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Should Billionaires Who Refuse To Pay Their Fair Share Of Taxes Face An Automatic Capital Sentence?

Or Just Confiscation Of 100% Of Their Wealth?



I pick Door #1. But I've never been squeamish about the death penalty for wealthy criminals. Are billionaires the root of all evil? Absolutley. If they were all dragged to the guillotines tomorrow, would the world be a better place? 100% and without the slightest doubt. Should Trump pave the way? If you didn't just start reading DWT for the first time today, you know how I would answer that question too.


In a column for Raw Story, Thom Hartmann noted that “During Jimmy Carter’s presidency, five Republicans on the Supreme Court legalized— for the first time in the history of either America or any other developed country in the world— political bribery by billionaires and corporations alike. It was a subset of Lewis Powell’s infamous Memo about how the very, very rich should rise up and seize control of American politics because they knew best how to run a country and, Powell suggested, all those pesky social programs from the New Deal and Great Society had put America on the road to communism… Reagan was sworn in on January 20, 1981 and immediately set about remaking the GOP’s top priorities away from what was best for America and toward exclusively serving the interests of obscene wealth.


Reagan pursued Jude Wanniski’s Two Santa’s political strategy with gusto. Wanniski, in 1977, had argued that when Republicans held the White House they should use tax-cuts and budget-busting spending to run up the national debt as fats and as high as possible, thus injecting money and stimulus to let the good times roll.
This would make people think Republicans knew how to run an economy.
Republicans got so good at it that today the average billionaire in America pays around 3.2% in income taxes.
When Democrats came into office, Wanniski said, Republicans in Congress should begin to squeal loudly about the national debt (that Republicans had created with their tax cuts), claiming it was a threat to the nation. This, Wanniski said, would force Democrats to “shoot Santa”: vote to gut their own social programs.
Cue MAGA Mike Johnson.
The smarmy little man was so on-message yesterday that he even claimed that people in our military had told him they thought our national debt was a bigger threat to us than Russia or China. Nothing, Johnson argued, was more important than cutting back on the IRS’ ability to audit billionaires while reducing social program spending.
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, housing subsidies, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, the Peace Corps, the GI Bill, federal home loan programs, the National School Lunch Act, Head Start, the Family and Medical Leave Act, dozens of supports for public schools: all these programs and more that benefit average Americans were passed by Democrats over the objection of the majority of Republicans.
The sad reality is that the GOP serves only two masters: giant corporate monopolies and the morbidly rich. They’ll toss a rhetorical bone to racists, misogynists, gun freaks, homophobes, and Nazis, but that’s just to get enough votes to hold political power: their real obsession, their true North Star, is great wealth.
Some Democrats were giddy when Johnson was selected Speaker because they thought his lack of experience and his extremist views on abortion, homosexuality, and religion would alienate him from the American public.
But Johnson has proven himself up to the task, if yesterday’s first press conference is any indication. He’ll go to nearly any length to keep the IRS from collecting from his tax-cheat patrons, all while working to gut the American social safety net and giving Putin whatever he wants.
And now he’s collaborating with Republicans in the Senate to create a secret commission to slash Social Security behind closed doors.
So, get ready for the next 14 months (until the next Congress is sworn in January 2025) to be a nonstop attack on America’s poor, our middle class, and the entire spectrum of racial, gender, and religious minorities who make up the fabric of our nation. After all, somebody’s gotta pay for those massive tax cuts Reagan, Bush, and Trump gave Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Musk.


Last week, referring to Big Tech, the Patriotic Millionaires noted that “outsized success inevitably engenders hubris; that hubris breeds blindness; and blindness in wealthy elites does untold damage to a country’s social fabric and economic health. It is a tale as old as time. Such hubris, and the blindness that follows, has infected Silicon Valley venture capitalist Mark Andreessen. Two weeks ago, Andreessen published a manifesto in which he argued that amassing personal fortunes is inherently philanthropic. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s claiming that the mere act of accumulating vast riches, without giving any of it away, is in and of itself an act of charity. This farcical notion is definitionally at odds with philanthropy, but it’s hard to know where to begin refuting it. This is because Andreessen’s erratic, disorganized, and generally confusing screed touches on everything from artificial intelligence to carbon emissions to communism. At its heart, however, he is making an impotent attempt at reviving old (and exhaustingly discredited) notions of greed being good.”


Their e-mail noted that "What really sets Andreessen’s little blog apart from more pedestrian libertarianism is what follows the tired "Free-Markets-Are-Infallible" tropes: he dedicates significant ink to explaining “The Enemy.” In his mind, the enemy is anyone who stands in the way of his deeply demented vision of a bizarre techno utopia ruled by a neo-feudal aristocracy composed of wealthy tech tycoons."

