There has been a lot of frustration over the massive amount of pay, bonuses and luxuries given to the executives at failing banks which together received hundreds of billions of dollars from the U.S. government. Indeed, it leaves us asking why rich people get bailout money to pay for private jets and unnecessarily lavish Superbowl parties when working class people need bailout money just to pay for food, clothes, shelter and health care. In response, some people including President Obama have called for capping the pay of executives at banks that receive bailout money.
But the highly paid chief executive of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has asked for the taxes of executives like himself to be raised. In his op-ed entitled Please Raise My Taxes, Hastings writes, “Instead of trying to shame companies and executives, the president should take advantage of our success by using our outsized earnings to pay for the needs of our nation.”
That idea interests me. And I like when one of the very rich suggests it. At the very least, we could raise the richest people’s taxes enough so that they are no longer paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than the rest of us.
Anyway, stopping and undoing the recent economic crisis will cost a lot, but we do need to do it. The recent economic crisis has pushed many people deeper into poverty, many people into poverty and still pushes many people closer and closer to poverty. Raising the taxes of the extremely rich can help fund the costs of reversing the recent economic crisis.
However, poverty is not a new problem. Even before the economic recession, millions of Americans and billions of people worldwide lived in poverty. Even then, working class people still worked too hard for too little pay in a society riddled with corruption and social, political and economic unfairness. Even then, a lot of people were poor who would not have been poor and a lot of people were very rich who would not have been so rich had it not been for the corruption and unfairness.
I believe we can not only reverse the recent recession but also eradicate poverty completely. Just like reversing the recession, eradicating poverty will require an investment that costs a lot upfront. But that investment can permanently solve a very costly problem. In analogy, we can spend $1,000 once to fix the hole in a boat today rather than spend $10 a day to desperately scoop water out of the sinking boat.
Ideally speaking, I see a society in which nobody suffers from poverty, where people don’t go hungry and homeless down the street from an overstocked grocery store and a vacant house. In that ideal society, neither taxes nor government spending would be needed. So one could say I ideally want taxes to be reduced and even eliminated if possible. But noting the difference between theoretical ideals and practical steps, increasing taxes on the richest of the rich in our current messed up society seems like an effective and appropriate way to raise funds to make the investment to push us closer to that ideal society.