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  • Writer's pictureJohn Spritzler

JUST TAX THE RICH MORE?

Russel Brand's heart seems, in his video online here about the recent billionaires' pow wow at Davos, to be on the side of the angels, and compared to many people he is a very sharp and astute observer of how the rich lie and deceive to hold onto their immense wealth while appearing to be giving it away, as his video here about the Davos billionaires certainly illustrates. And yet, for all of that, I think Russel Brand is a bit naive. Here's what I mean.

Brand calls for much more taxation of the rich. Sure, it wouldn't hurt to tax the rich more. But it won't solve the problem that the rich retain the real power in society and treat us like dirt to maintain it. Taxing the rich but leaving them in possession of billion dollar fortunes (which all the taxation proposals in the offing would do, and which President Eisenhower's "90%" marginal tax on the rich--a tax that was higher than what Bernie Sanders proposes, by the way--obviously did) leaves the billionaires with the real power in society. Why?

Because in any society like ours that is based on money, on the buying and selling of things and the hiring of people as employees by employers, MONEY IS POWER. Possessing a lot of money means having the power to buy lots of people, either by hiring them as employees or bribing politicians. (Note, the bribes can take many different forms, from a personal bribe of money or a cushy job for a relative, to an outright threat such as "If you pass this law I don't like then I'll move my corporation out of your state and you'll be blamed for the loss of jobs.) When taxation leaves some people extremely rich in a society based on money, then it leaves those few rich people with the real control of the key institutions of society regardless of the trappings (like elections) of one-person-one-vote so-called democracy.

Furthermore, even if tax laws are passed that result in there no longer being billionaires or even multi-millionaires (highly unlikely as long as the billionaires have their billions!), guess what? As long as our society remains one based on money and capitalist principles (such as the principle that the goal of an economic enterprise is to make a profit for the owners of it rather than to provide a service or product according to need to those in the society who contribute reasonably according to ability) then eventually some person (like the original John D. Rockefeller in the 19th century) will, with a bit of luck and cleverness, amass a small fortune and use the little bit of extra power it provides him/her to manipulate people in and out of government to grow that fortune a bit larger, and use the larger amount of power to grow the fortune even larger until we're right back where we are now with the obscene inequality of Goldman Sachs banks and Jeff Bezos billionaires.

What Russel Brand fails to say in this video is that we need a fundamental change in the nature of our society--an egalitarian revolution ( https://www.pdrboston.org/what-is-an-egalitarian-revolution ) and not simply some new "tax on the rich."

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