Don’t tax you; don’t tax me; tax that fellow behind the tree.

–Russell B. Long, U.S. Senator from Louisiana

Don’t tax you; do tax me; and tax the folks that disagree with me.

–David R. Henderson, interpreting the thoughts of 18 wealthy Americans.


A recent open letter from 17 wealthy Americans willing to identify themselves and one American who was unwilling to do so has gotten a lot of attention.

In it, they make a case for higher taxes on very wealthy Americans like themselves and, apparently, on Americans who are wealthy, but much less wealthy than some of the signers. Abigail Disney, for example, one of the signers, has a net worth of about $500 million. Chris Hughes, another signer, has a net worth of about $500 million. George Soros, another signer, has a net worth of $8 billion. (I could have done a more-thorough listing, but time constraints got in the way. The net worths for some of them were actually difficult to find.)

They write:

We are writing to call on all candidates for President, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, to support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest 1/10 of the richest 1% of Americans — on us.

The cutoff for the richest 1/10 of 1%, they claim, is a net worth of $50 million and they appear to endorse Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a 2% tax on wealth above $50 million and an additional 1% tax on wealth over $1 billion.

In short, some of them are advocating that people with substantially lower net worths than they have be taxed more. More generally, they advocate that everyone with a net worth of more than $50 million should be taxed more.

That’s why the title of their letter is so misleading and why I have interpreted their letter to say what they really mean.

Interestingly, one of them, Molly Munger, actually spent money on a campaign to tax middle-class people more.

If they really wished to impose taxes only on themselves, they could do the equivalent–give more money to the feds–without any new legislation.

Here’s the form. You’re welcome, rich people. And you’re welcome, other rich people who think they will spend their money more wisely than the feds do.