The 1%

Most of the 1% (people in the 99th percentile of wealth) got there because they contributed much, much, more than average (their fair share, it seems to me) to the well-being of the entire population (as measured by the willingness of other people to trade wealth for the products of their labor). Some, small number, of them got there because others who contributed much more than their fair share wanted their wealth to go to these people. Some, very very few, are scumbags who got there because they manipulate government power to enrich themselves; And they will continue to do that, regardless of the tax code, so long as governments have power over vast resources and people respond to incentives.

If you think that they should pay more in taxes because (as Willie Sutton apparently never said) “That’s where the money is.” Then, be honest (at least in that respect) and say so.

If you think so because you are so offended by wealth inequality that you’d prefer that we were all more equal and less successful, then say that (you jerk!).

But all of this blather about the rich not paying their fair share is just annoying nonsense.

Occupying Incoherence

I haven’t been following the Occupy Wall Street protests very closely. The little that I’ve seen and read makes me think of it as a bunch of people who recognize some problems with crony corporatism, cannot stand wealth inequality, and have no ideas about where wealth comes from or how to address the problems. Mostly, they seem to like the idea of protesting, and making richer people suffer for poorer people. They want wealth separated from politics, and the political system to pay for all of their wants.

I think George Will captured my sense of the main problem best in this article.

Still, OWS’s defenders correctly say it represents progressivism’s spirit and intellect. Because it embraces spontaneity and deplores elitism, it eschews deliberation and leadership. Hence its agenda, beyond eliminating one of the seven deadly sins (avarice), is opaque. Its meta-theory is, however, clear: Washington is grotesquely corrupt and insufficiently powerful.

They’re abusing their power. It’s attracting lots of resources to try to control it…so let’s give them more power over more wealth.