Bill Gates: Income taxes great; wealth taxes bad

“Bill Gates criticises Elizabeth Warren’s plan for tax on super-rich” (BBC):

Under the original plan, households with a net worth between $50m (£39m) and $1bn (£780m) will be charged with a 2% “wealth tax” every year. This would rise to 3% for any households with a net worth of over $1bn.

But last week, Ms Warren suggested doubling the latter rate – from 3% to 6%. She said the money raised from this new tax would be used to fund her healthcare plan, which is expected to cost the federal government $20.5tn over 10 years.

Mr Gates hit back at the idea during a talk at the New York Times DealBook conference in New York on Wednesday.

I’m all for super-progressive tax systems,” he said. “I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine.

“But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over,” he added. “You really want the incentive system to be there without threatening that.”

(I don’t understand his statement that he has paid $10 billion in taxes. If he mostly let his Microsoft stock sit or donated it to his foundation, why did he have to pay capital gains tax? Certainly he would not have had a substantial amount of ordinary income that would attract the high ordinary income tax rates that he has advocated. Maybe the $10 billion is capital gains tax on venture capital investments that he made on which he was forced to exit, e.g., due to an acquisition? Plus some from selling Microsoft stock to diversify? Or he is referring to corporate taxes paid by Microsoft (see below) that he paid indirectly?)

He’s “all for super-progressive tax systems,” but with one exception!

Related:

  • Microsoft’s pre-Trump corporate tax system: “By conducting sales from places with small populations and low tax rates, and routing some profit through virtually tax-free jurisdictions like Bermuda, Microsoft has cut billions of dollars from its tax bill over the last decade.”
Full post, including comments

49 percent of Washington State voters see themselves as victims

Yesterday’s post regarding Kshama Sawant, the immigrant running for reelection on a platform of “the rent is too damn high,” motivated me to check the election results. Ms. Sawant was the only incumbent to have lost. More interestingly, 48.7 percent of Washington State voters say “yes” to reinstating affirmative action:

I-1000, the measure passed by lawmakers, aims to increase diversity in public contracting, employment and education, while barring the use of quotas or preferential treatment.

Affirmative-action supporters say such measures are necessary to address longstanding and broad discrimination against women and people of color. One example they cite is data showing a drop in contracts with the state for certified women- and minority-owned businesses.

But throughout the campaign, opponents of affirmative action — led by a group of Chinese immigrants — said the policy gives the government the power to discriminate.

If we assume that people vote their self-interest, then we can conclude from the election result that nearly half of the voters in Washington State expected to benefit from official victim status.

Full post, including comments

LGBTQIA is out at Brown University…

…. because TGQN is in.

I visited a group house in which the students attending this Ivy League university vow “We reject systems that create and reinforce inequality” as a “guiding principle”.

I visited the FBO at the nearby airport, whose ramp was groaning with private jets that had arrived for Parents’ Weekend. Sometimes it is only by spinning three turbojet engines that one can reject inequality…

I had a sandwich at U Melt, which welcomes everyone except those without money:

(The sign plus the absence of any kind of program to provide meals for the poor is more evidence for my theory that social justice causes that don’t cost more than the price of a sign are the most popular.)

Fun on the main student drag:

Full post, including comments

Evidence for theory explaining LGBTQIA promotion popularity

Back in August, I asked “Is LGBTQIA the most popular social justice cause because it does not require giving money?”

Here’s some evidence for the theory, from downtown Washington, D.C.:

The church is surrounded by begging homeless people and a McLaren automobile that costs roughly $150,000 per seat (perfect for sitting in D.C. gridlock!). Are the church and its parishioners concerned about poverty or inequality? Apparently not, since the only cause promoted with a sign regards LGBTQIA.

(In this cause, the church is competing with the D.C. government. City building a few blocks away:

“The District has a higher level of income inequality than any state in the country” and yet the “Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Affairs” has its programs featured in the taxpayer-funded building rather than anything to do with poverty.)

Full post, including comments

1.5 billion Chinese people crowd into the “of color” category

“Harvey Weinstein Told Me He Liked Chinese Girls” (New York Times):

The second power imbalance was around race — the fact that Harvey was white and I was a person of color

With approximately 1.5 billion Chinese people worldwide, doesn’t this make the “Person of Color” category rather crowded?

