In the crush of morning commuters, the bench seats were nearly full. I found an empty space with a group of high school-aged students heading to their Seattle private school. They were sipping iced coffee beverages. They looked up as I sat down. Then went back to their iPhones.
I couldn’t help but notice the tee shirt one of the girls was wearing. I can see why US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be someone for her to admire—young, exuberant, and already a force in the world of politics.
Unfortunately for the group of students, I’d just read an article about proposed federal tax increases. Normally, I’m a quiet listener. Not today. So, I asked the AOC-shirted girl if she liked AOC’s tax plan.
A head nod.
Then I gave her and her friends a scenario from Stephen Patton’s calculations in World Magazine. Let’s say you’re on the Forbes 400 list of America’s wealthiest. If you and your ultra-wealthy friends decided to collectively pay for America’s 2020 spending (it’s $4.7 trillion) this is what would happen:
Jeff Bezos would volunteer to go first with his wealth of $160 billion in net worth. That gives us 12 days of the 2020 budget. Next up, Bill Gates and his good friend Warren Buffet. That almost gets our country to the end of January. Even if you and all your Forbes friends gave away your wealth to fund our government in 2020, we would not get through the dog days of summer. Then Jeff, Bill, Warren, and the rest of your Forbes gang would need government welfare assistance.
Taxing corporations more? Sure. Reforms could help. But we need corporations to employ millions of Americans, so a punishing tax could end up hurting more than helping.
When AOC said “a system that allows billionaires to exist is immoral.” I wonder where our nation would be without the ingenuity those billionaires gave to America. I could see the students liked their iPhones. And that AOC shirt probably was ordered from Amazon.
Would a system that takes the earnings from the inventive and industrious really help America? I could tell they weren’t interested. Maybe they had more important things to think about since they aren’t taxpayers—yet.
I felt old. But maybe old enough to know better too.