The New York Crank came out
for an excess wealth tax even
before a 2007 post on the topic
that included this picture, stolen
from the former Billionaires for
Listen, I hate to say I was there first.
I don’t want to thump my chest and hoot and holler and say I’m the inventor of the newest new thing.
I don’t want to make plagiarism accusations about Thomas Piketty, whose hot “new” idea (a perfectly valid one) is to fix many of society’s economic and social justice ills with a huge tax on wealth.
But let’s face the facts, Tommy Boy. The New York Crank was there first. Which makes the idea mine while it makes you merely one of my word-multiplying camp followers.
This cranky blog was advocating a humongous tax on wealth since June 29, 2007, when a post in this space was headlined, “Rich people behaving badly, or why America may need an ‘excess personal wealth’ tax. Read these tales and retch.”
I stated the case for taxing excess wealth again, only a few weeks later, on June 18, 2007, in a New York Crank post headlined, “Still not convinced America needs and excess wealth tax on multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires? Check out this hair-curling super-rich dude.”
I drove home the point still another time on Valentine’s Day, 2008, with a post entitled, “Does America need an excess wealth tax? Don’t even dare thinking about renting another yacht until you read this.”
On September 7th, 2010, this blog bore the headline, “Filthy rich people behaving like swine–still more reason for a 90 percent tax bracket.” (I know, I know, Piketty is advocating a tax just on accumulated wealth, not incomes, but c’mon. How do you think wealth gets accumulated in the first place? Even if you say wealth is generated by property, the wealth initially comes in the form of income.)
There were also some blog posts that referred to the idea, without spelling it out in the headline. One, way back on July 03, 2007 featured the photograph above and the headline, “No comments needed, but I’ll give you a few anyway.”
Another post, on July 18 of last year, over a photograph of a guillotine said, “Here’s more evidence that America desperately needs an excess wealth tax – unless we want to see a return of this contraption.”
Speaking of head-severing contraptions, I’ve suggested here more than once that sooner or later, if the rich keep greedily holding to their “Let-‘em-eat-cake” mentality, they might indeed suffer the fate of Marie Antoinette. Or something like her fate. Personally, I’m charmed by the idea of a guillotine at the corner of Wall and Broad, directly in front of the New York Stock Exchange, simply for its symbolic eloquence in that spot.
If you haven’t read Piketty’s book, find out why it’s important that you do in Paul Krugman’s article, “Why We’re in a New Gilded Age.” I’m generously recommending you read Krugman’s piece even though Krugman never thought for a millisecond of recommending The New York Crank, but hey, I play fair, even among people who pander purloined ideas.
And then go buy the book that expands on the original purloined Cranky idea. Trust me, this book will do more to very slowly but eventually change the course of economic history than 50 Occupy Wall Street mobs of kids who vanished when couldn’t figure out what they stood for in the long run.