporations and raiding their pension funds, etc, then delivering the bill to the tax payers to pay through the Federal Pension Insurance agency and other tax payer funded sources like welfare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance for those who lost their jobs and benefits.51 RecommendAppu Nair California Jan. 6
Bravo, AOC. Hopefully this will mean growth in the middle class. Many of the very wealthy don't like to admit that their wealth was largely contingent upon economic and tax policies that drove many from the middle class down to have-not status. Hopefully this kind of policy will right that wrong.51 RecommendJim Davis California Jan. 6
Squeezing the top 5% will not be enough to fill the Federal coffers. The super rich have superbly qualified accountants. In our borderless economy, tax havens and loopholes galore to attract and retain rich folks from all over the world. They exist right now but the incentives to hide from Uncle Sam are far less than the overtaxed, nanny states of Europe. Cortex the conquistador needs to earn money on her own by working first, pay taxes, meet payroll or know people who are not on the doll in order to understand taxes make the wealthy flee. And, investment will sink. Talks like this has already made her the East Coast counterpart of the elder stateswomen of stupidity, Rep. Maxine Waters. It is hard to recover from absurd public pronouncements that are etched in hard disks forever.Reply 51 RecommendBrendon Carr Seoul, Korea Jan. 6
A 90% tax rate on anybody doesn't seem to be a fair number. Nor 80% or 70%. Sorry but how about institute a luxury tax penalty on corporations who give out huge CEO payouts. Works for the NBAReply 50 RecommendMark Thomason Clawson, MI Jan. 5
The unstated but glaringly obvious assumption in Paul Krugman's and Sandy Ocasio's worldview is that "The Rich" are not citizens and human individuals with their own rights and interests, and families for which to care, but rather livestock to be farmed, milked, and slaughtered for the sustenance of everyone else -- under the wise instruction of Paul Krugman and Sandy Ocasio, of course, who as the will not be required to make the same sacrifices they demand of their fellows amongst The Rich. It's appalling in its entitlement. No thanks, Comrades.Reply 49 RecommendFrank Colorado Jan. 6
Diminished utility? How can they get that fourth mansion, complete with a set of cars and matching clothes in the closets of all houses? How can they get a second, bigger yacht? How can they get that private plane upgrade? That costs tens of millions. That is their utility. It just comes with much higher price tags. They need those things to be "part of the world" in which they live. That is how they can lend a plane or a yacht to a politician. It is how they show they are real people, not just those little tax payers. Readers may think I'm exaggerating here. I'm not. That really is their world. We are so far outside it we never see it, but it does leak into the press, only to be hushed up. Remember Mitt Romney's car elevator? That was paid for with the retirement funds of workers stripped out of closed companies wrecked by Bain Capital, a vulture capitalist firm. They have no retirement, but he's got a car elevator. Utility.49 RecommendHoward Boston Jan. 5
Luke 12:48: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." You'd think all those good Christians on the right, even if they are not that much into economics could find some direction from the New Testament. Trickle Down is a Big Con. The president is the Grifter in Chief. And the GOP knows it. They just don't want to kill the orange goose that laid their tax rates (among other things).Reply 48 RecommendGary Bernier Holiday, FL Jan. 6
Assume the Republican congress had drastically cut taxes on everyone named Howard (either first or last name). Our extra spending would have stimulated the economy and created jobs. Could the reason that Republicans did not do this is that we Howards did not band together and give the Republicans massive campaign contributions? If we had, I am sure the Republicans would have claimed that the tax cuts to the Howards would have paid for themselves. This is the intellectual depth, or lack thereof, at which the Republican Congress operates.Reply 48 RecommendKagetora New York Jan. 6
The unfortunate truth is that there are really three kinds of Republicans when it comes to tax policy. The ignorant; those who have "faith" in the conservative shibboleth that low taxes drive growth and everyone benefits. Like most faithful, they deny facts and endorse lies that support their superstition. There are the brainwashed; people who might be capable of rational thought, but have been reciting the low tax mantra for so long they've stopped thinking about it and just repeat it from rote. Then are the cynics; people who actually know they are selling snake oil, but don't care because it is so lucrative to them and their financial supporters. These are the worst. They knowingly create misery and decimate the middle class for own economic advantage. It is time to put an end to Republican rule.47 RecommendJohn Marshall New York Jan. 7
Never-mind the validity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's positions, which I totally support, but it's hard to understand the right's hysteria surrounding AOC, until we remember their similar hysteria surrounding Barack Obama. Let's not forget that he was a secret muslim who was born in Kenya and secretly wanted to take away our guns. What most irritated them was the fact that he was an articulate, charismatic, highly educated man who was BLACK, and try as they might, they were unable to make the lies and stereotypes stick. Now, we have an articulate, educated WOMAN who is HISPANIC, and they are breaking out the same tired bag of tricks. President Obama, both because of his character but also because he was highly conscious of the image he had to portray being the first black president, was always diplomatic and tended to ignore these racist attacks. AOC, however, grew up during the Obama years, and she saw what that battlefield looked like. I love the fact that she always fights back, quickly, intelligently, and bitingly. And each time she does, she shows up her critics as the hypocrites they are. Bravo.Reply 47 RecommendEd Watters San Francisco Jan. 6
@Freda Pine I'm thinking you have absolutely no idea how taxation works. No one would pay 70% on their income. They'd pay 70% on income over $X, which in AOC's instance is $10 million. But... let's take your wrong approach and say it's a flat 70%. You wouldn't "get out of bed" for $3 million? You must be quite rich. Not only would I get out of bed for $3 million, I'd show up early and go home late. At $300,000, you would be paying about 30% as a GRADUATED tax, not flat. Please, if you're going to post on this stuff, at least familiarize yourself with the BASIC concepts in taxation, like marginal versus effect rates.47 RecommendClaudia New Hampshire Jan. 6
Establishment Democrats are just as incensed by AOC's 70% proposal as Republicans, but can't say so, for PR purposes.Reply 47 Recommendheysus Mount Vernon Jan. 6
I don't give a hoot about female, of color or young. If she has solid ideas, that's all that counts. If taxing the billionaires works, I'm all for AOC. Personally, if you look at politicians for entertainment value, I much prefer her roof top steps to watching a mouth unconnected to brain standing in front of "that dump" the White House.Reply 47 RecommendAndrew Chapel Hill, NC Jan. 6
Atta woman AOC. Just what we needed. A women who knows something and speaks her mind. I'm all in. Tax em!Reply 47 RecommendOld blue Chapel Hill, N.C. Jan. 7
@Payton Some politician's pipe dream legacy project... you mean like a certain Border Wall? And everything you've talked about with wanting to keep track of money - X% in Education, Y% for Healthcare, Z% for Military Spending, is written down in the form of the Congressional Omnibus Spending Bill, passed every year. It dictates what money goes where as a combination of smaller appropriations bills. I suggest you read it. You might learn something. I would rather trust a (functioning) government with my money than a collection of wealthy private individuals or corporations, because I can participate in government. I can vote my President out of office.I cannot do anything to tell Tim Cook, or Jeff Bezos, or the Waltons to use my money more efficiently, or that I disagree with what they're doing. Conservatives love to whine about government inefficiency any say the private sector does it better, but that's simply because the private sector cuts corners to do it faster and cheaper. Those cut corners get people sick when water infrastructure breaks down prematurely due to mismanagement by a private utility company, or a large farm corp dumps its waste into the river system instead of going through proper disposal procedures. The government is not necessarily inefficient - it is Thorough.47 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@Billy Walker With all due respect, Mr. Walker, if taxation is theft, it is theft regardless of the percentage taken. Your notion that taxation becomes theft at a certain percentage is... just your notion.46 RecommendCharlie in NY New York, NY Jan. 5
@Mjxs "When did we begin to believe that mega-millions to CEOs will magically transform into wealth for all...?" We don't believe that, but we've been told that we do. Additionally, some of our less useful democratic institutions--the Senate, the electoral college--guarantee ongoing, electorally unearned power to the side that propagates this falsehood.46 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
@SJP. In fact the EU and Scandinavian countries are facing great difficulties bordering on stagnation or worse in some cases. It is also useful to recall that since the end of WWII, these Western countries mostly outsourced their military defense onto the US - that huge savings was what underpinned their growth.46 RecommendNovember 2018 has Come; 2020 is Coming Vallejo Jan. 6
@George There's nothing like an anti-tax conservative who didn't even start fact-checking his own ideological prejudices ... The wealthiest 1% don't have a $200k income, but at least a $390k income, with an average of $1.5 million. Now can you please explain why asking billionaires to start paying back the debt (in part caused by massive tax cuts given to them, by the way) so that people who were never lucky enough to earn so much can at least have access to decent healthcare and education would be a bad idea ... ? How about putting America first, rather than the wealthiest 1%? Any objections?46 RecommendLew San Diego, CA Jan. 7
It's great to see that the age-old competitive male trick of casting every smart, well-spoken, attractive, or youngish woman as a dumb "nit-wit" has lost its power. People who aren't unsuccessful right-wing males know that such men are simply frightened by ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women. And, at long last, today's ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women are not one bit intimidated by men who insist on taking absurd potshots at them. This is wonderful progress! Go Nancy, go AOC, go freshman House Democrats!Reply 45 RecommendLuke NYC Jan. 5
@Freda Pine: No, economists are not physiologists. They're not philologists or entomologists either. So what does physiology have to do with any of this???45 RecommendLen Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson You are missing lots of things, including the fact that under such a system there would be more tax brackets for higher incomes (rather than one bracket for all incomes over $500k.) And the tiered system would still apply, so the 73% rate would only affect income above a certain amount. Re: moving out of the country, if your income is being generated in the US, it would be subject to US taxes. Maybe use your affluence and tax savings in Texas to educate yourself?45 RecommendJdavid Jax fl Jan. 6
Let's see if we can understand why tax cuts for the Rich or more generally, income and wealth inequality, is bad for the economy. Economists have a concept called the velocity of money. It is the frequency, how often, that money changes hands in domestic commerce. Here's an example. Suppose the government gives Scrooge McDuck a Billion for advice on the comic book market, If Scrooge puts the bucks in his basement, and forgets about it, that doesn't help the economy at all. That Billion has a velocity of 0. Also, if Scrooge loses a financial bet to Daddy Warbucks, and the Billion moves from Scrooge's basement to Daddy's, that is a change, but the velocity does not change because it is not a useful change. It doesn't affect commerce. Money going to the Rich has a lower velocity than money going to the non-rich. The Rich spend a lower percentage of their money. What's a guy or gal who already has so many houses he can't remember how many & an elevator for his horse gonna spend his money on? The answer is he is going to use it to speculate.There is a correlation between inequality & financial speculation. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1661746 Speculation is bad for the economy. That money has a very low velocity. AND it increases risk which we have seen in 2008 ain't a good thing. Since 2007, the velocity of money has plunged. https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2016/04/a-plodding-dollar-the-recent-decrease-in-the-velocity-of-money /45 RecommendM.R. Khan Chicago Jan. 6
I own three businesses and I as I write this on a Saturday night in a hotel away from my business trying to expand it I can assure the professor I would not be doing this at a 70 percent tax rate!the ivory elite economists who write this drivel has never owned a business created one job or made one payroll. Did you just see the last jobs report the growth rate after trump cut taxes .44 RecommendRima Regas Southern California Jan. 5
These frauds who claim economic expertise without any real academic qualifications include Larry Kudlow.Reply 44 RecommendJessa Forthofer Maui Jan. 6
@Fourteen This sense of entitlement by the white patriarchy is rooted in America's original sin. From an essay I wrote in 2016: "Now, there are three things that we must deal with and we're going to transform this neighborhood into a brotherhood. We've got to deal with the problem of racism. We've got to deal with the problem of economic injustice or poverty. And we've got to deal with the problem of war."" The issues King delineated for his audiences in the months leading up to his assassination are the very same issues present day candidates are grappling with – the only difference is that in the intervening fifty plus years, the three fundamental problems identified by King have grown exponentially. Inequality is far wider today. Today's poverty is far deeper and encompasses a much wider segment of America's population. https://wp.me/p2KJ3H-1Tb Nothing can change until we have truth, reconciliation, and reparations because if it is OK to go on without apologizing as a nation, then it is OK to go on exploiting the classes in cycle after cycle of economic ups and downs and cycle after cycle of racial divide and conquer.44 RecommendAnother Joe Maine Jan. 5
I read this article as I sit on a patio at my Airbnb in Maui, looking out across the ocean. My girlfriend and I worked hard and tucked away any extra pennies we had for this vacation - doing so for a couple years. We are here to celebrate her 30th birthday, and it feels rich and lovely because this trip was hard-earned and marks a goal accomplished. It is unlikely we'll take another vacation like this for quite some time. The thing that strikes me the most as I read this article is that I sit here looking across the water toward the island of Lanai. Larry Ellison of Oracle owns 98% of that Hawaiian island (where the Dole pineapple plantation used to be). It is not a small island. Why do the rich need such things? Why is it reasonable to say that an individual man should even be able to purchase such a lavish, absurd amount of this beautiful paradise (and then only really allow the extremely wealthy to visit at the Four Seasons there, where a "bad" room runs over $1000 per night)? Why? The rich are not taxed enough.44 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 6
