Opinion: Billionaires haven’t earned all they have
Published: Feb 9, 2019 10:49 a.m. ET
The very wealthy do produce some value, but most of them are rentiers, piggybacking on the work of others
By REX NUTTING, COLUMNIST
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/billi ... 2019-02-07
By proposing to tax large incomes at a higher rate and to tax the wealth of the very rich, progressive politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are forcing a long-overdue re-examination of what billionaires actually contribute.
Are billionaires and other “people of means” (billionaire Howard Schultz’s preferred phrase) the main engines of social progress and economic growth, as many on the right say? Or, are they “vampire squids” sucking the lifeblood of the economy, as a few on the left believe?
Are billionaires the greatest makers in the economy, or the greatest takers?
My vote is for greatest takers.
On the example of patents creating vast wealth, my thinking is that the tax system needs to tax vast wealth very heavily. The inventor gets rewarded with big wealth but not with vast wealth. This is enough to cause future inventors to invent.