The old fat guy has more money than the young lithe woman:

Finally, the wealth — Harvey was a multimillionaire, with all the influence money could buy. I was a fresh graduate loaded with student debt. Even during the few months I worked with him, I saw firsthand the influence that money could buy. Later, I was to discover that it could even buy silence.

The two adults have a late-night meeting in a hotel room:

At the Venice Film Festival later that year, these four power imbalances collided in a late-night meeting with Harvey. I had expected to discuss potential film productions and scripts, and we did. But after hours of fending off his chitchat, flattery, requests for massages and a bath, ultimately I found myself pushed back against the bed. I’d worn two pairs of tights for protection, and tried to appease him by taking one of them off and letting him massage me, but it hadn’t worked.

The young trim person is able to escape from the old morbidly obese person:

In the end, I was able to wriggle off the bed and leave

The financial power imbalance is rectified to a small extent:

when I finally signed the nondisclosure document, accepting a settlement of £125,000 (about $213,000) and agreeing to stay silent forever, the trauma was not yet over.

(If all of this happened 20 years ago, that’s roughly $332,000 in 2019 dollars.)

Get ready for a bunch more articles about Harvey and his hotel room companions:

Then, in September 2018, I watched another woman, Christine Blasey Ford, speak up about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Coincidentally, only a few minutes from my house she was living the very existence I’d feared … In January, I had the privilege of sharing my story with Dr. Blasey and other survivors in a group interview conducted by Ms. Kantor and Ms. Twohey. … Since the story broke in October 2017, many actresses, from the relatively unknown to the superstars, have come out with stories about Harvey. Yet the stories of assistants have gotten relatively little attention by comparison, and tragically, even fewer of those voices have been of women of color.

Reading between the lines, it seems that the victim/author is living in Silicon Valley in a house with her four children. (i.e., depending on the house, she might well have reached the “multimillionaire” status with which she characterized the middle-aged Harvey Weinstein.)

Readers: Is it reasonable for a Chinese person to don the “person of color” victimhood mantle? Would the African Americans living in East St. Louis (murder rate 19X the U.S. average and exceeding that of Honduras, El Salvador, and other countries from which folks are seeking asylum due to violence) agree that they should be lumped together with the mom of four in a house in America’s most expensive neighborhood? Can my Chinese-American dermatologist and engineering Ph.D. friends also claim to be “of color”?

[If Asians are “of color,” why doesn’t Harvard want to admit them?]

Related:

Full post, including comments

Why isn’t saying ‘person of color’ offensive?

Here’s a Facebook posting from a righteous academic:

I’ve been thinking about this image and caption ever since Amatullah posted it. I’ve been thinking about it in its own right—WHY DOESN’T FLINT HAVE POTABLE WATER YET, AND WHY DON’T WE CARE—but also because I see a lot of white “allies” in my daily life and ESPECIALLY in my professional life as a classicist, allies who just don’t know how to PASS THE MIC, step out of their own spotlight, and listen to POC.

Note my post is not a condemnation of Greta, whom I admire. It’s a comment on those of us who can but choose not to promote and listen to our colleagues of color, particularly when it comes to issues of combatting racism.

This is her addition while sharing a post featuring a young woman holding a sign about Flint’s public water supply and the following text:

While I’m immensely proud of Greta & AOC. Please don’t forget Mari Copeny aka: Little Miss Flint. She has been fighting for Flint & has not received even a portion of the attention she & her cause deserves!

EDIT: No empty useless comments about how this isn’t about Race, how it’s Democrats faults, and any other thinly veiled racism wrapped in logical Fallacies will be squashed (to the best of my ability)
This post is to Signal Boost Mari & others like her who are NOT getting the attention THEY deserve.

Read what I said, read it again.
Now share it, follow her & others that have been doing the work. Thanks!

The righteous sharer uses the acronym “POC” for “Person of Color” and refers to “colleagues of color.” If non-whites object to being classified by their skin color, why isn’t this term just as offensive as any other term that refers to skin color, e.g., “darkies” that Kentucky is trying to remove from “My Old Kentucky Home”? If the offensive idea is that inferences can be drawn based on the color of a person’s skin, rather than the content of their character, shouldn’t lumping all “persons of color” together be offensive, regardless of the term used?

Related:

Full post, including comments

Asians all look same to Harvard and the Federal judge

In yesterday’s post on Judge Allison Burroughs ruling that it is legal for Harvard to engage in race discrimination, I wrote

why is it okay for the judge to imply that a group of Asians is lacking in diversity? “In her decision, Judge Burroughs defended the benefits of diversity … ‘The rich diversity at Harvard and other colleges and universities and the benefits that flow from that diversity,’ she added, ‘will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.’” Isn’t the implication that if we assemble white and black Americans we have “rich diversity,” but if we assemble a group of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, and Indian students we have a boring monoculture?