I'm not sure if this is still strictly true, but as of a couple of years ago the richest woman in the USA was the widow of one of Sam Walton's (i.e., Walmart) sons. In other words, the wealthiest woman in America was the heiress of an heir of someone who actually created a business. In case that isn't quite clear, the richest woman in America is someone who never, as far as is known, never did a lick of actual labor in her life. What is utterly astonishing is how many people have been brainwashed to believe our system is actually a meritocracy, and taxes on the wealthy are taxes on people who earned their wealth by the sweat of their brow. . .Reply 43 RecommendMiriam Chua Long Island Jan. 6
@Socrates The Rich have rigged the system to favor themselves against us. They don't know how to make money the old-fashioned way. They'd be lost in a competitive market. Instead, these Takers live in an alt-reality echo-chamber slapping each other on their backs for being "Makers." The Progressives see them clearly as parasites.43 RecommendJames Thornburgh San Diego Jan. 7
"...Republicans almost universally advocate low taxes on the wealthy, based on the claim that tax cuts at the top will have huge beneficial effects on the economy." Trickle-down economics, voodoo economics; when will people stop accepting this drivel, which was disproven by Reagan? As for the average middle-class American, what I find remarkable is that most people want lower taxes AND more services; I read letters in Newsday about it all the time. Totally illogical.Reply 43 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@romanette Well said.43 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
@Andy The quote that comes to mind is, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair42 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit I would add another prime motivation beyond wealth and power and control. For those with wealth and power in excess of what they could ever need, why do they continue to arrogantly pile it up regardless of the cost to others? I believe it is fear - the fear that people will object to the imbalance and try to right it. Great wealth and power engender insecurity. The Rich are afraid of us.42 RecommendGwe Ny Jan. 5
@Plennie Wingo, true. Our first tax reform should be to tax all income at the same rates. We should also eliminate different tax schedules for tax payers, depending on their marital status.42 Recommendch Indiana Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Yes and no. In today's world, male privilege has given you that view. However, and this is not a small point, that is YOUR view. In reality, MOST people at the top marginal rate that *I* know are not merely CEOs. The people that I know, peeps that would qualify for this tax hike, are the upper managers, high wage earners, typically at the height of their career. They tend to be first generation high earners...otherwise they would not need to work in this manner because their investments would otherwise feed them. They do not have independent wealth but they are trying desperately to accumulate it. Because they typically live in one of the two coasts, they tend to have high property taxes and a high cost of living. They have the means to pay for their kids education, but they worry about their children ability to build on their current success. In my experience, the high earners I know come in different flavors and nationalities. They only thing they all have in common is achievement: academic and economic. But I will tell you something I do know about the CEO types and they don't grow on trees. Try and recruit talent and not pay them. You won't be able to.... and it will make a difference to the bottom line, because I have seen it. This plan will push down the upper middle class down the way that the GOP already decimated the other middle class. To combat income inequality, close the "Mitt Romney" loopholes.42 RecommendLarry L Dallas, TX Jan. 6
The wealthy CEO's don't even work an extra hour for that extra $1,000. They just negotiate for obscene amounts of compensation that they cannot in any way spend. There was a study awhile ago - I think I read about it in the NYT - that suggested that a higher marginal tax rate might reduce the incentive for CEO's to negotiate for higher and higher compensation, because that would bump them up to a higher marginal tax rate. If that is correct, then corporations would have more to pay ordinary workers, and income inequality would be reduced.Reply 39 RecommendDavid Andrew Henry Chicxulub Puerto Yucatan Mexico Jan. 5
@Gwe, frankly, I think the executive management of American companies back in the 1950s and 1960s were more competent because they were better at balancing the needs across a number of constituencies. Even after adjusting for inflation, they made much, much less. Now THAT'S value! What has changed is an attitude of me-ism that an older generation that had to survive WWII and the Great Depression did NOT have. Unfortunately, that sort of zeitgeist died with them and the country is poorer as a society for it.39 RecommendMarjorie Riverhead Jan. 5
Paul, in your previous column you noted that corporations were sitting on a mountain of savings. The money is mostly in foreign banks, because the corporations don't want to bring it home, because they can't find good investments. I recently visited with a retired Canadian banker who said his best years were when he was working with young entrepreneurs...contractors, builders, small business owners. He watched them grow and helped through some of the rough parts. Is there something wrong with today's bankers? (Everyone please revisit The Big Short) Back to today's tax story. About forty years a go I needed three American engineers with experience we couldn't find in Canada. They didn't want to come..."taxes are too high." I explained that their private health insurance was a tax. When we factored in the cost of US health insurance they would have more after tax income in Canada. They came to Canada. Please continue to write about taxes. Thank you. Ancient Canadian economist In a Mayan fishing villageReply 39 RecommendIgnatius J. Reilly N.C. Jan. 6
My dad owned a small business on the Gold Coast of L.I. during the 60's which catered to old money WASPS whose wealth was taxed at upwards of 90%. However, they all "summered" on L.I. or Cape Cod, had homes in Manhattan, Paris, London and yachts in the Caribbean. And, as a middle class young adult, I was able to attend community college for $50 per semester. That's when we had real upward mobility, a dynamic economy and a strong middle class.38 RecommendDave Lafayette, CO Jan. 6
Who is this "The Rich"? Let's face it, it's sort of a Boogeyman. The REAL tax amounts come from BUSINESSES. BIG BUSINESSES. And that's who should be taxed and taxed well. There shouldn't even be an individual income tax. Everyone's income comes from a BUSINESS one way or another and should be taken out and adjusted for on the Business end. And as we know Business just got a HUGE break under Trump and the Republicans.Reply 37 RecommendEd L. Syracuse Jan. 6
As Mr. Krugman is often fond of saying: "Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income." Or, to quote Barack Obama in 2008: "When you spread the wealth around a bit, it's good for everyone." For his quote above, Obama was eviscerated by the Right for "advocating socialism". Of course for those who believed Saint Ronnie when he said, "It's all YOUR money" - ALL taxation is "socialism". That would be the GOP's mantra if it wasn't for the military-industrial complex (socialism for defense contractors). But I digress. The message behind both the Krugman and Obama quotes above is simply that we are currently on a political and economic path to neo-feudalism (where the Lords own 90% of the wealth and we Serfs squabble over the remaining crumbs). By contrast, "everyone" benefits from a European-style "social democracy" - where government actually "provides for the General Welfare" so the average citizen doesn't have to worry much about food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. These basics are the foundation of Maslow's "hierarchy of needs". Once these basic needs are met, citizens are free to concentrate their energies on "productive pursuits" (whether that's earning more money or writing a symphony). And everyone (even the wealthy) suffers from far less stress than in our current jungle system where most Americans literally struggle from paycheck-to-paycheck - just one illness or job loss from total destitution. Yet we continue to vote for serfdom.37 RecommendMytake North Carolina Jan. 7
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been written about one who has accomplished so little.37 RecommendRich Fairbanks Jacksonville Oregon Jan. 6
@Jason Let the wealthy flee and see if living outside of the USA on a daily basis holds much of a candle to living every day in the USA (e.g., Seattle, LA, or NYC) to name a few. Good luck.37 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
I own a small forestry company. Despite a competent tax preparer I pay well over 20% in federal income taxes. A large forestry company (Weyerhauser) with billions in revenue pays 0% federal tax. AOC knows exactly what she is talking about.37 RecommendJohn Mardinly Chandler, AZ Jan. 5
@Thomas Zaslavsky There no way to create wealth other than inventions and discoveries that 20-21st century science has shown us. All the other money making schemes are either rent seeking or exploitational. So the way we compensate scientists and scientist makers (teachers, aides etc) is so flawed that our sustainable scientific growth is in jeopardy (check the time it takes a PhD in biology to get a permanent job!). I don't see CEO any better than the scientists I've met in my life. The only difference is that CEOs are uber competitive whereas great scientists are excellent collaborators. There will be no capitalism, only feudalism without scientific discovery and inventions ... stop lionizing the CEOs.36 RecommendKim Terre Haute Jan. 7
It's time to end the salary limit for Social Security taxes. Also, people like Warren Buffet, who don't get a salary but make their income from dividends, should pay into Social Security by a 'Payroll Tax' on dividends.36 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Jason People and capital are not more mobile than they have ever been. The median income in the US has been stagnant for decades, and the buying power of that income declines every year. This is happening as the ultra-rich see tax breaks and hundred-percent increases in their income.36 RecommendMike Tucson Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I've seen 100s of scientists who forego consumption, risk their life on finding truth (less than 1 in 10 PhDs land permanent jobs in Academia presently) that in turn help move the 20-21st century machine into creating wealth for all. I don't see them asking for 10 million plus to get rewarded. Einstein refused a pay hike at Princeton to $8K (present value $40) but without him there'll be no internet, mobile phones etc for supposedly "self-made" men (yes men) like you to make money from! We're all incredibly hard working like you (mothers, teachers, drivers, painters etc). You're incredibly lucky to make 10 million plus! Modesty would be a nice gesture ...36 RecommendFrom Where I Sit Gotham Jan. 5
I wonder what our country would be like if we had the same distribution of income by deciles as we had in, say, 1980 before the Regan tax cuts and subsequent cuts. How much more money would people in the bottom three quartiles have in their pockets? With more money to enjoy life, could productivity have continued to increase rather than decrease. I suspect with all of that money in their pockets they would have consumed more, GDP growth would have been higher, there would have been less impetus to drive work to cheaper labor markets in Asia because people could afford things from higher labor markets like the good old USA. We would have more money to invest in infrastructure. We would have enough money for universal health care. So in turns out, I believe, the Republican tax policy is just one big scam to create a landed gentry in this country, something I doubt the founding fathers would be ok with having just gotten out of a country where the landed gentry were everything. And my having a universal health care growing at GDP rather than 2x GDP, would would have a low cost and better health care system.36 RecommendGary Monterey, California Jan. 7
Please don't repeat what you wrote here. It is tragically WRONG though it is widely repeated! No one pays 70% on ALL their income. Each tax rate applies ONLY to monies in that bracket. If a theoretical 70% applied to income above $10,000,000, and someone made $11,000,000, then they would pay the rate of 70% on $1,000,000. Furthermore, if there is an exemption for the first $12,000 of income, and a rate of 5% from $12,001-$20,000, then you, me and our millionaire example would all pay no tax on the first $12k, $399.95 on the next bracket and so on. The end result is what's known as the effective tax rate and that's the progressive part of it.36 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Sigh .... another failure to understand the meaning of marginal tax rate.36 RecommendJohn Quinn Virginia Beach Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, I think if you scratch them deep, many very wealthy people in the U.S. would like to see better infrastructure, universal healthcare, more people in homes than on the street, etc., plus a progressive program to deal with climate change. And if a logical, sensible tax proposal could be put forth, they would vote and help pay for it, slowing our nation's slide toward becoming a third world country.36 RecommendYuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 5
Progressive taxation is a fraud and unfair. Everyone should pay a flat rate; around 20%. There is no reason not to tax all taxpayers with the same rate.Reply 36 RecommendJohn D. Out West Jan. 6
Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh -- when he was California State Assembly Speaker ran against incumbent Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970 promising a confiscatory tax of 100% on income above $1 million a year. Unruh, known for his quip "Money is the Mother's Milk of Politics" ran as a progressive populist against Reagan, who was re-elected with a decisive margin of 52.8% to 45.1%. Post-election Analysts were surprised that working class Democrats rejected Unruh because they said they strongly opposed his 100% tax on all income above $1 million annually. After Unruh lost there was an apocryphal interview with a taxi driver who said "if I make more than a million a year I don't want the state taking it away." When the reporter asked the cab driver if he really thought he'd ever make that much, the cab driver said "who knows, I might get lucky." Stamped on the politically modified DNA of too many working Americans is the fable that everyone is just a sliver of luck away from tycoon wealth. It's a fantasy of American Exceptionalism that explains the celebrity and allure of privatized wealth trumping common good and common sense. To paraphrase Marx: Money lust is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". To misquote the late Carter Ag Secretary Bob Bergland, "the rich know the cost of everything but the value of nothing." Amen to that.36 RecommendTony Long San Francisco Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen, exactly right. A reduction in incentive for the ultra-wealthy to make an extra million or two also can help reduce the cutthroat nature of this economy & society. What would the rich guy have to do to add that extra couple of million? Lie about the asbestos in his company's talcum powder? Ignore product safety standards to save on manufacturing cost? Fire a wad of people and drive the remaining skeleton crew over the edge into stress-induced disease? Find a way to get that toxic waste off your hands, say as an ineffective, downright toxic fire retardant for furniture and baby clothes? Anything society can do to lower the probability of outcomes like those is a significant benefit for all.36 RecommendAndrew Zuckerman Port Washington, NY Jan. 5
