When Starbucks founder Howard Schultz announced a few days ago that he was exploring a 2020 run for President as a “centrist independent,” progressive social media exploded with reasons to reconsider.

Well, progressive social media wants only progressives to run, knowing full well that an attractive centrist Democrat would probably win 40 states, considering Trump fatigue on the right.

A chief objection is the reality that Jill Stein, running as the Green Party candidate in 2016, took enough votes from the Democrat to propel the Present Occupant into the White House.

Bad analogy. Stein ran to the left of Clinton; Shultz would be running to the right of whoever the Dems pull out of their current clown car of declared candidates. The dynamics are totally different.

Schultz’s trial balloon is likely to sink under its burden of self-regard, the billionaire’s blithe belief that wealth qualifies him for office.

This is slander. Schultz never said his wealth qualifies him for office. His qualification for office is his record of success in building and running large complex organizations.

So what interests me most is not handicapping Schultz’s chances or joining the legions exhorting him not to run, but getting to the root of his absurd ambitions

Hmmmmm. Why is it not absurd for, say, a US Senator, who has very limited experience in organizational management, to run for POTUS, but absurd for someone who has that experience to run? Is your bias simply that they have not come up “properly” through the political process?

To be honest, I have a serious problem with individuals who wish to layer on nonConstitutional “soft” requirements for candidacy, especially towards those who want to deify politicians by rejecting anyone who has *not* been a politician. We are all citizens, and we all deal, more or less equally, with the decisions government foists upon us. And since we ALL depend on businesses to feed us (most of us through our wage as employees, but some of us on welfare paid for by taxes on wages paid by others) I would argue that the least qualified individuals would be candidates like Harris or Klobouchar, whose backgrounds has been largely isolated from (a) management of large organizations and (b) corporate/business matters.

I can’t think of anything that expresses it better than this quote from Paulo Freire’s masterpiece, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It explains the confidence of those like Schultz who believe their personal wealth and wisdom make them uniquely qualified to save the world.

Well, there’s the second time you’ve raised this straw man.

It explains why despite so much evidence to the contrary, they are certain they know better.

Rather than pulling an abstract quote from an obscure educational philosopher, please provide a quote from Schultz where he states that he knows better than anyone else.

Four more years of the madmen in the White House may not do irreparable damage to Schultz’s bottom line; it’s impossible to believe he’s given full weight to the damage others are likely to sustain.

We’re now two years into the “sky is falling” predictions about the Trump Administration. It’s obviously far more chaotic and personality-driven than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, but so far, (a) the sky is still in place, (b) there is no reason to think it’s going to fall, and (c ) economic conditions have continued to improve.

Forgive me if I don’t join you in panic, either for the current POTUS, or should Schultz somehow be elected.

But no matter how gifted, such individuals cannot advance freedom and justice unless they commit “class suicide,” dying to the privileged class of their birth — for instance, by taking a step with no return — and thus sacrificing privilege and power in favor of full identification with the oppressed.

I’m trying to think of a single significant politician in my lifetime (I’m 64) who fills that bill. Nobody comes to mind.

However, I don’t agree with the basic premise, which seems to be that individuals of a certain socioeconomic class will never take action which advantages another class and disadvantages their own. US History is replete with individuals who have done just that.

A good first step would be to come out in favor of the wealth tax ideas put forward by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren, nicely explained in this column by Jamelle Bouie.

The assumption on these ideas, from the left, seems to be that these notions should be accepted as “good ideas” uncritically, simply because they disadvantage one class. I find this POV unbecoming for individuals who believe they are intelligent.

However, these are not just “ideas”, but arithmetic; and even more, it is arithmetic with unknown consequences. Putting aside for a moment that a “wealth tax” is likely unconstitutional, all taxes change the behavior of those who are being taxed. This change in behavior (a) affects the amount that is actually collected, and (b) changes buying and investment behavior. (A) is actually predictable based on prior history, while (b) is less so.

Sweden, back in the early 1980’s, had a 93% marginal rate on high levels of income. That rate has since been abandoned, with their highest marginal rate now set (IIRC) at 57%. Why? Because it collected an insignificant amount of tax (the rich have control over how they get their money, after all) and slowed the economy, as money that previously was put to work in the economy in the form of investment was allowed to accrue in vehicles that did were not taxed until liquidated.