A reader pointed out that there is already a web site for the Ivy League admissions officers and their Obama-appointed friends on the Federal bench: alllooksame.com.

Full post, including comments

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The crowds are thinning out at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. I simply showed up on a recent Sunday afternoon and was able to walk in (in theory this is possible only on weekdays in the off season).

The most prominent funders of the museum are white do-gooders:

And they are challenging stereotypes by serving fried chicken and collard greens in the cafeteria:

Slavery is presented as something that white Europeans did to African blacks. This sign regarding Olaudah Equiano is about as close as the museum ever gets to noting that black Africans were predominantly captured and sold into slavery by fellow black Africans and/or Arabs.

The museum confidently presents an economic history in which black labor is the basis of American wealth:

The Smithsonian does not explain how it is possible that enslaved blacks generated most American wealth and yet the South was much poorer than the North, to the point that it lost a war where the defense had a big advantage.

Suppose that the $250 million number for the value of cotton produced by slaves in 1861. A guesstimate of U.S. GDP at the time was $4.6 billion (source, in which it is noted that the $8.3 billion number for 1869 might be good, but earlier numbers are extrapolations).

Also, if slaves guarantee long-term wealth, why aren’t the other parts of the world that had a lot of slaves in the mid-19th century very rich today?

Most of the exhibits consist of “artifact plus explanatory written sign” that would have been familiar to a visitor to the British Museum circa 1759. And the collection is actually kind of short on artifacts, so much of the experience becomes reading while standing in a crowd. Will this be compelling for visitors in 25 years after everyone has grown up wearing AR glasses?

That said, there are some cool artifacts. A Stearman open-cockpit biplane trainer used by the Tuskegee Airmen:

The most shocking revelation to me was that the future P-51 fighter pilots were also doing needlepoint:

A KKK hood from New York and Chuck Berry’s Cadillac:

An updated touch-screen lunch counter for sit-ins:

The museum explicitly notes that “the critical role played by women in the Civil Rights Movement has not received enough recognition,” that attention should be paid to a “black lesbian feminist group,” and that the Third World Women’s Alliance “encouraged women to recognize their ‘triple jeopardy’: racism, imperialism, and sexism.”

After telling visitors that women are important, the museum shows that one man’s achievements far exceed those of all women collectively:

The shrine to Barack Obama, whose connection to formerly enslaved African Americans is never explained, continues in the bookstore:

A giftshop section “Because of Her Story” does not come close to tilting the scales in favor of women against Barack Obama:

(Unrelated, but fun:

)

Does black gay man beat black straight woman in the Victimhood Order of Hands? If so, the museum is ready:

African Americans are the group whose prosperity is most injured by low-skill immigration (Harvard study) and the museum notes that “Caribbean immigration increased 1,000 percent from 50 years earlier.”

(Result: lower wages, but some awesome calypso albums.)

The art museum part of the museum has some great pieces that are conventionally organized and presented:

The first African American to star in a TV drama is a challenge for the curators:

Fortunately, we will always have Oprah:

Full post, including comments

Should judges who approve racial discrimination have to explain the system to children?

“Harvard Admissions Process Does Not Discriminate Against Asian-Americans, Judge Rules” (nytimes) describes how an Obama-appointed judge approved of Harvard’s system of admitting students based on race. (The NYT headline is interesting; it would be more accurate to say that the judge ruled that she didn’t care whether Harvard discriminated against Asians or that the judge ruled that Harvard did discriminate against Asians, but that they did so with her blessing.)

Here’s my comment:

A Whirlpool factory service guy showed up today to fix the refrigerator (failed in early September after three weeks; soonest service appointment was today, Oct 1). He turned out to be an immigrant from South Korea whose job now is cleaning up after all of the appliance failures experienced by American McMansion-dwellers.

I would love to see the judge explain to his children why they will need to work harder and score higher than children of other races in order to get into a college that is at least partially funded with taxes paid by their appliance repairman dad.

Assuming that other factors are equal, the child of an investment banker with the correct skin color will be admitted by Harvard ahead of the Korean-American child of an appliance technician.

Readers: What do you think? Would judges be less likely to approve of racial discrimination if they had to explain to the young targets of the discrimination how it was going to work?