"So why not tax them at 100 percent? The answer is that this would eliminate any incentive to do whatever it is they do to earn that much money, which would hurt the economy." And yet, as both you and Thomas Piketty have pointed out, most of the wealth being generated now is through investment, in other words making money from money. So nothing useful is being produced and these people are not "job creators." Go ahead. Tax them at 100 percent.35 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 7
@Matthew Carnicelli America isn't happier but rich Republican donors are. Republicans work for their rich donors, not for America so the party is just doing its job.35 RecommendNelson Austin Jan. 5
@Mjxs Rather than restore the draft, have a national conversation on our outsized military, and its (our?) goals. Perhaps reducing its budget significantly, instigating universal community domestic service for all our youth, and giving some of the savings to repair our tattered safety net would get us to where we would like to be.35 RecommendRyan GA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey Please read the comment from "Barking Doggeral," I think it answers your question. Basically, "super compensated" does not equal super productive by a long shot.35 RecommendJim California Jan. 5
I'll tell you how Ocasio-Cortez will perform as a member of Congress: She won't. She is too intelligent and her policies are too sane and sensible to mesh with the crooks and corporate shills who control our modern political system. The people want wild, outlandish, showbiz personalities, not a return to the stable social democracy that made us the greatest country in the world during the 1950s. AOC may know how to use Twitter, but unlike Trump she doesn't know how to use fear and deceit to influence an entrenched profit-driven plutocracy, and unlike Trump her ideas won't allow global megacorporations to consolidate their money and control over us so any hope of financial support is out of the question. And her ideas concerning policy would promote America's strength and stability, something that our foreign enemies will fight tooth and nail to prevent. With no corporate cash and an army of foreign agents and their Republican employees undermining her, AOC's agenda will go nowhere. Furthermore, she will accomplish nothing in Congress because there is no Congress. Trump has eliminated it. The shutdown is not a means to the end of building the wall. The Wall fight is just a means to an end: Trump and his followers want the government to remain shut down. They want to undermine our government and punish Federal employees by putting them out of work. Their motivations are resentment, spite, and the driving need to hurt Americans. Trump's goal is two branches of government.35 RecommendDoug Brockman springfield, mo Jan. 6
Facts are always disconcerting because they challenge beliefs and in this situation sense of personal self worth amongst the highly compensated.Reply 35 RecommendJim Muncy Florida Jan. 6
Imagine yourself a cardiologist making 900K a year. Now imagine taxing his income at 90% inclding state taxes. How likely is he to get out of bed at 3 AM to do y our emergency angioplasty, since his income depends on aperformance based compensation model and his sleepless night, before working the next day as well, isnt going to earn him beans a fter taxes?35 Recommendmpound USA Jan. 6
Yes, but 80% -- holy cow! That just sounds outrageous. It's very bad optics if nothing else. How can the IRS agent, with a straight face anyway, demand, "Okay, buddy, for the privilege of living here, you owe us eight out of every ten dollars you earn." Really? Isn't that absurd overreach? No? It's fine with me personally: I'm poor, living on a modest Social Security check. It's also fine with me if you outlaw booze and cigarettes, too, because I'm not a patron. I've no skin in these games. And I do love the idea of financing our deeply in debt, democratic government and helping the poor, I'm one of them, but, yeow, 80%? That's going to be a hard-sell just on the face of it, although I concede to the wisdom of my superiors -- the Ph.d. economists, especially the Nobel-Prize winners. Just as I did when called upon to fight the noble Vietnam War. They know more than me, right? So, AO-C, carry on, girl. You have the money gurus behind you, while this layman remains bemused, stymied, and not a little red-faced by the paradox, appropriateness, and effectiveness of an 80% tax rate. Holy cow! Good morning, Vietnam.Reply 34 RecommendVan Owen Lancaster PA Jan. 5
"The controversy of the moment involves AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes, which is obviously crazy, right? I mean, who thinks that makes sense? Naturally, Krugman and the cocktail waitress/tax policy savant known as "AOC" don't even bother to define what constitutes "very high incomes", which demonstrates just how poorly thought out their magical thinking really is. Try again, Paul.Reply 34 RecommendJoe Public Merrimack, NH Jan. 6
Great article. No need to argue the point. Raise tax rates on those earning north of one million to 73%. Just do it. Now.34 RecommendAnatomically modern human At large Jan. 7
Taxation is theft. It is wrong to tax people at 70%, because you are stealing from them.Reply 34 RecommendPeter Z Los Angeles Jan. 5
". . . a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes . . . is a policy nobody has ever implemented, aside from the United States, for 35 years after World War II -- including the most successful period of economic growth in our history." I've been waiting for decades now for someone to notice this. For several years during world war II, the top tax rate was 95%. It dropped a bit at the end of the war, but by 1950 it was back above 90%, and there it remained until 1963. When vast amounts of public money flow into private pockets in the form of defense spending, which has been the case since the 1940s, high marginal tax rates are what keep public money public. Anything less amounts to a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Which is exactly what's been happening since the Reagan-Thatcher years. Call it "socialism for the rich". It's time to get back to the common sense policies of working for the common good, and that means progressive taxation.34 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
Paul.....Taxing the wealthy is the ONLY way to provide income equality to all Americans. The rich never, ever, make their money without the Democratic Capitalistic system for them to operate within. The US infrastructure, the laws, the labor of the many, and other common benefits to all businesses provide Americans the opportunity to build personal wealth. If the wealth Gap gets too big, the many "have nots" will revolt. It's in the interest of the 1% to make sure the 99% is taken care of. It's a matter of survival.Reply 34 Recommendhikenandclimbin MV, WA Jan. 7
Currently the 1% own 50% of global wealth, they will own 66% by 2030. Left unchecked, they will eventually own virtually all wealth, which reduces you and I to serfs, and is intrinsically unstable. The reason for this is simple: the return on capital is about 6-10% while GDP growth is 2-4% which means that wealth will accumulate with those who own capital: aka: the rich get richer. That is a systemic outcome. The solution is simple: tax at the top, invest at the bottom.34 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
@Jason You clearly didn't read the editorial: Why is it that the Conservatives never articulate a policy proposal based on factual analysis ? Because, much like Jason's suggestion that he would move his business out of the country & Jason's criticism that the left's answer is soak the rich, has no basis in reality. Jason may or may not move his business but this of little consequence as his 'income' would be distinct from business profit. & the notion that the rich are soaked is difficult to reconcile with our current economic situation. The Far-Right seems to misunderstand how tax structure works & how tax income is used. Jason's suggestion that the private sector applies superior critical thinking skills is belied by his comments & this is driven home by the mere fact of his comment being an 'Times Pick'33 RecommendGeoffrey Dallas Jan. 6
@SJP The only country that has tried a marginal income tax rate above 55% recently (France, 70%) abandoned it as unproductive, i.e. it wasn't collecting much because people successfully avoided paying it. That speaks more to me than what may be optimal in theory. With state and local taxes added in, marginal tax in US blue states is already about 50%. An 80% tax rate is a political fantasy, even in Sweden (total top marginal rate 56%)33 RecommendLaurie USA Jan. 6
It sounds like a strategy to discriminate against a minority group based solely upon the one characteristic that defines their minority status - their income. No law-abiding group should be targeted for disproportionate, punitive taxation based upon their income. The ultra wealthy, who broke no laws while attaining their wealth, should not be financially exploited after the fact simply because the majority would like to siphon off their wealth rather than innovate and work for their own. Who are you, or anyone else to say how much of a person's hard earned income is "enough for them" or to decide how "bothered" they will be if you forcibly take the portion of their money you've deemed to be excessive. What have you done that entitles you to deserve any portion of another person's earnings? I could find a large group of impoverished, homeless people who would feel that the middle-class income you earn is too much for you and that you should be forced to distribute any amount over a subsistence income to them since they are less fortunate than you. I doubt you'd be as quick to advocate for their claim to your money as you are for your own claim to the money of the wealthy.33 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Annie. "What if we stopped believing that government could fix all of our problems?" The US Constitution is written so that the Federal Government provides for the common good. If we stop believing that, we might as well move to Russia.32 RecommendMeredith New York Jan. 6
@dmckj So Denmark is Cuba?32 RecommendBenjamin ben-baruch Ashland OR Jan. 6
Of course Repubs say tax cuts for the rich will benefit the whole economy---that's you and me. What else can they say---the truth? That they want to confiscate our national productivity---meaning what you and me produce at work? Because it's their due, as superior beings who call the shots? Then decide how little to pay you and me in return? Or that it's perfectly ok to send our jobs away to low wage countries, and leave us to scramble? Can they say that they should dominate our govt like the aristocrats of olden days? Those ones we overthrew way back when? No, would sound awful. So they and well paid consultants make up these economic slogans---and millions believe them! And many go along with it to be in with the influential and powerful. The politicians taking donor money spread the lie. The big con is to equate corporate wealth with Americanism and Freedom. They manipulate us with the implied threat and contrast of a true Communist dictatorship where the govt owns everything. But as Krugman's favorite 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders said---Yes, of course we want capitalism, but regulated capitalism! If elected govt doesn't regulate corporations then the corporations will regulate the govt. That's what we have now, disguised. Btw-- PK says, " if a rich man works..." How about if a rich woman works? Or rich person, Or rich people. Times have changed. Hard habit to break. Man is not synonomous with humanity.Reply 32 RecommendBlank Venice Jan. 7
Wow! A congressperson who understands economics and who can dance too!Reply 31 RecommendJW New York Jan. 7
@Allan Reagan I had an accountant in my early days of entrepreneurship who wisely explained to me that paying taxes was far better than not paying them. He was right, as I earned more income, I paid more taxes and became more successful so I could earn more income and pay more taxes. Paying the 70% rate on your earnings over $10m means you already earned $10m. In a year. Now stop complaining already.31 RecommendMarc Herlands San Diego, CA Jan. 6
@Billy Walker Regardless of whether we are talking about marginal rates, the idea that taxation is "theft" is something that the wealthy have been pounding into the heads of the population for decades now. If that were true, then those that don't want to pay taxes should not be permitted to use OUR roadways, or seek protection from OUR police force, or expect their trash to be picked up by OUR sanitation workers. If and when a natural disaster strikes and your home is destroyed, please don't look to US for relief. If you are in trouble in a foreign country do not look to OUR embassy. When you want to sue your business partners or you get into an accident and need to sue the negligent party or even when you are arrested and accused of a crime, please don't look to OUR courts for redress. If you have not paid for these services, please don't steal them from those that have paid. Also, if you have a business, please do not steal the use of OUR railways, roadways, bridges and tunnels, postal system, shipping ports, waterways, rivers, lakes, airports, airways, traffic controllers, etc. Because the more you are making, the more you will be using OUR infrastructure and services. Get your own and stop putting such heavy demands on what is OURS. Freeloading rich people will not be tolerated despite the fact that they are and always have been amongst the most self entitled people to grace this country. Pay your taxes or stop stealing.30 RecommendSteve Crouse CT Jan. 5
Eisenhower said that high marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations was not socialism but sound economic policy. He said corporations would pay a greater portion of their profits from increased worker productivity to workers rather than pay an increased amount in taxes to government. For decades workers received annual increases in wages and benefits when marginal income tax rates were high. Then Reaganomics was introduced which lowered greatly those marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations while raising payroll taxes on workers and businesses. The result has been no growth or loss of real income for 90% of the country, a small to moderate gain for the top 9%, and a huge gain in real income for the top 1% of income earners. Businesses gave bonuses to management for increasing before tax profits. They did this by reducing the growth rate of wages and benefits and moving production to Mexico and China where wages and benefits and regulations are much less than in the US. It has been goodbye good industrial jobs and hello to bad service jobs for the past 35 years. It's time to go back to that which helps most people and not the top 1%. Goodbye to trickle down economics which has never worked to help the bottom 99%.Reply 30 RecommendAlexanderTheGoodEnough Pennsylvania Jan. 6
@Ellen All correct, our infrastructure has already become third world. Next time you're stuck in traffic under a bridge, look up at the rusted steel and spalled concrete. I do this often because I've been involved with road construction all my life and I'm aware of the collapse of our infrastructure. However, few people ever look up at a bridge when below it, and don't recognize what they see. The politicians don't look either, but the engineers do.30 RecommendJack SF Bay Area Jan. 6
What's good for the USA is good for General Bullmoose!! https://youtu.be/Kj65AcbekIE I've been saying this for years. The wealth of the wealthy is founded upon and maintained by the prosperity of America's working people. Those among the ±1%, and most especially the 0.1%, who are not sociopaths ("It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." ~ Gore Vidal et al.) must realize that the best investment that the well-to-do have ever made in all of human history was in America's infrastructure and its middle class during the 3+ decades following WW II. Even though at the time the taxes on the wealthy were overly confiscatory, not only did it result in remarkable economic prosperity for all, including the wealthy, it also meant that the wealthy could sleep safely in their beds and not have to cower behind walls and private armies for fear that their heads might end up on a pike. Sadly, those days seem to be passing. A person with no hope can be deadly, so, as the people lose more and more, the rich must, perforce, fear more and more. Some of them know that, and know better, but... "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis When John D. Rockefeller was asked once, "How much money is enough money?" He replied, "Just a little bit more."Reply 30 RecommendMolesh NY Jan. 6
