One reason why the ‘tax the rich’ rhetoric falls flat

This forum has featured discussion about the limited success of efforts to stoke class envy in America through calls to “tax the rich.”

A brief Atlantic blurb from Chrystia Freeland might explain why:

Many of today’s super-rich started out in the middle and make most of their money through work, not inheritance. Ninety-five years ago, the richest 1 percent of Americans received only 20 percent of their income from paid work; in 2004, that income proportion had tripled, to 60 percent.

These meritocrats are the winners in a winner-take-all world.

While Freeland spends time talking about the advantages this “international plutocracy” enjoys, the first line in that excerpt is crucial. It’s harder to convince voters that the rich “deserve” to be penalized when the riches are tied to work, especially if middle-class voters believe their own work can help make them rich one day.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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