Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Rich Aren't Rich Enough

After reading an article at Canfield Press (linked below) describing America's slide from a wealth creation nation to a wealth transfer state, I remembered a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago about waiting tables as a method of illustrating the flaw in collectivist thinking. That got me thinking about the whole "fair share" argument when it comes to taxing the rich. Setting aside the fact that our tax base largely comes from a relatively small part of the populaton, I wondered just how much more "just a little more" really was. How much would represent a "fair share"? Short of adding up all the numbers on Forbes' 400 list there was no definitive amoung given for the total wealth of all of America's billionaires. However, using some simple calculations of the data that was readily available, I got some interesting (though not unexpected) numbers.

The total wealth of the world's billionaires as of March 2012 was $4,600,000,000,000 (source). Dividing that by the total number of billionaires in the world (1226), that averages out to roughly $3,752,039,152 per 1%er. There are currently 425 billionaires in the United States, so a decent estimate of the total wealth of American billionaires is about $1,594,616,639,478. That certainly isn't a perfect way of estimating it, and the number could be a bit higher or a bit lower.

Now, back to that wealth transfer thing. In 2010, total spending on entitlements was about $2,200,000,000,000. This means that if we simply confiscated all the wealth of all the billionaires in the United States, it wouldn't pay for one year's worth of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and all the other programs that fall under the Entitlements umbrella. The idea that if we just raise taxes, if we just ask the rich to "pay a little more", our money problems will be solved is fantasy. We're past the point where taxation can solve our debt woes. We're passed the point where we can ignore the reality that we have to spend less money. Slowing the rate of spending growth is no longer an option. Class warfare won't fix anything. The only thing that will work is to cut budgets. All of them.

The federal budget request for 2012 included outlays of over $3,800,000,000,000 and was based on predicted revenues of just over $2,200,000,000,000. In other words, we planned on spending nearly twice as much as we planned to take in. That's not sustainable, and it's not fixable with class warfare.

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