It's not just higher tax brackets for the wealthy. It's also tax breaks on dividends as opposed to dividends as well as all of the other tax breaks that rich people receive. It's also unaudited and untracked overspending on the military, subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and all of that stuff. The result is that young people pay for their education for the rest of their lives; roads, bridges, railroads, airports, water systems, etc., are in a state of advanced decay and our society as a whole is suffering from structural deterioration. So good for Krugman and Ocasio-Cortez. It's about time.30 Recommendsjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
Taxing the rich at 75% is a fools errand. President Holland tried only to see rich leave France. In a global economy, the rich move, when taxed too much, (in their opinion) to where taxes are lower. It is just as lovely to live in London - with the source of your income conveniently located in the Channel Island) then in NYC30 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@WPLMMT I am a liberal and a progressive and what I want is for the ultra rich to stop grabbing everything for themselves aided by unfair tax laws and bought politicians. Write back in 2.5 years, WPLMMT, and see if your prediction about her longevity comes true. I wouldn't take the bet, if I were you.30 RecommendJMM Worcester, MA Jan. 5
@Robert Orban Reagan did not do it. Volcker did it, with the approval of Carter, before Reagan became president, and continued the same policy under Reagan.30 Recommendbud mckinney Jan. 6
@Ron Cohen A bigger contribution to the "why" is the changes in accounting rules on options and stock compensation. This plus the SEC rule changes regarding advanced advice (forecasting company performance) have allowed executives to play the expectations game and manage their payout.29 RecommendKaty NYC Jan. 7
Krugman,as usual,you are wrong.When you pay 70% or more in taxes;what is your incentive to work.The people taxed at the 70% rate will leave,just like France.Then France reduced the tax rate.Cortez is an individual with scant knowledge of economics/taxation.I find it amazing she grew up in affluent Yorktown Heights in Westchester County yet wants us to believe she's a poor hispanic from the Bronx.Reply 29 RecommendCharles New York Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Under Dwight D Eisenhower, taxes on the wealthy were much higher percentage. Ocasio regurgitated a Republican's tax plan and called it her own. During Ike's tenure, those monies were used to build the greatest infrastructure America ever built, and the last time America made any meaningful investment in our infrastructure - because Reganonomics paved the way to decrease taxes on the wealthy and there went America's infrastructure monies. Why are you so determined to make sure the rich get richer?29 Recommendlester ostroy Redondo Beach, CA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey "Why not punish the unproductive with high taxes as an incentive for them to become more productive".... It's rich to imply someone making $20 an hour is unproductive as opposed to one born to the investor or heir class who may have never lifted a finger or even earned their original wealth in the first place.29 RecommendDenise Johnson Claremont, CA Jan. 7
@Plennie Wingo When considering tax rates, the so called payroll tax should be folded in. Most observers of our tax rates seem to forget that part of the deal. Since the government uses the payroll taxes collected no differently than it uses any other funds collected, I think it would be smart to get rid of it altogether. Right now, the payroll tax, which is supposedly funding Social Security and Medicare has a surplus every year and is added ludicrously to the national "debt." Let's get rid of all of these fictions and start over so that the actual taxes everyone pays will be more equitable.29 RecommendMark Portland, ME Jan. 6
@Billy Walker So who cares about the data, history, experts- you know what you know. Our current tax laws have been written by the rich & corporations. Do you think that is why they favor the rich & corporations with little regard to what is best for our country? I do.28 Recommended connor camp springs, md Jan. 5
I think this quote by Mr. Krugman is a dangerous mentality to have for us citizens. "Or to put it a bit more succinctly, when taxing the rich, all we should care about is how much revenue we raise." Boy could this logic justify some madness down the road.28 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
Capital, and capitalists, can flee. It's why the Beatles left the U.K. in their prime. Remember "Tax Man"? Paul, you more than anyone have spoken about the fact that capital knows no borders; it just seeks the highest return.28 Recommendjas2200 Carlsbad, CA Jan. 7
Isn't a major elephant in the room the amount of our taxes that goes to (Eisenhower's famous phrase) the Military Industrial Complex? As Martin Luther King said :" A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."Reply 28 RecommendMidnight Scribe Chinatown, New York City Jan. 6
@Allan Reagan: If you are making under $100,000, you won't be hurt by the higher tax rates Democrats, including AOC, are talking about. AOC floated higher rates on income over $10,000,000. I think you are safe.28 RecommendAKJ Pennsylvania Jan. 6
The future has arrived and we'll do anything to stop it dead in its tracks. AOC is a symptom of the future, not the full-blown terminal illness lying in wait for the oligarchy. Beto O'Rourke may also be a symptom of this new dreaded epidemic. The GOP has been doing this smoke-and-mirrors act with the economy for decades: the "job creators" who can't be taxed, the efficient markets which result in a major financial catastrophe every ten years, the "competition" which only results in the consolidation of economic control and power in the hands of a few big corporations (monopolists) and big banks. And the whole thing runs on free money - zero interest rate policy - or effectively zero when inflation is factored in. We have a cult. A cult of "conservatism" which is profligate, wasteful, irresponsible, fatuous, anti-scientific, anti-fact, and anti-intellectual. Cults work better without facts. They're hostile to fact. And cults are dangerous like ignorance, and greed, and chicanery. Conservative = Insurgent. Up = Down. Donkey = Aristotle. And doesn't it sell like hotcakes along with those $40 red hats...Reply 28 RecommendMij Sirron California Jan. 6
@sharon Not to mention how Mitt shoveled a bunch of options into his retirement account without having to pay taxes on their full value.28 RecommendScott Texas Jan. 6
Great idea, let's raise more tax money so that we can do truly productive activities such as flying dead ex-presidents and senators across the country (several times) in 747's. Maybe they needed the security or were in a hurry to be buried. Then, of course, look at the great value-for-dollar we get from military spending.Reply 27 RecommendWizarat Moorestown, NJ Jan. 6
I don't need some 29 year-old who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. I also do not need an academic who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. Both of these folks are sad examples of the "let me tell you what is best for you" paternalistic, liberal ideology that we should all be very afraid of.27 RecommendWorldPeace2017 US Expat in SE Asia Jan. 6
Professor Krugman, AOC is no flake and the Republicans know that. Trumpian Republicans are running scared of the new freshman class of 116th Congress as it is the most diverse and educated ever. They are looking for ways to discredit these young, energetic, and educated Representatives of the People who came/got elected to take back the Government from the Corporations. They promised to make it work for all the people. Just to add one more item in your list of why we should tax the top 1% with a 70%-75% tax rate is the fact that the utility of extra money to people with middle and low income is certainly very high as compared to higher income folks/corporations. The marginal propensity to save is almost zero for extra money received as a result of tax cuts/reductions in the lower income individuals, essentially they are going to spend all of it in the local economy to obtain the necessities of life. This extra money spent in the economy would have a major multiplier effect in the economy. We do live in a consumer based economy. The revenue generated by taxing the extremely wealthy individuals/corporations would go a long way to fund a lot of Progressive ideas/values for our citizen. The freshman class of 116th Congress gives me a lot of hope for the future of our country.27 RecommendnotBillWalker New Britain, CT Jan. 7
@paulkrugman You have stated things I learned 65 years ago in my first economics class when good teachers were proud to say the names like Samuel Gompers and the like. Thank you. You were right about the timing and prosperity that the US had in the period after WW II. The US growth rate was doubling every 11years, as shown in graphs on The Guardian on 5 January. Only after Reagan did the US begin a real spiral down in growth, but still ahead of all others except China. Real productivity increases are hindered by some almost immovable obstacles; Greed by the rich, over weight among all groups and failures in educating/inspiring the masses. The three are global phenomenons but only addressing the first can lead to having the wherewithal's to address the other 2. I look forward to reading and following @AOC in her work in the future, she has great guts. I'm with her.Reply 27 RecommendPrede New Jersey Jan. 7
@Billy Walker It's a marginal tax rate, Billy. You're not going to be paying anywhere close to 70%.27 RecommendJoel Sanders New Jersey Jan. 6
@Jason Capital controls, high tariff walls, and high interest rates fix this. You know what the united states had from 1947-1970ish26 RecommendDave From Auckland Auckland Jan. 5
Mr. Krugman's citation of a utility analysis lacks a grounding in property rights, which arguably define and distinguish the US from all other political economies. That said, if we want to use utility as the standard of value, then let's use rule-based utility vs. act-based utility. On that standard, how have the socialist / communist / so-called "progressive" / fascist / generally collectivist countries performed over the last 100 years in relation to the US? Who has flourished? Who has perished? If you are in doubt, take a drive through a typical Pyongyang or Naypyidaw suburb and compare it to a typical US suburb. Also consider Moscow and Havana; they love collectivist thought almost as much as the US academy. Earth to Mr. Krugman: human beings are more than widgets in your economic toolbox. [No, not a Republican.]Reply 26 RecommendTim Kane Mesa, Arizona Jan. 6
If 'everyday' people had guaranteed healthcare, education for their kids and food on the table, they would not be so overwhelmed with making and saving money. Whatever tax rate that requires on whomever could pay would be worth itReply 26 RecommendMichael London UK Jan. 7
According to the late Nobel Laureate & Econ Historian Douglas C. North's "Structure & Change in Economic History" @ the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire wealth was so concentrated that 6 senators owned half of North Africa, specie so concentrated that trade was reduced to barter & the commercial economy collapsed. Serfdom was created to tie workers to the land. The Roman legion still held a tactical advantage over their adversaries, but it had thinned, as a result the empire needed a bigger army however the wealthy & powerful used their influence to avoid paying taxes; as a result the empire lacked the funds & the political will to defend its borders @ a time when it controlled all the resources of Western Civilization @ a time when that included Turkey, Syria, Egypt & North Africa as well as the best part of Europe against barbarians. Similar events lead to the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, Byzantium, Mideavel Japan, Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolege-Hoover America (triggering the Great Depression, Hitler, WWII, the Holoust), oh, & BushJr America. Concentrated wealth destroys great empires, civilizations & nations. Marx got in trouble for pointing out that industrial capitalism grows slower than the rate of wealth concentration. The right likes to shoot the messenger. He was doing them a favor. High taxes & redistribution of bargaining power is needed to stave off instability & collapse & hardship so vast you can't conceive it.26 RecommendMike NY Jan. 5
Really fascinating article and very informative. More please. What's the lowest rate in the US? When I started work in 1981 in the U.K. I paid 30%. Now down to 20%. Plus about 3% for national insurance which is income tax really but is meant to be hypothecated to the NHS. I'm happy to pay some more to ensure the continued cohesion of our society. I don't know why some people find that such a problem.Reply 26 RecommendNextGeneration Portland Jan. 6
This ignores the fact that most people with a lot of money don't make their income in the form of a paycheck. What we really need to do is return the tax rate on investment income, not earned income. That would also help end these wild swings and speculation we see on Wall Street.Reply 26 RecommendJS Seattle Jan. 7
Appreciate the reporting, but NYT why not report on what Nancy Pelosi is saying or doing vs. a freshman in Congress? The Speaker of the House has years and years of experience; is one of the few members of the government who has been recorded effectively talking "back" to Trump; and as her daughter says, is someone who clearly knows what she is doing, so people (in America) can sleep at night.Reply 26 RecommendPaul Wortman Providence Jan. 5
@Jason, you wouldn't move to CA or Ireland, you'd move to countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Macedonia. Go ahead, be my guest!26 RecommendGary Durst Boston Jan. 6
It's been clear since Ronald Reagan that tax cuts don't trickle down while workers wages stagnate. It's time to reverse course, especially when Trump has nearly bankrupted the Treasury and Republicans have been shown to be hypocrites on deficit reduction. It's time to address income inequality and provide funds for Medicare-for-All; an infrastructure program that will bring the nation into the 21st century with high-speed rail and a modern energy grid that includes solar and wind; and prods states to return to tuition-free higher education at state colleges and universities. A.O.C. is "right on the money" with a top bracket of 70 percent. It's time to end the Trump kleptocracy and fully restore the graduated income tax.Reply 25 RecommendMax Dither Ilium, NY Jan. 7
Fascinating...an oversimplified correlation of two variables (tax rates and growth) to justify redistribution of wealth. "Hey, Mr/Ms X, I know you earned your income based on the value of what you do in a competitive marketplace, but you don't really need all of what you earned...so we the government, arbiters of wise decisions about how to spend money, are going to take most of what you earned and give it to someone else." Poppycock.... Rep Ocasio-Cortez seems both nice and sincere; I'd venture to say she's a very good person based upon her concern and empathy, and I don't understand the flawed tactics of the right in picking on her extra-legislative habits (dancing, clothing choices, etc.) Her empathy and personality don't balance her terrible politics regarding redistribution of wealth. As for economists -- Nobel Prizes notwithstanding -- the good ones are driving gorwth today and not publishing opinion pieces based on poor economic theoryReply 25 Recommendmrfreeze6 Seattle, WA Jan. 5
