Friday, October 31, 2008

That wealth spreader

Michael Kinsley writes a column in defense of Obama's "spread the wealth" comments and essentially asks what the big deal is. He concludes:
Although it was an off-the-cuff remark and one that Obama probably regrets, he actually put it well, avoiding the suggestion of envy or class war, which are the usual accusations about such talk. Spreading it around is "good for everybody," he says. And who disagrees? Or would you like to live behind locked gates and hire guards to protect your family from kidnapping, as in places where they spread it around even less than here?
The reference to locked gates, guards and kidnapping immediately brought to mind South Africa and I would be surprised if that wasn't the country Kinsley in fact had in mind. South Africa, however, has a top marginal tax rate of 40% that hits everyone making over 490,000 Rand ($50,000) -- significantly higher than here in the US. If you look at where all that money goes, it's largely on social spending. In other words, wealth transfer is alive and well there.

In any case Kinsley presents a false choice. I would like to see the wealth spread so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy it, and I am sure plenty of people would agree with me. I just prefer to have this done in the marketplace rather than via government action.

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