It’s quite common to hear people say we should “tax the rich” so they “pay their fair share” and fund all the socialist programs they want. But is this reasonable or practicable?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: So this week we record these a little bit ahead of time, but at the time of recording this is happening right now, this week, Jeff Bezos, who is the founder of Amazon, is one of the world’s wealthiest men. I don’t think he’s the wealthiest Brittany. Do you know where he ranks on that list?

Brittany: I think it kept going back and forth. ’cause I think it’s Elon right now.

Emma: Yeah. He and Elon were like neck and neck for forever. So they probably still are. But anyway, one of the world’s richest men got into this public kind of debate with the president of the United States, which is kind of funny to me. I just kind of love that that’s the world we live in, where you have these people like going back and forth and having these open spats. It’s just kind of funny to me. So, Bezos said that, or actually this started out with the Biden administration. They tweeted this thing and they said that making sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share would quote, bring down inflation. And that.

Brittany: I saw this. Yes.

Emma: Yes. That to me is just hilarious because I think at this point the president will do just about anything to not be blamed for how bad inflation is right now. Like it’s getting very difficult to ignore. Like, people that I know that don’t care about politics at all will just randomly start complaining about inflation. And I’m like, wow, the libertarians were really right about this one. I’m like, this is crazy. So the White House tweets that they’re kind of like sub-tweeting Jeff Bezos kind of talking about him, but not necessarily calling him out. And Bezos actually responded with a statement through Amazon and said that the newly created disinformation board should review this tweet basically saying that the tweet was fake news. which is funny.

Brittany: I didn’t see that. That is nuts.

Emma: Yes, I know. It’s pretty funny. So, he says that, and then he says, again, raising corporate taxes is fine. To discuss taming inflation is critical to discuss mushing them together is just mis misdirection. And that to me was kind of funny because this is something that the White House does all the time where, you know, someone will bring up something completely valid. And this is, not just a White House, this is, most politicians will do this, but someone will bring up, you know, hey, inflation’s really bad. People are having a hard time feeding their families and buying gas and doing these critical things in their life. And you know, these politicians, but especially Joe Biden right now will say, well, it’s because of racism or it’s because of people not paying their fair share or it’s because of inequity. And it’s crazy to me. And I think one of the biggest things that gets drawn into this argument about inflation is that politicians will say we need to tax the rich more. Which to me is just like absolutely outrageous because you know, when you look at actually who’s paying the most taxes in the country, it’s by and large the very, very wealthy that are paying like this huge chunk of taxes. I should have pulled up the number before we did this, but, you can find the numbers fairly easily. The tax burden is mostly footed by the quote-unquote ultra-wealthy or these billionaires and millionaires as Bernie Sanders likes to say. But this is interesting to me, and I think it’s worth talking about because there does seem to be this growing attitude, especially among younger people, that, well, we should just tax the rich. We should just tax Jeff Bezos more. We should tax Elon Musk more. They could just end homelessness if they wanted to right away. And instead, they’re off buying Twitter and buying super yachts. And, you know, I can understand why people who are struggling to pay their bills would look at someone like, Jeff Bezos and say, well, he should do more because I’m working really hard and I’m having a hard time. And he seems to have it really easy. Like I can understand why someone would think that, but it’s not necessarily that simple. And I think it kind of, you know, for us to face this issue and to actually end up solving some of the problems we’re having right now with our economy, we’re gonna need a little bit of an attitude adjustment from feeling like we are entitled to other people’s property or other people’s earnings, which is essentially what taxes are, is it’s saying you have earned more than you deserve. So I am going to have the government take some of it away and redistribute it to other people, which sounds a little bit like crazy, but that’s pretty much how taxes work. So it’s a pretty absurd argument to make, especially given how much money the government has and how much money the government spends, and what we actually get back for it. So, it’s crazy. Brittany, I know that back sort of when like the Ron Pollers were just getting going and like kind of libertarian ideas were just taking off that people would make fun of us for caring about the national debt. And that’s something that has just become kind of funny now because now it’s like $30 trillion in debt, which if you divide it over, everyone in America is $90,000 per person, which is just crazy. Like, imagine if we all had a $90,000 debt that we just had to pay back. That’s how much mean student loans.

Brittany: A lot of people do. Well,

Emma: Well, that’s true. But imagine if it was just like thrown on you and you didn’t actually consent of any of the stipulations that came with it would be crazy. So I don’t know if you have any thoughts or if you’ve heard any crazy arguments about, you know, this tax the rich idea, but I don’t think it’s as simple as people think that it’s.

