Please Tax Us

The Bureau of the Fiscal Service, part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, “may accept gifts donated to the United States Government to reduce debt held by the public.” These gifts may take the form of money, outstanding government obligation, or other intangible personal property. Obligations must be cashed and property must be sold “and the proceeds used to reduce the public debt.” Gifts may be from a living person or a bequest in a will.

You can make a contribution to reduce the debt online at Pay.gov via “credit card, debit card, PayPal, checking account, or savings account.” Or “you can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, and, in the memo section, notate that it’s a gift to reduce the debt held by the public.”

For fiscal year 2019, which doesn’t end until September 30, $4,686,987.27 has been donated to the federal government. That’s right, Americans have voluntarily given over $4 million to the federal government so far this fiscal year. The Free Society Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $15.96 Buy New $19.95 (as of 01:40 EST - Details)

So, why do I bring this up? I do have a reason besides to say that people who donate money to the federal government are nuttier than any nut in a nuthouse.

A group of the super-rich recently issued “An Open Letter to the 2020 Presidential Candidates: It’s Time to Tax Us More.” It says in part:

We are writing to call on all candidates for president, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest 1/10 of the richest 1 percent of Americans—on us. The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.

America has a moral, ethical, and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more. A wealth tax could help address the climate crisis, improve the economy, improve health outcomes, fairly create opportunity, and strengthen our democratic freedoms. Instituting a wealth tax is in the interest of our republic.

The group is in favor of a wealth tax because it

  • is a powerful tool for solving our climate crisis,
  • is an economic winner for America,
  • will make Americans healthier,
  • is fair,
  • strengthens American freedom and democracy,
  • is patriotic.

The letter was signed by Louise J. Bowditch, Robert S. Bowditch, Abigail Disney, Sean Eldridge, Stephen R. English, Agnes Gund, Catherine Gund, Nick Hanauer, Arnold Hiatt, Chris Hughes, Molly Munger, Regan Pritzker, Justin Rosenstein, Stephen M. Silberstein, Ian T. Simmons, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Alexander Soros, George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, and  one coward who wished to remain anonymous.

So, why don’t these super-rich who want to be taxed more just voluntarily give more of their money to the federal government via the Bureau of the Fiscal Service? They could each give $4 million a year and never miss it.

Better yet, why don’t these 1 percent of the 1 percent give away their money to food banks to end hunger in America and make Americans healthier? Why don’t they buy everyone electric cars to solve the climate crisis? Why don’t they repair our crumbling road and bridge infrastructure? Why don’t they give every child a voucher to attend the school of his choice? Why don’t they build new schools where there are no good ones? Why don’t they give all the people who are unemployed jobs at their companies or foundations? Why don’t they pay for everyone to go to college? Why don’t they subsidize companies so that they can give all their low-wage workers a raise to $15 an hour? To improve health outcomes, why don’t they build more hospitals and clinics and pay the salaries of doctors and nurses to staff them? Why don’t they build housing for the homeless?

Why give your money to the government so the government can inefficiently and wastefully do these things (assuming that the government will actually do them) after government bureaucrats take their cut?

One of the signers, Abigail Disney, was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered by Ari Shapiro about the letter. Shapiro actually asked Disney a question about this very thing:

SHAPIRO: If you and your cohort of wealthy individuals gave your money to philanthropic causes instead of being taxed, you could direct it to education or homelessness or whatever your cause may be. Why would you rather see it go to the federal government? Gun Control and the Se... Laurence M. Vance Buy New $5.95 (as of 05:20 EST - Details)

DISNEY: Here’s the world I want to live in. I want to live in a world that doesn’t need philanthropy. And if Jeff Bezos earned less and paid his people more and didn’t have $37 billion to put into a philanthropy and figure out what to do with, there really wouldn’t be that much of the philanthropy that was needed. I would rather not to be needed as a philanthropist. And I will never stop feeding the hungry and housing the homeless and all the other things that I want to do.

She didn’t answer the question.

In the world in which we live in right now, millions of people in the United States are supposedly hungry, homeless, sick, and economically disadvantaged. If the super-rich want to help these people, then why don’t they put their money where their mouth is and do it? Why involve the government? And why do they want the government to force their super-rich brethren to be philanthropic?

Sounds like they think that government is the solution to every problem. At least in this instance, Ronald Reagan was right: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” (first inaugural address).