by Simon Black
Herodes Atticus was born in the year 101 AD into a wealthy family in Greece, which at the time was part of the Roman Empire.
During Emperor Hadrian’s rule, Herodes petitioned for public funds to build a proper water system in the famed city of Troy.
When the water system cost more than double what Herodes had estimated, Hadrian expressed his displeasure.
But Herodes’ father wrote to Hadrian, saying “Do not, O Emperor, allow yourself to be irritated over such trifles. The amount spent in excess of 3,000,000 [drachmas] I am presenting to my son, and my son will present to the city.”
(3 million ancient Greek drachmas is roughly $11 million US dollars today.)
It was actually common practice at the time for wealthy citizens to take on public works projects using their own wealth. And Herodes continued the tradition.
He built aqueducts to bring clean water to the city of Olympia, and sponsored the construction of pools meant to heal the sick at Thermopylae. He built stadiums and theaters and threw feasts and festivals for the people, all at his own expense.
And for his contributions, Herodes was honored and praised.
The people celebrated him, and built a statue in his honor. He went down in history as one of the biggest philanthropists of his day.
Today, people in the completely tolerant and mostly peaceful Left, do the opposite— they shame and ridicule the wealthy for their contributions to society.
For example, last year when the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos pledged billions of dollars to improve the earth’s climate, an editorial in The Guardian asked: Why doesn’t Jeff Bezos pay more tax instead of launching a $10bn green fund?
The message was clear: no amount of philanthropy is good enough. It’s only acceptable if Bezos hands over his money to the government first, so that politicians can squander most of it on wasteful bureaucracy and corrupt self-dealing.
Ironically, Bezos was actually ready and willing to pay more taxes when he chose to build a second Amazon headquarters (‘HQ2’) in New York City.
HQ2 would have been a bonanza of tax revenue for New York.
But AOC and her merry band of Marxists were having none of that. Because Amazon’s HQ2 would have received a federal tax break, they poopoo’d the deal and chased Amazon out of town.
Goodbye 25,000 high-paying jobs. Goodbye $500 million per year in local tax revenue.
Now New York is facing a $15 billion budget deficit fueled in part by wealthy people and prominent businesses fleeing the state for more tax friendly places like Florida and Texas.
But rather than cut spending or give wealthy people incentive to stay, New York’s Emperor Cuomo wants to raise the state income tax on the wealthy to 10.86%, up from 8.82%.
Talk about a bad idea. According to IRS data and the Tax Foundation, the top 1% of income earners pay almost 40% of state and federal taxes.
Raising taxes will only chase away more of them.
But politicians deny this simple truth. They think they can raise taxes on the rich and there won’t be any consequences, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, for example, is back on her high horse, demanding a 2% annual wealth tax on rich Americans.
However, when a CNBC anchor asked Warren if she had concerns that the wealth tax would make Americans leave the country, Warren scoffed, saying:
“I’m sorry, there is no evidence that anyone is going to leave this country because of a [wealth tax]… you’re telling me that they would forfeit their American citizenship… and I’m just calling your bluff on that. I’m sorry that’s not going to happen.”
Really? No evidence?
What about the 6,000+ Americans who renounced their citizenship during the first nine months of 2020 (versus only roughly 2,000 Americans who renounced in all of 2019).
37,000 Americans have renounced since 2010, and the trend has been growing ever since around halfway through the Obama presidency.
There are 9 million American expats currently living overseas, and about 23% report seriously considering renouncing their American citizenship. Much of their reasoning is tax-related.
But Warren dismisses this evidence entirely.
To her, the 37,000 people who have already renounced their citizenship don’t exist, nor do the 23% of expats who are considering renouncing. It must be fake news.
She can’t possibly imagine a world where her decisions have a negative impact.
Her way of thinking is also quite instructive. Just look at what she’s saying— ‘we can do whatever we want to successful people, raise their taxes to whatever we want, and they’re just going to have to take it.’
That’s pretty scary.
And this trend is only going to continue as the Bolsheviks think of new ways to punish successful people.
Because, for them, it’s not just about the tax revenue. It’s about shame and ridicule.
AOC tells her Twitter following, for example, that wealthy people “don’t MAKE a billion dollars. They TAKE a billion dollars.”
She thinks earning money from willing customers is theft. But the government taking money by force is righteous. THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE!
These people are totally clueless… and yet they’re the ones in charge. Nothing we do will change that fact.
But what does make a difference is taking rational, legal steps to distance yourself from their insanity.
Tax is a great example. No matter what crazy legislation these politicians pass, almost EVERYONE still has completely legitimate ways to reduce their tax bills.
For example, you can take advantage of retirement plan tax incentives; and it’s hard to imagine anyone would be worse off paying less tax and having more money set aside for retirement.
Or someone could take advantage of Opportunity Zones, captive insurance companies, or the incredible incentives in Puerto Rico (and US Virgin Islands).
Point is- there are plenty of options. But you have to educate yourself and take action… because Elizabeth Warren and AOC certainly won’t find the deductions for you.