Brittany: I just like that it’s become the solution for everything. I think that’s because it’s never, it’s the easy way that people can think to solve every problem. Like, oh, world hunger. Oh, well if we just tax the rich, oh, homelessness. Oh, if we just tax the rich. But the funny thing about homelessness particularly is that it’s actually like a choice for a lot of people in Utah. They did like an experiment where they gave everyone a free home or like an apartment, not like a home,  to try to combat homelessness. I can’t say that, but guess what? It didn’t work because some people choose that life, they choose to go out. And they’ve chosen to do, you know, substances or whatever it is, mental health issues that ail them. Well, I didn’t choose that, but you know what I mean? But like they, there, it’s a trade-off and thing. So it doesn’t even matter if you had all the money in the world, it wouldn’t help. And so it’s funny to me, and you see that with Elon buying Twitter, right? Everybody was like, oh yeah, so you can buy Twitter, but you can’t feed everybody. You can’t do this. And then a lot of people were tweeting, like actually Elon said he would give, how much was it? Who was it? Was it like it was? United Nations or something was like, yes. Yeah. So they’re like, you could solve like world hunger. And he’s like, all right, tell me, give me a breakdown of exactly how you would use this money and I will donate it right now. And they never responded to him. And so it’s funny because everyone likes to say like, oh, Elon bought Twitter, or he could send people to the moon or trying to send people to space, but he can’t do that. And it’s just one, it’s not realistic too. It’s not anybody else’s money. So it’s one of those arguments that never seems to die, you know?

Emma: Yeah, it’s so true. And like the crazy thing to me is too, the United States federal government spent $6.82 trillion just last year. And that’s a trillion with a T which is a very hard number to sort of fathom. But if you actually write it out, that’s like how many zeros? 1, 2, 3, 4. That’s a lot of stinking zeros. It’s like, oh man, there are that’s just like a lot of money to be spending as the government. And the crazy thing to me is that it’s called revenue, but it’s taken from us and it’s taken from people who never consented to giving that money to the government. And it’s when we get to a point where it’s like, you know, the solution for everything is, well, we need to tax the rich more. We need people to pay their quote-unquote fair share. It doesn’t even, fix the problems. Because when you look at the tax burden that is on people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, they’re paying a lot of money to the government. And it’s not like there’s a shortage of tax money going in, it’s that the government does not know how to spend it wisely, and they don’t know how to be stewards of that money. So it’s kind of a silly thing to say, well, people should pay more in taxes when our government raises so much money in quote-unquote revenue in taxes and has no idea how to spend it or how to be good stewards of it. There’s actually, an interesting thing. It’s the US national debt clock, and it’s called US debt We can put a link in the show notes. It’s a fun tool. And it’s this website and all it does is just track spending by our government or track, debt that, so the three largest budget items right now that our government spends on is Medicare, social security, and defense slash war, which is pretty crazy to think about. And then the interest on all of that debt is $433 million, which is just crazy. So those are the three things that our government spends the most on, is providing government healthcare to people, which, if you know anyone who has had to use government healthcare, it does not work well. It does not serve people well. And a lot of times it’s the slowest, most inefficient way of getting treatment, social security, which is another thing that, you know, people were promised, this is gonna be great, it’s gonna be like a retirement program funded by the government. And it’s barely enough to meet people’s needs in today’s day and age, especially with inflation doing what it’s doing, and then defense and war. And we’ve talked a ton about, you know, the defense contracting industry and how corrupt it is, and this weird relationship that it has with the government. And it kind of like, I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine. And it’s super corrupt. And the fact that those are the three biggest things that we’re spending on, I think tells you a lot because no one is enjoying any of those three programs. There’s no one who’s really benefiting from these things other than the government. So I think the idea that we would look at the problems we have today and say, yes, more taxes, more government that will fix everything is just pretty nuts to me. And I think again, it kind of goes back to this idea of feeling like you’re entitled to a piece of other people’s successes. And that attitude I think is very toxic and can take us to a really negative place. So hopefully all of you guys listening to this podcast can talk to your friends about why that is not the way to fix everything. Brittany, do you have anything else you wanna add before we wrap up here?

Brittany: Nope. I think you said it all.

Emma: Awesome. Well, we will talk to you all again soon. Thanks for listening and talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.