Sticking up for the 1 percent

The latest Fortune magazine profiles Paul Singer, who’s described both as an “elite” money manager and presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “hedge fund kingmaker.”

Among the topics discussed is Singer’s confidential quarterly report:

In the most recent report, dated Jan. 23, 2012, Singer takes on the tax debate that promises to be a defining issue of the presidential race in a lengthy section called “Taxes and the 1%.” Singer writes that “income inequality has become a wedge issue.” He then quotes a 2007 Treasury Department study on income mobility that shows that “more than half the households in the top 1% were not there nine years earlier.”

Folks in this “vilified club” should not be punished by paying more taxes, Singer’s argument goes, since there’s no way of knowing what their “fair share” of taxes should be or if the 1% will continue to be in that tax bracket for long. The billionaire shows little sympathy for the plight of the 99%. “Resentment is not morally superior to earning money,” writes Singer. What is a “moral failing,” according to him, is “depreciation in paper money’s value.”

Even his admirers admit that Singer is, to put it gently, extremely confident in his own opinions. And his writings do little to refute that view. For example, Singer comes close to calling government officials stupid. “It is not exactly that we think they are particularly idiotic,” he says, referring to the Federal Reserve. “The problem is that they are in way over their heads.”

One of Singer’s more familiar bugaboos is Dodd-Frank, which he says “enshrines” too-big-to-fail institutions. Singer favors more transparency and tougher margin requirements for the big banks. He also worries that the newly created Resolution Authority, a government agency designed to wind down failing financial institutions at the lowest cost to the taxpayer, trumps bankruptcy law. As Singer puts it, Dodd-Frank “will diminish the predictability and protections of the rule of law.”

It’s nice to see someone who’s unafraid of challenging the Occupy Movement’s misguided attacks on the “1 percent.”

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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