Glenn Reynolds has been making hay with a proposal to raise taxes on a rich elite:
My proposal was to put a surtax — 50%, say, or maybe 75% — on the post-government earnings of federal officials in excess of their government salaries for the first five years: Leave a federal job paying $100,000 a year for an industry job paying $600,000 a year, and you’d pay a $250,000 surtax. After all, with folks leaving the Obama administration, as they left previous administrations, for salaries several times what they earned in the public sector, and with excessive entanglement between government and business a growing problem, why not use the power of the IRS to modify behavior?
Obviously a great idea. Not because I like discriminatory taxes, and not because I like to take away the perks that people earn through their jobs (I approve of insider trading, for example), but because it’s a wonderful hack on the incentives system.
Let’s practice some arguments:
- The institutions that support this elite are paid for by the tax-payer, the connections that Government elites make during their career in them is therefore an asset created by tax-payers and we deserve our fair share.
- The institutions of government are like roads for scumbag lobbyists to get around. The tax-payer funds roads and road users are all expected to pay our share for them, why shouldn’t people who cruise between public sector institutions pay a contribution towards them afterwards?
- This is a limited and proportionate measure to tackle corruption, we aren’t tyrants and there are no plans of any kind to increase the tax-window to beyond five years.
- A tax of 50% is completely affordable, it actually represents a tiny fraction of lobbyist’s overall revenue.
- We punish bankers with high taxes, why not punish fat-cat public sector elites and scumbag lobbyists with taxes too?
None of those arguments respect the Rule of Law, Equality Before The Law or Individual Rights. A principled Parliament and press and a politically educated people would toss them out, but we have none of those things. It’s possible though, that by attacking the corrupt parasites in the public sector that they may start to argue for the Rule of Law, true equality and individual rights? Maybe, as they die by their own swords they’ll see the error of their ways.