Davis on Saez and Zucman
By David Henderson
We can only hope that in their forthcoming book on tax justice, Saez and Zucman will say the things they didn’t say in their op-ed. We can hope that they’ll help us with two empirical questions. First, what was really happening in the era of high rates? Second, why don’t they think we should worry about how taxes will affect growth? Furthermore, we can hope that they will explain their underlying philosophical position—what do they mean by “justice,” and why do they think we should share their views?
But as important as anything else, they need to acknowledge that they’re really arguing for an enormous increase in the power of the state. Though progressives talk incessantly about the distribution of income and wealth, they seem to be more concerned with the distribution of power. Any plan for income redistribution—certainly any plan of the magnitude imagined by Saez and Zucman—necessarily requires a powerful government. Income redistribution doesn’t simply take purchasing power from people with lots of money and give that power to people with less power. It establishes the government as a grand agent, taking power from some citizens and granting power to others.
These two paragraphs are from the March Econlib Feature Article, published this morning. It’s titled “Tax Justice” and is authored by Michael L. Davis, who is a senior lecturer in business economics at the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.
I recommend reading the whole thing.