The New York Times opinion columnist Elizabeth Spiers took on Andreessen directly by saying the “manifesto has the pathos of the Unabomber manifesto but lacks the ideological coherency.” In other words, if anyone other than a tech billionaire had published these ravings, they would be considered deranged at best and, in all likelihood, referred to medical professionals for psychological observation.
It would be reassuring to think that Andreessen and his unhinged thinking are anomalies in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, that's not the case. As Axios explains, Andreessen’s manifesto is only the latest iteration of an existing ideology festering among the tech elite. The “selfishness is philanthropy” notion has buy-in from ultra-wealthy magnates like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Larry Page, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, and, of course, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.
Andreessen and his friends are following in the footsteps of industrial titans who, for centuries, have argued that they are already philanthropists merely by building businesses that give people jobs and create useful products. You may recall an oft-misquoted quip from General Motors CEO Charlie Wilson during his Senate confirmation hearing to become Secretary of Defense in 1953 that goes something like: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” While not verbatim what Wilson actually told Congress, this quote embodies the thinking of industrialists looking to justify their greed: if one can equate profits with patriotism, they can justify mistreating their workers, dodging taxes, and skirting regulations.
At first glance, this all seems like a smokescreen to obscure morally repugnant behavior. But it becomes more alarming when you consider that many of their ideas are already dogma in politics and media. In her thorough takedown, Elizabeth Spiers goes on to say:
“... the real problem with Mr. Andreessen’s manifesto may be not that it’s too outlandish, but that it’s too on-the-nose. Because in a very real and consequential sense, this view is already enshrined in our culture. Major tent-poles of public policy support it. You can see it in the work requirements associated with public assistance, which imply that people’s primary value is their labor and that refusal or inability to contribute is fundamentally antisocial. You can see it in the way we valorize the C.E.O.s of ‘unicorn’ companies who have expanded their wealth far beyond what could possibly be justified by their individual contributions. And the way we regard that wealth as a product of good decision-making and righteous hard work, no matter how many billions of dollars of investors’ money they may have vaporized, how many other people contributed to their success or how much government money subsidized it… Would-be corporate monarchs, having consolidated power even beyond their vast riches, have already persuaded much of the rest of the population to more or less go along with it.
This all lays the ideological groundwork for tech magnates to seize ever-greater levels of power and influence at the expense of working people. As the Patriotic Millionaires have said before, when extreme wealth is allowed to accumulate unchecked, oligarchs will use that wealth to gain political power. It's dangerous and destabilizing. But perhaps more terrifying, we now understand what they hope to do with their political power. Their vision for our country is terrifying.
Critically, Spiers’ essay also explains how Andreessen’s twisted neo-reactionary ideas— from his prescriptions for economic growth to hostility toward regulation of artificial intelligence— are fundamentally hostile to democracy. Many tech billionaires are quite open about their feelings on this: Peter Thiel has argued that democracy is incompatible with freedom. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, we don’t know what will.
You’ve heard us say this once or twice before: the ultra wealthy must pay the taxes they owe society. But it’s not about paying for this program or that federal department. Rather, it’s about ensuring that wealth is not used as a political weapon, preventing oligarchs from controlling our institutions, and building an equitable economy for every American. Taxing extreme wealth is how we prevent Mark Andreessen and his fellow tech moguls from anointing themselves monarchs and turning our world into their laboratory for extremist ideologies.

4 Comments


Guest
Nov 06, 2023

Yes. Billionaires SHOULD be taxed out of existence. No healthy society can tolerate the existence of such wealth concentration.

But while you seem to be advocating that very outcome, you still advocate for the election of democraps.

And democraps have proved without exception that they will NEVER tax anyone more than they already are... except those below the 70% or so.


So... once again, your advocacies are in opposition. Since you advocate for electing democraps far more often than you advocate for all the myriad of issues that democraps have refused to address in ANY way for over a half century, one must presume that this is your true advocacy and all the rest, including that of taxing billionaires ..…

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i heard Robert Reich say only 3-4 percent of the wealthiest people are even audited. The IRS would need MORE funding to do more auditing of these people. This is the opposite, of course, of what Republicans are aiming for: defunding the IRS. The main problem unfortunately is the average American’s ignorance and stupidity, which is also being promoted and even mandated via educational suppression by Republicans and right wing media.

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Guest
Nov 05, 2023
Replying to

and proving my constant thesis. so... tell us all... what have your pussy democraps DONE to have the IRS audit more uber-rich people? nothing!

what have your pussy democraps DONE to make americans more educated and less fucking stupid? nothing! the same as for each and every other issue and cancer in the shithole.


I will grant you that your pussy democraps may actually talk about them some. But they have refused to actually FIX any of them since they passed VRA and CRA by about 1966.


the always missing yan to the always blamed yin.


ONLY when y'all get smart enough to understand this will anything have any chance to be improved. So far... nothing.

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Guest
Nov 05, 2023

“During Jimmy Carter’s presidency, five Republicans on the Supreme Court legalized— for the first time in the history of either America or any other developed country in the world— political bribery by billionaires and corporations alike."


And ever since then, NOBODY, notably not any democrap admins nor congresses have done jack shit to rectify this ridiculous idiotic fascist decision. Certainly, NOBODY WHO VOTES has voted for anyone who would even think of fixing it.


Just like nobody did jack shit about what was in the powell memo from 1971 and its implementation over the intervening 52 years and counting.


And it is NOT true that nobody did jack shit about the reagan revolution (the implementation of what this column attributes…


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