The point AOC (and, surprisingly, you) miss is that the kinds of wealthy people she wants to target with a 70 percent marginal tax rate don't make their income from wages. They make it from capital gains instead. So, if she wants to create a more sustainable revenue flow to the government, she needs to work on getting those rates up to reasonable levels. But capital gains have different forms. The part that she needs to focus is on speculative capital gains, not investment gains. Short term gains resulting from just flipping securities is gambling writ large, and there's no reason why the taxpayers should have to subsidize that risk-taking with low tax rates for the flippers. Treating these gains as ordinary income is goodness, but only if that rate matches the higher rate AOC wants. In fact, those should be higher than the top marginal rate, and expenses related to them should not be deductible. (This should include carried interest, too.) Long term capital gains tend to create jobs, infrastructure, and retirement savings, so those need to be encouraged with deductions of related expenses, and lower tax rates, too. In any event, I encourage AOC in her thinking. We need to readjust our tax system to make it more fair to the taxpayers, and to stop the robber barons on Wall Street from ripping us off.Reply 25 RecommendA Populist Wisconsin Jan. 5
@Prof Forgive me for not feeling sorry for the wealthy. They have benefited greatly under the system of government we call the U.S., a system we all pay for. There are plenty of other taxes people pay besides federal taxes (excise, state, city, local, property, etc.). They don't have armies of lobbyists, attorneys and loopholes to protect their capital. As for moving all of their money offshore, good riddance.25 RecommendART Boston Jan. 6
@hammond Paul Krugman has written about the "Europe was Rubble" myth - the idea that the unprecedented creation of a large and prosperous U.S. middle class, was only possible because of those special conditions. https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/the-europe-in-rubble-excuse / Here it is about tax policy, but it is also brought up as an excuse not to try policy responses to high unemployment, low wages, etc. In addition to PK's arguments: First, the whole idea that we had faster growth due to having had trade *surpluses*, doesn't make sense. Those surpluses actually required *more* output - not less. So, in theory, if Europe had *not* been rubble (dubious, as PK points out), US growth should have been *higher*. OK, that is all based on theoretical supply side constraints. But what about Demand? OK, now you have something. The trade surpluses increased demand (AD = C+I+G+(X-M). It is long past time to start talking about aggregate demand, and how that has been creating a dysfunctional economy. Also, how destruction of the New Deal, has allowed wages to stagnate, which has given us lots of low productivity jobs at low pay, reducing productivity growth through compositional effects - but more importantly, making US poorer, less efficient, and with less job satisfaction. Workers can tell when their job is really not valued. Finally, if indeed making low skilled US workers compete with foreign starvation wages is a problem, we need to acknowledge and fix that.25 RecommendCitizen RI Jan. 5
One of the biggest myths out there is the one in which an individual says "I did it all on my own". The truth is, no you did not. You had an education, passed down from other generations that made discoveries, you had paved roads, police and fireman, an educated workforce, safe food to eat, clean water to drink. All things paid for by everyone. We should have high taxes that are progressive. People use the misnomer, "The Government" to try and discredit as others the people charging the taxes. But come on people, stop being stupid. Our constitution says "Government by the people for the people". We are our government. Anyone of you, or I, can run for office. Enough of this fake individualism conservative fairy tale. We need to work together in order to build a more just and perfect society.25 RecommendRational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Jan. 7
You can put all the charts and graphs you want in front of people, provide all the historical evidence available, and provide evidence of how things have never and are not now working the way Republicans say it has or will, and they still will refuse to believe their lying eyes. The Republican experiment to fleece the middle and lower classes is ongoing and successful, in part supported by the middle and lower classes' willful blind ignorance and devotion to self flagellation.Reply 25 RecommendKenneth Johnson Pennsylvania Jan. 5
Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to ¥315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make $10,000,000 or more! Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much??? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10,000,000 pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1,000,000,000 to $1,400,000,000 in reduced taxes. See how it works? Forget about the 1%! Go after the .1%!!!Reply 25 RecommendYW New York, NY Jan. 6
As an affluent retired person, I left New Jersey for Texas, where I'm originally from. With 'an optimal tax rate of 73%', I'll be leaving the USA. I can still spend 182 days a year here. Let them tax those affluent people who must remain behind. As Margaret Thatcher said: 'The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money'. Or am I missing something here?25 RecommendMarvant Duhon Bloomington Indiana Jan. 5
Love the fact that the article is punctuated by a slick advertisement pushing sales of $13 million co-ops. Does Krugman think that high-earning W-2 taxpayers will continue living in New York City, or even the US, when rates are 70-80%? France tried this just a few years ago; it was an instant failure resulting in a quick exodus of the country's largest taxpayers. Krugman is living in the fifties. We are now a globalized economy where capital and human resources are far more mobile.24 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 7
I will quibble with one small and tangential claim in this article. Krugman writes that additional taxes on the very rich will not affect their life satisfaction, since they can still buy what they want. This is not always the case. Many of the very wealthy want to buy more things than they can afford. And some, not just the Koch family, want to buy the government. They pour billions into the attempt. And as it happens, that's another reason for increasing the marginal tax rate on the very rich.Reply 24 RecommendLisa NC Jan. 6
Why not tax labor lower than capital gains? Labor will have more incentive to work because they can keep more of what they earn. People who live off capital will just keep doing what they are doing. I doubt they'll rush out to get W-2 jobs. We're tried the reverse for long enough, let's flip it around and give the majority their turn.Reply 24 Recommendjoyce santa fe Jan. 5
As a recent retiree, I was surprised to learn that my husband and I wouldn't be paying any taxes on our substantial capital gains, dividends, and interest, as long as we kept below the ~ 77,000 income level. We're living on current cash and taxable accounts, and are fortunate not to need to sign up for SS until 70 1/2 nor pull from our retirement accounts (except to fill up the bracket). This is basically ridiculous. We're affluent, not Uber-wealthy, but certainly can afford to pay more than the piddling amount that we've paid the last couple of years.24 Recommendmt Portland OR Jan. 6
A country where taxes are basically fair and social programs give people, all of them, basic security, is a calm and efficiently working society that does not have regular massacres in schools and churches, and does not have a restless and frustrated public. and so on. there is a country like this next door. The contrast with the disfunctional US today is striking.Reply 24 Recommendttrumbo Fayetteville, Ark. Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Excellent comment. A keeper.24 RecommendSocrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 6
Equality. That is a necessary component of civilized society and democracy. You have to have a certain level of equality. Freedom to become a billionaire is not good for America or any country. Community, compassion, belonging, love, equality. Not selfish riches.24 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@Jay For the full context, the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act was authored by three Randian Republicans from Republican-majority Senate and House. While Bill Clinton should not have signed it, Republicans authored it. In April 2003 - under the Bush Reign of Error - the attorneys general of two states went to Washington with a stern warning for the nation's top bank regulator. In the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Wash DC, the AGs from North Carolina and Iowa said lenders were pushing increasingly risky mortgages. Their host, John Hawke, expressed skepticism. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Tom Miller of Iowa headed a committee of state officials concerned about new forms of "predatory" lending. They urged Hawke to give states more latitude to limit exorbitant interest rates and fine-print fees. "People out there are struggling with oppressive loans," Cooper recalls saying. Hawke, a veteran banking industry lawyer appointed to head the OCC by Bill Clinton in 1998, wouldn't budge. He said he would reinforce federal policies that hindered states from reining in lenders. The AGs left the tense hour-long meeting realizing that Bush-Cheney's Washington had become a foe in the fight against reckless real estate finance. The OCC "took 50 sheriffs off the job during the time the mortgage lending industry was becoming the Wild West," Cooper says. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27121535/ns/business-us_business/t/states-warned-about-impending-mortgage-crisis /24 RecommendDeb Blue Ridge Mtns. Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich never work for the poor. The relatively poor work for the rich, after which the rich complain that they are being asked to pay taxes for services for the people they underpay.24 Recommendalan san francisco, ca Jan. 5
@vulcanalex - Did it ever occur to you that if Charles and David Koch, together worth upwards of 90 BILLION, paid taxes proportionally the same as you do now, your taxes might be lower? The middle class has been footing the bill for 50 yrs. and needs actual relief. No one, no one, no one needs 90 Billion $$. That's pure greed and it's economically stupid as well.23 RecommendJohn McCoy Washington, DC Jan. 7
One should tax every source of income at the same rates. Thus, incomve from dividends, capital gains, and inheritances should all be taxed at the higher rates. The distinction between earned and passive income is false and makes no difference to the recipient.23 RecommendJack Irvine, CA Jan. 5
@Gwe A true win-win. Pay the CEO's excessively to satisfy their egos and tax them appropriately to foster equality.23 RecommendSusan Fitzwater Ambler, PA Jan. 6
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 took away: SALT deductions (limited $10,000 fout of $19,883)) Personal exemptions ($12,150) Unreimbursed business expenses ($9,906). This increased my TAXABLE INCOME by + $32,209. Sure, marginal rate dropped from 24% to 22%, but my Federal tax INCREASE this year was $7,085 or 71%. MAGA!23 RecommendErik Nordheim Seattle Jan. 6
Some scattered thoughts. Bear with me. I just got back from an Orthodox Jewish wedding (a lovely experience!). While there, I fell into conversation with a good friend--a conservative. A moderate conservative--but conservative nonetheless. A dichotomy struck me--which I kept to myself. My friend's view of "classical liberalism" was "limited government." Enable people to rise as far as their talents and determination take them. And get out of the way. Such (he declared) was the philosophy of our sixteenth President--the sainted Lincoln. The Civil War (he said) garnished him with a bright shining halo he might never have achieved otherwise. Okay--maybe so. Maybe not. Who knows? So what's my own philosophy? Which I never got around to articulating. Protection, Mr. Krugman. Protection. Protection of an oppressed minority from an oppressive majority. OR-- --of an oppressed majority from an oppressive minority. Protection of the weak from the strong. Of the poor from the rich. Of the honorably striving working people that never won a place in the heart--or the books--of that conservative icon, Ayn Rand. So, Mr. Krugman-- --I read your piece with considerable sympathy. Tax the rich? Sounds good to me. Even out the horrendous inequality now plaguing and poisoning American life. But part of this feeling, Mr. Krugman, is old-fashioned SPITE. Sorry! I'd love to hear the Koch brothers howl. Someday. Soon.Reply 23 Recommendjames jordan Falls church, Va Jan. 5
@Gwe AOC's 70% tax rate proposal applies to dollars earns $10,000,001 and above. E.g. 70¢ on that one dollar instead of today's 37¢.23 RecommendSN Los Angeles Jan. 7
AOC has her work cut out for her. She will need your help. In reality, she will need all the support she can get to persuade the Democratic Caucus that a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes makes sense. Clearly, she and many noted highly respected economists have found that the trend in inequality has not been beneficial to the performance of the larger U.S. economy. She appears to have the energy and intelligence to develop a narrative that the Caucus could use but ultimately she and the proponents of the 70-80% will not hurt their chances for re-election in 2020. Equally important in making our society more egalitarian are the issue of tax shelters and the definition of income in the tax code, e.g. the treatment of income from capital gains vs. income from salaries and wages. My very rich friends seem to load a large portion of the "winnings" in offshore shelters. A big difference that needs to be addressed is the "cap" on payroll tax rates that are clearly unfair to the average wage-earning employee, and the self-employed "gig" economy worker. I hope someone will take up this very unfair provision. I suggest that requiring ALL income be treated equally with NO CAP for the FICA-HI payroll deduction would make the Social Security Trust Fund flush and possibly the funds required for Medicare for All a reality. With this kind of payroll tax package, there is a possibility that the payroll tax rate could be reduced or payments to recipients increased.23 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
@Joe, it appears you're confusing the marginal tax rate (the rate at which your highest additional dollar of income is taxed) with the overall rate at which your income is taxed. They're not the same. People won't be paying the highest rates except on their highest additional dollars of income -- those last several million dollars, for example.23 RecommendBewley5 Austin Jan. 7
What needs to be pointed out in every article on tax rates is that the 70% or 35% or whatever rate is in force is not on ones entire income, but only on the topmost part. It might only be on the top 10% of an individuals income, not on the entire amount. That is where people who oppose these rates don't get it. And when the "alternative minimum tax" was passed, it was meant to make sure everyone paid some tax because they weren't allowed to use all of they deductions. But somehow, some are more privileged than others and get to pay nothing, like the Trumps and Kushner's. In the meantime, some of us retirees who saved like crazy for retirement and had some decent investments have to pay through the nose every year when the law requires us to sell a certain portion of our retirement funds and pay capital gains rates. We have paid alternative minimum tax for years with far less annual income per year than Ivanka has per month.23 RecommendRoscoe Fort Myers, FL Jan. 7
The decline of the American middle class started with the election of Reagan and his voodoo economics. The investments we made say in college education could no longer be sustained at the lower tax rate and the result? No one but the upper ten percent can afford college.23 RecommendJeremy Kaplan Brooklyn Jan. 7
The other intended consequence of low taxes for the rich has been the accumulation of money that can be used to buy political power. I think that's the real purpose of the right, to have the power to take over our country. To counter that we need to look at wealth taxes and taxing more capital gains. We don't need more Donald Trumps and Koch brothers.23 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Just because 70% sounds "insane" to you does not mean it isn't the best policy. Are you an economist?23 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 6
