I’ve been watching the French election. Hollande won. He has promised a 75% income tax on the rich and vows to, “re-negotiate a European treaty on trimming budgets to avoid more debt crises of the kind facing Greece.”
Looks like we’re selling the French stocks in the retirement funds. I’m not dealing with this s**t. Forgive me the language. Life is too precious, and too hard, to deal with thugs who don’t understand human nature and the velocity of money.
A fundamental rule of humanity is that people go where they feel secure and appreciated. I love the United States. If the United States took $75 out of every $100 I earned, do you think I would stay here? If I did, do you think I’d work anymore?
Various states within the United States have tried these policies. Maryland passed a Millionaire’s tax a few years ago. The legislature estimated an extra $106 million in tax revenue. Instead, people changed their behavior. Roughly 1 out of every 3 millionaires left the state and made their summer vacation homes their primary residences. The result was a $200 million drop in tax receipts. The state was poorer.
Sometimes, I feel like human culture is a war between producers – good, honest men and women who love their job and work very hard being teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, business managers, and start-up founders, striving to better the world and create value – and entitled parasites, who think everything should be provided. These parasites seem to believe that simply by virtue of being born they are entitled to an income, to a secure retirement, to not have to compete.
Every man is equal in human dignity. Not every man is equal by virtue of our decisions, choices, and actions. A guy who works his way through medical school, toils nights for decades until he finds the cure to an infectious disease, and licenses the cure to a pharmaceutical company deserves to be obscenely, offensively rich. He shouldn’t be “equal” with another family practice doctor who has not found a cure to a disease. He provided so much value to society, he deserves to be driving a $200,000 car and flying around in a private jet.
Such an outcome is just. It is right. That is, thus far, at this juncture in my life, I’ve provided a lot of value to society and received a lot of claim checks on that society in exchange; claims checks we call money. Steve Jobs provided much more value to society through the products he created at Apple. As such, he died much richer than I am now. Such an outcome is good. It should be this way. If want to make as much money as he did, I’ll have to find a way to provide more goods and services to people over the next few decades of my life, satisfying their needs and wants.
Entitlement is a cultural cancer. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley referencing his watershed work, Brave New Work, freedom is the right to struggle. Freedom is the right to be broke if you make bad decisions. It is the right to be fat if you eat poorly. Freedom is the right to be miserable if you have no self-control. Freedom is the right to fail. Freedom is the right to die an abject loser. Freedom gives life meaning. Without the possibility of failure, success has no meaning. As the famous saying goes, no one would enjoy golf if you were guaranteed to hit a hole-in-one every shot. There would be no point in playing.
I imagine the Germans are feeling more frustrated than ever. Hollande’s promise essentially boils down to telling the Germans, “We’re sorry. We live beyond our means. We aren’t going to cut our budgets. Give us more money.” The Euro has been a disaster. You cannot unite disperate cultures under a single currency unless the budgetary controls are also under the same authority.
Update: It took less than a few hours for major international newspapers to begin writing stories like, “Will France’s Rich Head for the Border?“.