The problem with wealth taxes is similar; wealth goes flying out of the country into various vehicles, both legal and illegal, where it can accrue unbothered by the greedy hands of leftists (liberals, btw, would never support anything like a wealth tax — let’s make that distinction now). It doesn’t matter where it goes; what matters is that (a) the world economy is way too complex for the US government to find it and tax it, and (b) it’s not being invested in US business activity.

And that’s why taxation, historically, must be considered by the people to be “reasonable”. The moment it’s NOT considered reasonable, compliance drops. Ask Greece how that works.

The Republican right frames a top tax rate of 70 percent for the wealthiest as highway robbery, but that was actually the rate from the mid-1940s through the 1970s. So rather than advocating unprecedented radical redistribution, present-day economic reformers are simply calling for a return to policies that kept the wealth gap far smaller than today’s egregious reality

The above are several lies constructed on truth.

LIE ONE: We’ve done this 70% rate thing before and everything was fine. Although it’s quite true that we’ve had marginal rates of 70% (and more) previously, the tax code AT THAT TIME was constructed to allow individuals means to shelter income into “investments” which drastically lowered the Adjusted Gross Incomes of the individuals.

The movement to return to those former tax rates, unsurprisingly, never includes any provisions to re-establish those legal tax shelters.

But regardless, the largest problem with the proposal is that it simply doesn’t take in that much money. Leftists like Ocasio-Cortez seem to believe that the US can have a european-style social benefits package paid for only by the rich. The problem is that there simply aren’t that many rich people. Politifact writes this:

How many people make enough to be hit by a higher tax rate on $10 million in income?

Very few. Citing federal data, Mark Mazur, director of the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, said it would amount to 16,000 Americans. That’s a tiny share of the 127 million households in the United States. That 16,000 would include a lot of superstar athletes, entertainers and hedge-fund financiers.

The 70% marginal proposal, on raw numbers, would taken in 72B dollars per year, but history shows that the actual receipts of a theoretical tax increase are usually 2/3 of the raw estimate, as people change their behavior to protect their income from taxes. 2/3 of 72B is 47B per year.

To put that in perspective, the Obama increase in top marginal rate from 35% to 39.6% took in about 60B per year; the cleanup cost for Superstorm Sandy was 65B. And the lowest estimated price tag for the Green New Deal is 4 TRILLION per year, meaning that the likely “take” from a 70% marginal rate is slightly greater than 1% of that total cost.

It’s also worth mentioning that economic recessions occurred almost twice as often under the prior high marginal rate regime than they have subsequently. (See the GINI chart below. The grey lines are recessions.)

LIE TWO: Redistribution is solvable though higher taxes.

Let’s have a look at income inequality in the US historically:

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As you’ve already mentioned, top marginal rates have swung around from 70% down to 28% back to 39.6% down to 35% during the period from 1968 to today.

And all inequality has down during that period is go up….and up…..and up…. proving that tax rates having nothing to do with inequality.

Freire was right.The spoilers like Schultz who claim to be for the public good but sacrifice nothing to see it enacted, those whose self-importance swamps their often formidable intelligence, are rooted in economic privilege.

So, since intelligence, education, and economic privilege go hand in hand….(just look at how many politicians — — including Democrats — go into office as people of moderate means, but come out wealthy) you think we should be governed by those who are uneducated and in poverty?

The possession of wealth does not cancel empathy or disqualify one from leadership any more than poverty always amplifies empathy or promotes leadership.

Which is precisely why Schultz can’t be disqualified based on his business success.

The Present Occupant’s many campaign promises to restore manufacturing jobs and otherwise relieve the suffering of working people were 21st-century reenactments of John D. Rockefeller passing out shiny new dimes to everyone he met. The meta-statement each gesture made is this: I’m rich and you’re not. I have the power and you don’t.

Well, I do not have your ability to read the mind of others to understand their base motivations. What I do know is that the person who had a manufacturing job, then didn’t, and now has one again ….

….doesn’t really care what Trump’s base motivations are.

One wonders how people like yourself will react if conditions in their country of residence were actually BAD, rather than how they presently are in the US.

Written by

Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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