Bravo to Ocasio-Cortez, and to Krugman. But what I'd like to know is why is it that such sensible and fair taxing policies have not been promoted by current Democratic members of Congress? To answer my own question - they've been "bought" by corporate/1% campaign contributions. This said, how will Ms. Ocasio-Cortez fare in the House? Conversely, how will the House fare with her in it? Should be interesting to watch.Reply 23 RecommendBill B Fulton, MD Jan. 7
We need a "Jobs Created" form in the 1040 stack. In exchange for the tax cut, the very wealthy should be required to file it for the same reason that the very poor are required to prove they qualify for the Earned Income Credit. How many jobs did you create? How much were they worth? Write it down. Some ridiculously rich American volunteer should step forward with the last 10 years of their tax returns and corespondingly matched annual budgets to confirm 2 things that the GOP refuses to admit but uses to underpin tax cuts for people who do not need one: 1-The Uber Wealthy aren't big job creators. 2-The impact they have on the economy is far less than the average person who spends all their tax cut on goods and services. A higher tax rate, better matched with uber high personal income generated by the global multiplier effect, will have a greater impact on the economy in one year that one person can achieve in a lifetime. Kill the Trickle Down Theory before the GOP recycles it again.22 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 6
@romanette I suspect that for every Jason who actually makes enough to pay the 73% marginal rate there are 50 Jason's that don't.22 RecommendVizitei Missouri Jan. 6
@Geoffrey, you're mythologizing wealth. Most annual income over $10 million has nothing to do with being "super productive." That's only true in an Ayn Rand novel.22 RecommendChris Toronto Jan. 7
I am fully aligned with Mr. Krugman when he bashes the idiocy of Trump's economic "policies". I part ways with him over his advocacy of super high tax rates. He makes a case that we did so well when we had it but he, of all people, knows the difference between correlation and causation. In the years without internet and with international movement by people and companies was full of friction, this kind of extortion and "not caring" about what the "rich" thought held up. In today's world, you would massive exodus of the most productive and economically active members of our society. It failed. In Europe and in the US, countries had to contend with real competition from other geographies who were only too happy to welcome these folks. Another point, which Mr. Krugman fails to address is this: who will put the capital in question to a more productive use - the government which collected it as a tax or the businessman who has an opportunity to invest in the improvement he finds most efficient and effective? This does argue for policies that encourage the 'right choice", but overall, the answer is known. This is why every true socialist system has failed economically, and will continue to do so. 70% tax bracket is not the answer. It never was.Reply 22 Recommendlinearspace Italy Jan. 7
Many of the comments here are dismaying. The point here is that both the US economy and society are not sustainable in the long-term with a tax system that creates massive inequality, public debt and disproportionately supports the enrichment of the already-wealthy. There is a self-centred, growing (mostly Republican) billionaires club buying the political system, defining public policy and not surprisingly they are the primary beneficiaries. US democracy is very broken and the rest of the world no longer views it as the example it once was. The US needs more voices like OAC's.Reply 22 Recommendpendragn52 South Florida Jan. 7
I thought I already liked AOC a lot; now I like her even more, especially after her political platform about a free universal health care reform proper of one of the major powers in the world.22 RecommendJacob Sommer Medford, MA Jan. 6
@Jason "apply some creativity and critical thinking (you know - the kind that happens in the private sector)." Worked in the private sector for 30 years. Never saw much of that.22 RecommendKurt Chicago Jan. 7
So often, it seems like the Republicn tax plan is, "We need to lower taxes on the rich because eventually it will be good for the middle class! Pay no attention to that sliver of middle class tax hike behind the curtain..." Why anybody takes their economic rhetoric seriously when there are no credible cases that their plans have worked lo these past 40 years remains a mystery to me.22 RecommendD I Francis London Jan. 7
The real crime is how much of the pie so few take home in the first place and how little the great bulk of Americans see. If there were a small village, and one powerful man making the rules on wealth distribution decided to give himself a ninety percent cut of the wealth and leave the remaining ten percent to the rest of the townsfolk, they'd go after him with torches and pitchforks. But we have a giant complicated impersonal economy, and this simple economic injustice gets lost and confused in the mix. But the fact remains, the people with power - the stewards of our government and our economy - are abusing their power, and we as individuals, and all of us as a society suffer greatly.22 Recommendmarkymark Lafayette, CA Jan. 5
@Joe Hi, It would be progressive and banded, so you would only pay 70% on the very highest part of your earnings. So you would be paying 30% on earnings up to say 100K, then 40% on earnings between 100K and 250K, and so on. Hope this helps.22 RecommendQuinn New Providence, NJ Jan. 5
If this country ever aspires to greatness again, it will take campaign finance reform and the end to vulture capitalism, including raising tax rates on wealthy individuals and corporations. The supreme court has given corporations way too much power and it's past time to take it back.22 RecommendMary M Raleigh Jan. 6
@Brinton I agree - a fair tax system would look at all income equally. A dollar of income would be treated the same regardless of its source. The discount on capital gains makes no economic sense - this is "picking winners and losers", something the GOP hates. Think of this: why is interest income taken at a higher rate than capital gains? The wrong answer is that the capital gain came from taking a higher risk. Why does the tax law reward risk taking and by contrast punish safer investing with a higher tax rate?22 Recommenddcf nyc Jan. 5
Thomas Picketty studied centuries of income inequality and found that without progressive government intervention, wealth disparities tend to worsen. The single most effective way to shrink wealth disparities and grow the middle class is through progressive taxation, aka, soak the rich. This is how Denmark does it. Funny thing, growing the middle class increases national happiness and strengthens a sense of community. Big difference from the uber rich who buy islands just to live without neighbors. Living in a more equitable society makes everyone happier.22 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Tom Dr. K is all in on the taxing of wealth and cap gains at higher rates, and while I haven't read AOC's particular proposals yet, no doubt she would agree.21 RecommendM. Ng New York, NY Jan. 7
@Annie I'm not sure a small local community group would effectively or efficiently provide some of the things we rely on the government to provide -- healthcare coverage for instance (at least here in Canada) or a police force. Those skeptical of what government does should try living in a country without musth government: Somalia, maybe.21 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
We only need to look as far back as Kansas in 2012 to see a real life case study of republican tax policy in all its theoretical glory. Governor Brownback and the republican legislature passed into law a low individual income tax rate and eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities (ie small businesses) to spur job creation and investment in businesses. Not only did it not create said jobs nor spur investment in businesses, the state collected $750mm less in income tax ($2.2b vs. $2.9b) over 2014-16 and the state began FY 2017 with a $350mm deficit. Sadly the people who suffered disproportionately were residents of small towns and districts whose districts didn't have strong enough balance sheets to weather unusually low levels of tax revenue, where public services such as safety and schools struggled (many of which had to consider closing or consolidating). In addition, the state diverted funds from infrastructure spending and universities to the general fund and spend down the state's cash reserves. That is the result of a republican tax plan enacted.Reply 21 RecommendJenna X. Gadflye Atlanta, GA Jan. 6
@bcw And the exact same also goes for Trump himself, of course. Compare that to what Obama and the Democrats did: they increased taxes for people like themselves multiple times, and then used that money to cover 20 million more Americans all while curbing federal healthcare cost increases, AND by doing so saving an additional half a million American lives a decade. THAT is "putting America first", outside of the GOP "alternative facts" world.21 RecommendCO fan Boulder Jan. 6
Another reason to tax the 1% at the highest rate possible: they would have considerably less money to spend on buying politicians who will rig the system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. I'm sure NYT's conservative commenters will say "but...job creators!" Right. "Job creators" who are rapidly automating the means of production because robots don't need to be paid a living wage. They never get sick or need vacations, either. Robots can work 24/7 without lunch or or bathroom breaks, too. Unlike us pesky peasants with our quaint notions about Constitutional and civil rights, including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The misanthropic rich deserve a good soaking, every now and then, to remind them that they're no better than us and just as human as we are.Reply 21 RecommendJ San Diego Jan. 6
What Paul Krugman does not say (but knows all too well) is that due to various deductions and tax shelters, the effective (as opposed to nominal) % of income paid in the 50's, 60's and 70's was not much more than now. For example, until 1986 taxpayers were allowed to exclude 1/2 of their capital gains. So, if you were in a 70% tax bracket, the capital gains tax was 35%, in the 50% bracket you paid 25% and so on. Krugman knows this, but obviously does not mention it. He has to do his part to bamboozle the rubes. Remember, this is the same guy who predicted on election night 2016, that the stock market would "never recover".21 RecommendMV CC Jan. 5
AOC should run for president in 2028, the first year she is eligible. She's smart and super-attractive, which will turn R's into even crazier people than they are now, because people will always vote for someone who looks great. Would've worked for Beto in Texas if not for the massive voter suppression they have there.Reply 21 RecommendAndrew Connecticut Jan. 7
What we have going on right now here in the US is representation WITHOUT taxation.Reply 21 RecommendDave Westwood Jan. 6
@Billy Walker - "What policy on Planet Earth could possibly justify the government becoming an equal partner, or better, with someone's earnings?" Because there isn't a single person on the planet that works hard enough to "earn" $10 million per year, let alone those who actually have that as an income. There's comes a point at which a person's "earnings" are nothing more than benefits of position - which in and of itself isn't a problem. But it's important to acknowledge that this extra income is earned solely because of the individuals below them, as well as the advantages the state/government has provided to allow those earnings (typically through infrastructure, policies, protections, other indirect features, etc.), becoming an equal partner in redistributing that extra income to those that actually worked to make it happen, or paid for the ability to earn it, is reasonable.21 RecommendJohn Miami, FL Jan. 7
@Jose "aren't rich people part of our democracy? Don't they get a say as to whether they have to work and give away their earnings?" They do ... they get one vote person just like everyone else. They do not get one vote per dollar of income, although some of them act as if they should.21 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
@Billy Walker "As someone who earns well less than $100k a year I simply cannot believe this nonsense of 70 or 80% tax rates. Just because I am not smart enough to earn $5 or $10 million or more a year does not give the government the right to take most of it. This tax concept is pure insanity. Even if it applies to earnings that only exceed the $10 mil number. Insane." You start out with the wrong premise right out of the gate. Many in the top 1-2% have done nothing especially noteworthy to achieve their wealth. They neither earned nor were particularly inventive. Some like Elon Musk definitely earned it. Others like the presidents children just inherited the fruits of a lifetime of cons and scams against ordinary working Americans. In either case there is a such a thing as an inflection point beyond which amassing further wealth means nothing. I see nothing wrong with taxing wealth beyond that critical maximum at those higher rates. After all many of those people enjoy the fruits and stability of a society made possible by the collective sacrifices of generations of Americans in wars past, present, and future. Much of the infrastructure (bridges, highways, waterways, court systems, property rights etc) that exists today (such as it is) that makes the current economic engine possible was bought and paid for by the millions upon millions of ordinary working Americans. The rich should pay more because they benefit the most from this sacrifices others have made!21 Recommendm.waterbury Seattle Washington Jan. 5
@George No one is suggesting people who make $200k pay 70% tax, these are rates for those making $10 million or more.21 RecommendRobert Out West Jan. 6
@Georgia M If you believe that the obscenely high and ever-rising incomes of the extremely rich are "their property" and that their rigging of our economy, our taxation rules, and our political process played no role in their good fortune, you have not been paying attention. A "young brilliant doctor" isn't even remotely in the class of the ultra-rich and is exactly the kind of misleading example they love to point at, like "small businessmen." We are talking billionaires and close to it.21 RecommendRich Berkeley CA Jan. 5
I can see why the righties are angry, and demanding that the corporate and the wealthy pay less. After all, worked great in Kansas.Reply 21 Recommendbcw Yorktown Jan. 5
@Peter, that's a marginal tax rate, not the rate on all your income. Only income above, say, $1M per year would be taxed that high. I assume most people can survive quite well on $1M per year, plus 30% of amounts above that.21 RecommendDavid St Louis Jan. 6
The rich have figured out how to maximize their returns on investment - the most productive dollars the rich spend is to buy Republican (and some Democratic) politicians. The Koch brothers invested a mere few hundred million to buy some elections and have so far made about 1.4 billion dollars from the Republican tax cut, a return of a few hundred percent in one year; which will continue every year going forward.21 RecommendABC123 USA Jan. 5
Hey, Prof Paul. I think we as a body politic need a refresher on what a marginal tax rate is? A 70% top marginal tax rate does not mean that the people 'earning' a million only take home 300K. It just means that after some other threshold has been crossed in terms of income after deductions, income above that level is taxed at increasingly higher levels. So that, say, the first 100k is taxed at a certain level (n), but the last 100k is taxed at a level that equals 'n minus 100K' and minus the other increments in income that kick in the higher marginal rates on the scale? Not elegantly stated, I know, but I find, over and over again, that people seem to not have been taught the difference between a tax rate and marginal tax rate.Reply 20 RecommendSusan Cambridge Jan. 7