[Separately, why is it okay for the judge to imply that a group of Asians is lacking in diversity? “In her decision, Judge Burroughs defended the benefits of diversity … ‘The rich diversity at Harvard and other colleges and universities and the benefits that flow from that diversity,’ she added, ‘will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.'” Isn’t the implication that if we assemble white and black Americans we have “rich diversity,” but if we assemble a group of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, and Indian students we have a boring monoculture?]

Related:

  • https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2019/09/18/why-is-it-difficult-to-make-a-reliable-refrigerator/ (background on the refrigerator saga; the $2,600 Kitchenaid failed after three weeks; the tech today said that it was an example of “Monday morning or Friday afternoon assembly,” with a thermometer that is supposed to control the coil defrost cycle in the wrong place and some blue tape left improperly in the fridge evaporator section. He thought that it would have been easy to see at the factory that the unit had been assembled improperly, so there was at least a deficiency in inspection)
  • “Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard,” a paper by economists at Duke, University of Georgia, and University of Oklahoma; Harvard is not seeking out “students of color” because they grew up poor: “disadvantaged African Americans receive virtually no tip for being disadvantaged” (the (Harvard grad) friend who sent me this article concluded “being black confers the same advantage as giving the school over $1 million”)
  • Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Supreme Court held that University of Michigan could discriminate on the basis of race (against a white woman), but Sandra Day O’Connor wrote “race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time … [the] Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”
Full post, including comments

Why haven’t Democrats realized their own goals in Democrat-run states?

U.S. states are sovereign, have the authority to impose income, wealth, and consumption taxes, can borrow money, can make it illegal for employees to work for less than a threshold wage (and also illegal for an employer to pay more than a limit wage?), handle law enforcement and criminal justice for most issues, etc.

Why haven’t states run by Democrats achieved at least most of the social justice agenda that Democrats say they want?

Consider income inequality. California, for example, has a top income tax rate of 13.3 percent and a minimum wage of $12/hour. There is no reason the state income tax rate couldn’t be 30 percent with a minimum wage of $20/hour, right? (California Democrat and Presidential candidate Tom Steyer says that he wants a higher minimum wage that is a “living wage,” which would be roughly $50/hour in California to lift a family above the welfare eligibility thresholds.) That would narrow the spending power inequality (can be a measurement challenge) considerably, a goal that is related to the “income equality” goal that Democrats say is important to them.

(Same deal here in Massachusetts. Off-the-charts support for reducing income inequality and, simultaneously, among the highest levels of inequality in the U.S. Nobody in Washington, D.C. could prevent us from establishing a progressive income tax, raising wealth/property taxes, etc. and redistributing the money to poor residents. Yet we don’t do it, nor do we raise our minimum wage from $12 to $15 (or $20!)/hour.)

One objection to high tax rates is that people will move to avoid them. Yet Sweden was comfortable with this during its experiment with high tax rates back in the 1970s. If rich citizens moved to Monaco, the happy middle class Swedes said “good riddance.”

(Swedes experienced with multi-national business on our recent Northwest Passage cruise said that Sweden now has lower effective tax rates than the U.S. The nominal personal income tax rate in Sweden is comparable to Federal+California, but executive or entrepreneur Swedes are generally able to avoid this by turning what would have been ordinary income into capital gains.)

Democrats (e.g., Kamala Harris and Tom Steyer) say that they want a universal health care system. One third of Californians are already on Medicaid (“Medi-Cal”). Californians older than 65 should be on Medicare. Why not use the revenues from the above higher tax rates to automatically enroll everyone else on Medi-Cal and they can use it if they don’t have employer-provided insurance?

California Democrat Kamala Harris says that she wants free four-year public college (PBS). Why couldn’t California’s legislature vote to eliminate tuition at the University of California and Cal State?

Democrats say that they don’t want children to inherit wealth from parents. States have the power to impose estate taxes and a bunch do. Why wouldn’t the Democrats who control California change the state constitution to enable the collection of an estate tax?

California Democrats say that they would like less car-emitted pollution. They have the power to impose high annual registration fees on older high-pollution cars, highway tolls that are partially based on emissions output, and congestion fees to eliminate urban traffic jams. Yet they don’t do any of these things and instead blame the federal government for not letting them dictate emissions standards for new vehicles (which would do nothing to get a 20-year-old high-pollution car off the California roads).

Related:

Full post, including comments