Paul Krugman: Tax the rich to thwart American aristocracy!

The New York Times columnist slams those who say raising taxes on the wealthy is un-American

Topics: Teddy Roosevelt, Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Inequality, Class War, one percent, Thomas Jefferson, Taxes, Wealth, Rich, ARISTOCRACY, , ,

Paul Krugman: Tax the rich to thwart American aristocracy!Paul Krugman (Credit: Reuters/Anton Golubev)

In his latest column for the New York Times, award-winning economist and best-selling author Paul Krugman argues that raising taxes on the super-rich is not only necessary but is also well within American tradition.

Citing Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican president of the early 20th century, Krugman notes that Americans have a history of worrying about inequality and advocating fiscal measures to combat it.

Contrary to what many conservatives say, using the state to combat the concentration of great fortunes into a small number of hands has long been promoted and enacted buy Americans — in fact, Krugman argues, the animating egalitarian spirit behind the movement can be traced all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and his love for the small, independent farmer.

In the past, Krugman writes, Americans “were forthright in arguing that public policy should seek to limit inequality for political as well as economic reasons, that great wealth posed a danger to democracy.”

You Might Also Like

And for those conservatives who’d argue that today’s hyper-wealthy get their largess through high incomes, not inheritance or capital holdings, Krugman has some unwelcome news: “[T]hat view is a generation out of date,” Krugman writes. “New work by the economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman finds that the share of wealth held at the very top — the richest 0.1 percent of the population — has doubled since the 1980s” and is now just as bad as it was during the Gilded Age.

Krugman continues:

We don’t know how much of that wealth is inherited. But it’s interesting to look at the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans. By my rough count, about a third of the top 50 inherited large fortunes. Another third are 65 or older, so they will probably be leaving large fortunes to their heirs. We aren’t yet a society with a hereditary aristocracy of wealth, but, if nothing changes, we’ll become that kind of society over the next couple of decades.

In short, the demonization of anyone who talks about the dangers of concentrated wealth is based on a misreading of both the past and the present. Such talk isn’t un-American; it’s very much in the American tradition. And it’s not at all irrelevant to the modern world. So who will be this generation’s Teddy Roosevelt?

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...