From the article: "AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." This shows her naivete as a young person with limited years of working for a paycheck. At a certain point, if I'm only going to keep 20-30-cents of each additional dollar I'm making no thanks time to pack up for the day, go home, relax and enjoy time with my family. I think at least 95% of people would say the same thing. It's just not worth it especially to be paying for people who are staying home and people who are staying home and pumping out more and more babies, while I responsibly only brought two children into the world and pay for them myself.20 RecommendKevin Shoemaker Seattle, WA Jan. 7
The Swiss have a wealth tax. People are taxed approximately 1% for money lying around in bank accounts and other assets. This means taxes aren't focused on income per se, but accumulated wealth. I think it's an interesting idea for taxing the super wealthy. The tax could be prorated, higher for those with more money and very low for those with just a little savings.20 RecommendGuy Sajer Boston, MA Jan. 5
What this incredibly focused and accurate opinion piece does not mention is the uses that marginal taxes were put to or the incentives people and companies had to lower their marginal taxes through reinvestment. Infrastructure was created, low cost higher public education was expanded, basic research in those institutions was greater, and entire new industries were created, employees were invested in. Now, we have the rich playing the W.S. casino, mostly controlled by bots, employees are commodities or apprenticed and indebted, wages are supressed, there is not a strong infrastucture plan, I could go on. I say Make America Great Again, and tax the rich.Reply 20 Recommendcdearman Santa Fe, NM Jan. 5
@wes evans - I don't think that that is actually true. Furthermore, I'm not sure that the folks who do that work and are in that tax bracket are working because of the money. Jeff Bezos? Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? (the list could be quite long). If you taxed them at a higher rate, they wouldn't quit. In addition, many of those folks are no longer actually working, but simply accruing wealth though investments. They won't suddenly uninvest because of higher taxes. Instead, we'd have better schools, better healthcare, better transportation for everyone, and the economy would benefit much more as a result.20 RecommendA. Stanton Dallas, TX Jan. 6
Obviously, the public is unaware that the tax rate during the Eisenhower Administration, for people making above $400,000, was 90%. So, the idea that a 75% rate on the 0.1% is excessive is laughable. People in the 0.1% have many legal ways to reduce their tax liability. As Warren Buffet had stated many time, he pays less taxes that his secretary and Buffet is one of the four richest people in the world. The tax rate for people in his income bracket is not more than 39%. He, obviously, does not pay taxes at that level. Go figure.20 RecommendWilliam LeGro Oregon Jan. 7
Ms. AOC comes off to me as a non-threatening American Congresswoman of Puerto-Rican descent. What is it about her that makes her appear so dangerous to Trump's crazed male supporters? I blame most of it on her bright red lipstick, which for some reason is always threatening to insecure men.20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
@Freda Pine Here's an early commenter who already detailed this out and should have gotten NYT Picked since a lot of readers needed to read it in order to help shake loose a stuck wrong notion about what marginal rate means: Rational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to $315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make over $10M. Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10M pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1 - $1.4 Billion in reduced taxes.20 RecommendTony B NY, NY Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, How many uber rich like Romney or wealthy CEOs or golf club developers actually worked for poor people? Gee, that's a tough one. Let me make it easy for you. Try zero. I am not wealthy and yet I never worked for a poor person in my life either, because a poor person would not have had sufficient money to pay even my meager earnings. When you work and pay taxes, you are not working for the poor, you are working taxes to support this country, and the many things it does for you. Remind me again how many of Romney's many sons enlisted. Another toughie. Again, let me make it easy for you. The answer is zero. Oh, that's right. Their "service to their country" consisted of helping Romney get elected. Kind of like Trump's sons service to their country. Or Trump's purple heart.20 RecommendNed Roberts Truckee Jan. 6
We're allowed to call people articulate?!? I thought that was a hate crime.Reply 20 RecommendMichael Rochester, NY Jan. 5
@talesofgenji Americans abroad are still required to file US tax statements. Of course, if they want to get rid of their US citizenship, they can. My guess is there is a way to capture that tax revenue. Perhaps starting with reminding the rich that they live in a society, and their wealth is tied to the health of the society.20 RecommendGaff New York Jan. 6
Paul, One of your best analyzes ever, and, your timing is impeccable. Thank you.Reply 20 RecommendDaycd San diego Jan. 7
Why are so many dead set against paying taxes? To use an old cliche "there is no such thing as a free lunch". This is how government services are paid for. Where would we be without government services? Are you willing to do without police, firemen, road crews, sanitation, the armed forces, aviation regulators, stop signs, parks and countless other things that government provides. Tax rates need to take into account income. The poor and the middle class should be taxed at a much lower rate than the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to have more taken in taxes. Do you really think they would notice? Greed is not an exemption. We should all be proud to pay our fair share of taxes. We live in a great country. Taxes are the levy we pay to keep it great.20 RecommendJosh Los Angeles Jan. 5
@Gwe the proposed 70% tax rate only kicks in after the executives are already earning 180X more than the average earner. Note that no other country comes closes to those inflated incomes! So your argument that they'll not get quality CEO's for less is nonsensical. https://www.statista.com/statistics/424159/pay-gap-between-ceos-and-average-workers-in-world-by-country /20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
Hey Paul why don't we just tax everyone at 100% and then redistribute to everyone perfectly equally? That would minimize the effect of diminishing marginal utility!! Hey Paul when are you going to wake up? Stagflation happened your position has been losing the argument for 40 years now, I am surprised you aren't used to it by now. Free movement of capital, free movement of labor, free trade. And no redistribution, that is where we are heading.19 RecommendJeong Yeob Kim Los Angeles Jan. 5
@jrinsc Too right. Let's make American marginal income tax rates great again! Bring back Eisenhower Republican tax rates!19 RecommendEddie Lew NYC Jan. 6
When I first saw AOC's tax proposal as a headline (and not reading the article), I did think, "Wow, that's too high!" But after thinking through the issue with Krugman's help, I've come around and now agree with AOC. I do think it'll be a tough sell to a sceptical public (surely made worse by conservative lobbying), but if Democrats can tune the public with what prosperity was like in the '50 with progressive taxes in place, I think there's a good chance that a majority of Americans will back this vision. But the work had to start now and with urgency (and without the shutdown of our government!).Reply 19 Recommendtrue patriot earth Jan. 6
George Bernard Shaw: "The more I see of the moneyed class, the more I understand the guillotine. "19 RecommendJon Washington DC Jan. 6
1. end the carry exemption for VC money 2. see 1Reply 19 RecommendBascom Hill Bay Area Jan. 5
There's this popular myth that supposedly tons of conservatives went "hysterical" over a perfectly innocent video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing around with friends. How many people exactly were "hysterical"? I keep reading this, and as far as I can tell it's just a myth. Was there maybe one fool who posted the video in a misguided attempt to somehow embarrass her? I guess, probably. But please just face reality and recognize that beyond a few negligible cranks, nobody cares.Reply 19 RecommendMark Koerner wisconsin Jan. 6
Please make a list of productive Americans by job title. Or is your list by income level? Are public school teachers productive? If so, why have their incomes been nearly flat for decades? Why has the median income of Americans not kept pace with inflation for over 25 years? They haven't been productive? They have been. Big Business hasn't shared those gains in productivity via $wages. The IBT of those businesses has soared.19 RecommendNelson Alexander New York Jan. 5
We hear a lot about "hard-earned" income and "hard-earned" dollars. Very well. It IS hard to earn money, at least for most people, so perhaps the government shouldn't tax income from wages, salaries and professional fees--and even from gambling--at such a high rate. Maybe we should change the system by pushing the top income tax rate downward and then raising the estate tax (often called the "inheritance tax"). That way, more "hard-earned" money will stay with the taxpayers who earned it, and the government would take a little more of the genuinely unearned money. An old saying about the people who were born on third base and thought they hit a triple comes to mindReply 19 RecommendR Biggs Boston Jan. 7
First, I believe Picketty also recommends similar highly progressive rates. Second, I'd be curious know what effect such rates would have on top-tier inflation? It seems clear that "inflation" is relatively low and stable because it no longer enters into wages. At the upper income level, meanwhile, inflation appears rampant. Everything in top-tier consumption, from art and high-end property to financial advice, bespoke suits, opera tickets, luxury hotels, political leverage, and legal fees, seems to be almost hyperinflating. This in turn drives the rivalrous demand for even more concentrated wealth at the top, a keep-up-with-the-Jones among billionaires . We might be doing the rich a favor by putting a tax chill on their metastasizing lifestyles.19 RecommendJack Nargundkar Germantown, Maryland Jan. 5
I assume that you work hard to make a living. Do you think that investment bankers and tech CEOs work 5000 times harder than you? I know a guy who wrote a computer program to trade stocks. He doesn't work at all, but makes more in a week than you make all year. Does that seem fair? The super-rich are able to buy influence, subjugate our democratic system, and push through laws that make them even richer - while making it harder for folks like you to get ahead. Does that seem fair? And you are worried about billionaires only bringing home $2 million / year?19 RecommendGeorgia M Canada Jan. 5
But this entire column presumes that the Republicans believe in science, data and facts. Despite 70+ years of evidence, knowledge and truth has not "trickled down" into the average Republican's mind. In fact, in the Trump era, it's gotten worse -- Republicans now believe in "alternative facts," which they make up to match whatever it is that they want to justify, and they assert that "truth isn't the truth." So good luck to OAC as she tries to convince Republicans about the efficacy of "a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." Republicans, including the Trump administration, do believe that the 1950s was the best decade ever in the post-WWII era – not because of its 91% top tax rate on income, but for entirely different reasons that have nothing to do with fiscal policy.Reply 19 RecommendJoe Rockbottom califonria Jan. 7
I'm your average democratic socialist living north of your country and, yet I confess this article doesn't sit right with me. I enjoy reading Mr Krugman and I will read him first in your paper. What irks me though is his yup yup it's okay to soak the rich because it makes economic sense. Even if you could prove that taxing the rich at 75% won't harm economy, should you do it? That is to say, the wealth of the rich is their property. Just like my meagre possessions are my property. As a Canadian I pay around 29% income taxes (even working class Canadians pay a fair amount of tax). Wealthier Canadians pay around 55% of their income. We are fortunate that wealthy people feel invested in the community here and tolerate the higher taxes. The well-being of our public services is dependent on all people feeling they get something in return for their tax dollars. I guess what I am getting at is that there is a sort of social contract that all citizens are invested in-poor and rich. I recently spoke to a young brilliant doctor and asked if he wanted to move to the US (he has had some great offers). He said no, he wants to use his skills in the community. I am grateful this young man will work and contribute here. So, why increase his tax level even further? Saying that he has the money for the taking is not acceptable. I wish Ms Ocasio Cortez luck, but I hope these young socialists reign in the glee at the prospect of fleecing their fellow citizens.19 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Billy Walker they don't take "most of it." they only take that rate in the highest income percentile. So only the last marginal dollars earned. It is doubtful ANY CEO is worth the pay they get. and most of it is in stock options, the proceeds of which are not even discussed here because they are capital gains, not income. So, most CEO's only make a few hundred thousand in "income" and the rest is in stock options for which they are taxed at a much, much lower rate. That is how skewed our idiotic tax system is. They game it and don't even have to count their obvious income as actual income. Totally corrupt.19 RecommendTom Philadelphia Jan. 5
While there's no denying that many of the wealthy achieve success by their talent and hard work, no one becomes wealthy solely on his or her own. Chance always plays a role in anyone's success, and no one's success is achieved without extensive support from our society's institutions and from others. The success of any individual is therefore always a collective success -- created by a combination of the individual's own talents, the support of others, the advantages provided by our society, and the vagaries of chance. Because of this it is completely justified to expect -- and to demand if necessary -- that the wealthy give back some portion of their wealth to the community that contributes so much to their ability to become wealthy. Whether the share given back is 20%, 50%, or 80% should be determined based on two factors: first, how much does society need from the wealthy to continue to provide an environment in which as many as possible can succeed and, second, how important is it to maintain individually-held concentrations of wealth either to provide incentives for success or to allow for significant private expenditures and investment to complement our public expenditures and investment. While a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy sounds high given recent policy, the crumbling state of our public infrastructure, our fraying social safety net, and the growing inequities in access to the benefits of our society suggest a need for higher tax rates.19 RecommendJH NY Jan. 5
In 1960 when Eisenhower was president, the top marginal tax rate in the US was 93 percent, we were building interstate highways and quadrupling our higher education system via the GI bill, and the American economy was the envy of the world. So this notion that the country is better off if the rich don't pay taxes utterly ludicrous -- it is simply the invention of rich people who think they deserve to live tax-free. Since our democracy is broken and the rich basically own Congress, we will probably keep cutting taxes on rich people until they go negative, at which point American taxpayers will be paying the rich just for their overwhelming wonderfulness.19 RecommendGG New Windsor Jan. 7
