Farhad Manjoo | Why Did I Think We Could Get Rid of Billionaires? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I was reading about Jeff Bezos’ new boat last week when I began to understand one of my greatest failures as a pundit. This might seem an outsize reaction to a bit of maritime news, but as Bloomberg reported, Bezos’ is no ordinary boat. It is, instead, a “superyacht” — a 417-foot, three-mast sailing vessel that could be one of the largest such yachts ever built, if not in length then perhaps in moral recklessness. In a boom time for billionaires, Bloomberg says, the market for these most elephantine of yachts is roaring.

There was one detail that sent me reeling: At a cost of more than $500 million, you’d think the Amazon founder’s yacht would be outfitted with every luxury. Nope — it lacks a helipad, which couldn’t be accommodated because of the boat’s enormous sails. Bezos’ partner, Lauren Sanchez, is a helicopter pilot, so how would she get on and off the big boat? For the world’s richest man the answer is obvious — another boat. The Bezos superyacht will be accompanied by a smaller yacht — maybe call it Lil Yachty — whose primary function is as a place to land and park the helicopter.

Hence my heartburn: Two years ago, I was part of a boomlet in lefty opinion circles calling for American society to reconsider our fondness for billionaires. To me it seemed self-evidently immoral for anyone to possess a billion American dollars in wealth. We could argue where exactly the line was, but a billion was indefensibly beyond it — it’s far more money than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes, and far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however quickly he can ship you toilet paper.

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Well Farhad, it sounds like your learning. There are excellent pieces of advice for helping you focus in the top comments. I’ll add to that list my favorite, after bring all dark contributions to light, which is to make the tax on capital gains the same as the tax on earned income. That it is treated lighter is an enourmous loop-hole for the wealthy. You can leave the capital gains lighter rate for people with incomes below 2,3 or $400,000. I’m not sure I can say where to draw this line. Few people realize that the tax rate under Dwight David Eisenhower reached up to 93% for the richest Americans. I do not understand yet if that was the sum of Federal, State and Local taxes, but I suspect that is what is meant. My guess is that 93% was special to the wealthy who worked in New York City.

DL: After more research, I was right about the 93% was three tiers, and probalby only on money over $200,000, which back then was worth 2.4 million.

“The average tax rate on the 0.1 percent highest-income Americans was 50.6 percent in the 1950s, compared to 39.8 percent today. The average tax rate on the top 0.01 percent was 55.3 percent in the 1950s, compared to 40.8 percent today.Aug 4, 2017″
Taxes on the Rich Were Not Much Higher in the 1950s | Tax …taxfoundation.org › taxes-on-the-rich-1950s-not-high

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