Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat with 2020 presidential aspirations, let slip over the weekend something that she may rather have keep hidden from the public: That she doesn’t believe you necessarily own your own property.
When she called attention to the wealth of entrepreneur and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, she let loose the green-eyed monster of envy and implied that his wealth shouldn’t really be his to keep.
“This billionaire NFL owner just paid $100M for a ‘superyacht’ with its own iMax theater,” she tweeted Saturday. “I'm pretty sure he can pay my new #UltraMillionaireTax to help the millions of yacht-less Americans struggling with student loan debt.”
Warren’s tweet referred to a Washington Post article that described Snyder’s new seagoing purchase in detail.
The reason the senator even cares where he’s spending his own money is rooted in the ultra-millionaire tax she referenced in her tweet. Not satisfied with merely taxing income, her proposal would also tax net assets over $50 million, a plan she touted Friday.
“The top 0.1 percent of American families -- the richest 1 in 1,000 -– now have nearly the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent of American families combined,” she said according to Bloomberg. “Meanwhile, for everyone else, opportunity is slipping away. We need structural change to fix it.”
“For everyone else, opportunity is slipping away”…? It sounds as though she believes Snyder’s wealth somehow diminishes the success of others.
And what exactly does she want fixed? Those starting out in life today have precisely the same opportunities Snyder had when he first set out. He was born into a middle class family, and his first business venture, in partnership with his father, was a total failure.
Undeterred, he dropped out of college to launch his second venture, which earned him his first million. Today, at age 54, he has a reported net worth of approximately $2.3 billion — and Warren wants it.
Also, by concentrating on what Snyder’s yacht cost, Warren ignores what the yacht contributed to and continues to contribute to the economy — jobs, income, and the attendant wealth that comes with them.
To put the yacht together required a design team of marine architects, a shipyard of craftsmen, and a large array of independent contractors, providing the electronics, the power plant, the custom furnishings, and yes, the IMAX home, er, yacht theater.
And the contributions to the economy don’t end there, and they do so far more efficiently than by robbing from the rich to give to the poor.
Maintaining the yacht on a daily bases requires a captain and deck and engineering officers. It also needs deck and engine crew, as well as a chef and a steward staff. It also requires the services of a shipyard to perform annual maintenance. All benefit by virtue of the yacht’s existence.
Another thing Warren ignores is that wealth is mobile, making her proposal worthless. Former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., proved that with his own yacht, Isabel.
To avoid paying a $437,500 one-time sales tax to his home state, he docked the boat in neighboring tax-free Rhode Island.
Later, bowing to the heavy political backlash that resulted, he agreed to pay the tax anyway, stating, "Whether owed or not, we intend to pay the equivalent taxes as if the boat's home-port were currently in Massachusetts."
But in the extremely unlikely event Warren’s proposal were approved and signed into law, there’d be nothing to prevent Snyder from documenting the vessel under the flag of another country to avoid the net wealth tax.
And in that event, that’s exactly what most of America’s wealthy would do — especially with their liquid assets — move them out of the country, to, say, the Cayman Islands. Her tax would bring in practically nil — the law would be “sound and fury signifying nothing.”
But most disturbing is Warren’s implication that Snyder’s assets should be communal, not privately-held. She tweeted that the money spent on the yacht could have been used to pay “my new ultra-millionaire tax” (emphasis added).
That thinking is reminiscent of former President Barack Obama’s flawed reasoning of private businesses and their owners: “You didn’t build that!” he claimed.
Jealousy and avarice are the foundation of socialism: Socialists’ mantra seems to be, “You have it, I want it, so I’m going to take it.”
Envy is an ugly thing, and parading it in public view only magnifies its ugliness.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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