I liked this post by Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute, responding to a story that a UK cabinet minister urged a “morale boosting” tax increase on the rich:
The UK Health Minister wants a big tax increase on the rich in order to boost morale and demonstrate that Labour Party officials “understand what it is like to cope with rising food, fuel, and utility bills.” But if punishing Britain’s most productive residents actually is a way to boost morale for the rest of population, why not build a big coliseum and feed them to lions instead? Wouldn’t that be an even bigger “morale booster”?
Unfortunately, I think that there are quite a few people who really do want to see successful people punished. One of the greatest obstacles to economic liberty seems to be that so many people have a sense of justice that prefers that outcomes be equal (or close) over being better for all.
I really hope that the vast majority of us can get past this mistake, but I’m not sure if it’s the sort of belief that’s amenable to reason and change. It might be just too deeply held. I know that I’ve never had much luck talking someone out of the feeling that it’s just wrong for some to prosper much more than others, or that the others lacked the moral right to redistribute the loot.