As a small retail business owner I am continuously flabbergasted by chamber of commerce type's resistance to taxing the rich and increasing the minimum wage. My customers are NOT the 1% and every time wages have gone up my payroll has gone up 20% but my gross income has also increased by 20%. That is a good deal, and if my income taxes went up as a result of all my increased profit it would still be a good deal.19 RecommendBJ New York City Jan. 6
@Freda Pine here we go again. What do you not understand that this is likely a tax rate on those who make millions annually?19 Recommendbobg earth Jan. 5
Shouldn't we be talking about effective tax rates? Did people actually pay those high marginal rates? Given all the tax loopholes at the time, I don't think so.Reply 19 RecommendGrennan Green Bay Jan. 7
@Josh I have an even better idea--let's tax everyone at 0%! We'll all have lotsa money and we'll have a great big party. There are some downsides like not having an electricity grid, police, or firemen but on the other hand--whoopee!19 RecommendTom Kocis Austin Jan. 7
Good job making taxation policy interesting to read about. Maybe Dr. Krugman could clarify why and how the "taxes are bad" crowd insists on misrepresenting the marginal rate as the total rate, among other inaccuracies in a four-decade campaign to demonize taxation.19 RecommendProf San Diego Jan. 5
We need to assess the question of wether many of the rich "earn" money. You don't earn $200M in stock options and grants. What you have done is benefitted from a system that increasing rewards those with the power and the influence to rewrite the rules to their benefit and the the detriment of everyone else. How these people can take such a large portion of the corporate pie when lower paid employees barely get by is unconscionable.Reply 19 RecommendFromDublin Dublin, Ireland Jan. 6
Here are some facts Krugman will not mention. From 2014 At least 45% of Americans pay ZERO Federal income tax. The top 1 percent of taxpayers earned 20% of all Adjusted Gross Income. That same top 1% of taxpayers paid almost 40% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90% collected. One-fifth of the US population gets more back in refunds than they pay in Federal taxes. Keep doing the Robin Hood routine and the 1%' ers will move ALL of their money off shore.19 RecommendRG Bellevue, WA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel This last paragraph... so so true19 RecommendDisillusioned Colorado Jan. 5
@Ma Ah, yes - the wisdom of simplistic remarks. Unfortunately it takes actual information and insight to even begin to compete with an economist of Krugman's expertise. You seem to be confused about what profit is, or the theory used in optimization of profit (incremental spending). You absolutely want to spend up to the point where the next dollar brings in another dollar of profit but not beyond. Spending less leaves money (profit) on the table. Could it be that you don't understand calculus? I'm afraid that economics, and incremental tax rates are a bit more complex than that. Your dig about social conscience is duly noted, as is your missing the point of his analysis. None of this is based on social conscience, but in what generates maximum economic growth. Paul not only gives direct evidence of a reduction in the growth rate that correlates with the reduction of tax rates, he dissects the reasons why. Want is not a straight line curve, something that the 'greed is good' crowd has neglected for over 40 years. Of course, your only retort to evidence and thoughtful analysis by a Nobel laureate is to label his thesis 'lunacy'. Sorry, but without evidence, solid reasoning or even standing in the field no one is going to pay attention. Which is a good thing, it's time rationality regained the upper hand in public policy and politics.18 RecommendHBD NYC Jan. 7
@Prof Here are some facts you didn't mention. Many Americans aren't paid enough by the "job creators" to have enough tax liability. When you pay people low enough wages, they end up being below the standard deduction. The top 1% has significantly more *wealth* than their wages indicate. Our tax scheme is mildly progressive at this point, so it should not be surprising that they pay a higher percent tax per dollar earned than someone earning, say, $25,000 a year. As of 2015, 13.5% of Americans lived in poverty. That's over 40 million people. Hard to have much income to tax in the first place when one is poor. Keep doing the reverse Robin Hood routine and the social fabric of this nation will tear so badly that our norms will disappear and we will descend into the chaos that permeates nation-states with extreme wealth inequality.18 RecommendVin NYC Jan. 6
At the very least, the FICA paycheck deduction should be based on every dollar earned rather than being capped at $128,000, (or so.) For one thing, this would go a long way to solve the problem of shortfalls in the Social Security fund for the large baby boom bump. How is it justified that this deduction should be capped for the highest earners??!Reply 18 RecommendRjW SprucePine NC Jan. 5
@Smokey geo Amazing. We've literally tried the approach you advocate for the past 30+ years, and all the evidence shows that we're worse off. Giving rich people more money on the hop that it trickles down has literally led to stagnant wages, obscene inequality, and lower growth than in the previous decades. You can try to dress it up however you want - feel free to throw another equation our way - but the proof is in the pudding. We've had almost four decades of evidence that refutes your argument.18 RecommendEd New York Jan. 6
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD, Correlation v. Causation notwithstanding, as in life , tines change. Deductions were abused but companies were reinvesting heavily. Today they buy back their shares and salt the rest away offshore. Bring back the taxes but invest it wisely. Infrastructure, education, health care , research, you know, like China kinda sorta.18 RecommendStacia Redmond, WA Jan. 6
Please, no socialism in the US. It has been tested in many many many places, it is always a failure. Why try??? France has the second highest taxes in the world and massive protests. It is a tempting policy, Why not tax the super rich? Seems to make so much sense. The problem is that IT DOES NOT WORK. Tax at whatever rate you want, 76%, 80%, 99%, lets try for a few year, you'll get some money first and then less, less, less because society gets poorer, people and capital leave, so eventually you're back to where you were but with less wealth. Society needs to create wealth not be obsessed with taking from others. Policy of envy is the worse.18 RecommendMark Zaitz Denver Jan. 5
@Ed So the high tax rates in the mid-20th century were...socialism? Scare tactics aren't helpful. The rest of your comment is demonstrably not true based on our own history. It creates wealth *for our country* when we tax the rich appropriately. We should definitely not be focused on trying to create wealth just for individuals. How does that promote the general welfare? Try again.18 RecommendDr joe yonkers ny Jan. 5
The Dems need to articulate this with greater understanding and confidence. Most people do not understand "effective tax rate," and thus hear 73% and think it's on the entire earnings of an individual. Americans don't understand carried interest, the Soc Sec contribution max on earnings, and SEP and other pre-tax benefits for the wealthy. Then they hear, "Vote for me, I'll cut your taxes," and we deepen the mess.Reply 18 RecommendLarry St. Paul, MN Jan. 6
All I know is that Romney confirmed that he only pays 14 percent. Many of us ordinary folk pay far more and thats ok, but 14 percent?18 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
Discussions of higher taxes on the wealthy typically fail to clarify that higher taxation rates in all likelihood will only kick in once you reach a certain (much higher) level of income So a taxation rate of 50% on a $1 milllion salary doesn't mean that the individual pays $500,000 in federal taxes. In the 1950s the top tax rate was 91%, but it didn't kick in until you reached an annual income of $200,000, which in today's dollars is about $1.85 million. So what seems like grossly unfair government confiscation of hard-earned income -- when you start throwing around numbers like a 50% tax rate -- is nowhere near as harsh as it seems. According to one website, effective tax rates in the 1950s on the wealthy were closer to 42%. https://taxfoundation.org/taxes-rich-1950-not-high /18 RecommendRichard Waugaman Potomac MD Jan. 5
@Darsan54 Yes, there are too many deductions, but if Democrats are going to protest over removing the deduction for state taxes (a highly progressive reform that only affected high earners), Democrats aren't likely to do away with the mortgage interest deduction, which is the most significant remaining income tax distortion. . AOC and PK both ignore the real elephant in the room, which is the rates of divident (22%) and capital gains (20%) tax rates. We should be taxing capital income at labor income rates, or even better taxing capital itself. Once again, though, the educated elite donor base in the Democratic party would be hurt by taxes on their accumulated wealth. The debate over labor income taxes is mostly a snow-screen so the Democratic party doesn't have to talk about wealth inequality and our failure to tax wealth.18 RecommendBarbara Connecticut Jan. 5
Growing income inequality saps our strength as a nation, as it widens economic disparities and undermines our sense of common purpose. Higher marginal rates for the wealthy will help everyone. The wealthy will surely put patriotism and the common good above greed and self-interest.18 RecommendDeborah Altman Ehrlich Sydney Australia Jan. 5
I know this opinion piece addresses only personal income tax but I don't think you should separate the issue from corporate income tax. As many economists have already noted, based on current research, corporations have plowed most of their windfall from their lower tax rates into buying back stock and rewarding the officers of the company,rather than into higher wages for middle class workers in the company. Let's not forget this crucial inequity and make restitutions in both cases.18 RecommendRAD61 New York Jan. 6
It's not just taxing high earners. In Australia we lose more tax revenue from corporations avoiding taxation. For example, News Corporation (owned by Rupert Murdoch): -- had revenue of A$2 billion and paid no tax on it -- received A$30 million tax dollars from the Federal Government to develop women's sports coverage on his TV channel, Foxtel, coverage which never eventuated. -- his nephew, Matt Handbury, received A$14 million for 'research' which has been totally undocumented, but is believed to have gone to the IPA, a conservative 'think tank' established by Keith Murdoch, Rupert's father. I've no doubt the same largesse to corporations & their owners is seen in the USA, which provides our lot of kleptocrats with so much inspiration.Reply 18 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
Unfortunately, with second-rate economists and third-rate human beings like Arthur Laffer advising them, Republicans are not likely to change their views. It will need Democrat's getting hold of both the legislative and presidential branches of government for sense to prevail.18 Recommend
@Tessa One more time, the tax rate is only on the topmost of the income, not all of it. And not on anything below $10,000,000.
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Anomander64 -> Davesnothereman , 3 Jun 2018 16:44Shhhh... whatever you do, don't ever let them hear you criticizing the "job creators" or there will be trouble.
You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties.
Repeat after me:
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"For THEY shall inherit the wealth"
May 24, 2019 | medium.com
Entrepreneurship is having a moment. Innovative people with the resources, know-how and spunk to bring their ideas to life have been doing so since the dawn of civilization, but in the age of Silicon Valley tech startup success stories, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and investment programs like Dragons' Den, you could say entrepreneurs have reached celebrity status.
Like the countless young girls singing into their hairbrushes and dreaming of becoming the next Beyonce, it seems like more and more people are setting their sights on venturing out on their own to create the next big thing and become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or Elon Musk.
Being inspired by stories of success is one thing, but I think we've gone too far and created the cult of the entrepreneur. It starts with people idolizing the billionaires in hoodies and assuming they'll have the same success trajectory, despite the fact that most people don't experience that type of success with any of their businesses, let alone their first. Then enter a new vocabulary focused on "hustle" and "lean startup" and "minimum viable product," which glorifies working practically 24/7 for nothing more than equity and crossed fingers. Then add a dash of absurd investments, like the $41 million that went into startup Color before it even launched (it eventually failed spectacularly).
The first problem I see with the cult of the entrepreneur is that for some people the title seems to take precedence over the success of the product or service they created. Like an author who's never had a book published, calling yourself an entrepreneur is meaningless if you can't point to the fruits of your entrepreneurship. The word has a misleading air of success.
The glorification of entrepreneurship naturally tempts people to use the term to build themselves up. This is especially evident on Twitter and LinkedIn where I've often seen entrepreneur listed in someone's bio without being able to figure out what he or she actually does. It also has the consequence of undermining people who work hard, achieve great success and are integral to a company's success without being entrepreneurs -- the Sheryl Sandberg rather than the Zuckerberg.
The focus of any business should always be its customers and how you're providing value for them while making sure your business model is sound and adaptable. There are a lot of moving parts and nobody can make it work alone. There are investors, business partners, people who offer advice along the way, and, of course, the people who end up working for that company in its early stages and as it grows. In fact, these people probably possess a lot of entrepreneurial qualities, but they don't get to call themselves entrepreneurs because they work for someone else.
With all the hype surrounding entrepreneurs, there's an elephant in the room: most people want the money, accolades, and power that come with being a successful entrepreneur, but they don't want to put in the years of hard work.
Even if you accept the fact that being an entrepreneur involves no time off, long hours, and extremely limited resources, you still have to contend with luck. As much as you might want to be the next TechCrunch headline, and as much as you might have a great concept and the skills to make it happen, it might be the wrong time or the wrong place for your idea.
As an entrepreneur you're betting your livelihood and your career at every stage. You might see examples of perceived overnight successes all around you, but you don't see the years of struggle and failure that often preceded them.
Bitstrips , which exploded onto the app scene recently, was founded in 2007, the same year the first iPhone came out. Even if you have all the confidence in the world in your idea, you don't know when (if ever) the exact conditions needed for success will come together.
Not everyone is prepared to spend years on a project that likely won't work out, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Eschewing years of financial struggle and uncertainty to work for a company that has already proven itself does not mean you've given up on success or sold yourself short.
The entrepreneurial spirit is a great thing that can manifest itself in different people in many different ways, regardless of what position they hold in a company. Trying to impress people by calling yourself an entrepreneur on social media is not one of them.
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