Libtalker Thom Hartmann sees "billionaire" as synonymous with "criminal" and would prohibit any person in America from owning more than $1 billion in wealth.
Hartmann uncorked his fanciful wish on his radio show Thursday while citing a letter by Thomas Jefferson to justify his views. (audio clips after page break)
Machinations of the wealthy have resulted in a "rigged game" against workers and the middle class, Hartmann claimed, and all wealth beyond $1 billion should be confiscated "to help those of us who have less" (audio) --
I started my rant about billionaires earlier, at the beginning of the hour, let me just finish it really quickly. I think we should have a wealth tax in the United States and I think all wealth over $1 billion should be taxed at the 100 percent rate. If you can't make it on a thousand million dollars, a billion dollars is a million dollars a thousand times, if you can't make it on a billion dollars, well, there is no therefore. There's nobody who can't make it on a billion dollars. So, any wealth over a billion dollars, a hundred percent of it goes to help those of us who have less. You can call it redistribution of wealth, that's fine, I am perfectly comfortable with that language. I think we should outlaw billionaires.
When the exceedingly well-heeled decamp for less confiscatory climes should your radical scheme ever get enacted, would you want walls to stop them, Thom? You know, like your soulmates did in East Berlin back in '61.
Shortly after setting the bar for theft by taxation at a billion dollars, Hartmann settled on a far lower figure (audio) --
I keep thinking of this, this surgeon who operated on my wife, you know, who took out her breast cancer. And, you know, we sat in this guy's office, he was I would guess in his sixties, a very courtly, gentlemanly, brilliant surgeon, very well regarded, and the guy probably makes three, four hundred thousand dollars a year, I'm guessing. And, and he spent his entire life doing this and he spent, you know, his young adulthood, you know, learning how to do this. And why should anybody make any more money than him?
Over the course of a decade, the doctor mentioned by Hartmann would earn $4 million, assuming he makes the high end in Hartmann's estimation. Multiple that by a career spanning five decades, also a conservative assumption, and that doctor would earn $20 million. So much for Hartmann's billion-dollar threshold for wealth that he was espousing all of an hour earlier. Such is the capricious nature of left-wing economics.
Hartmann read from an 1825 letter by Jefferson to bolster his contention and warned that America could be heading for "something like the Bolshevik revolution," albeit not in his lifetime (audio) --
HARTMANN: This takes me back to this letter by Jefferson (to William Branch Giles). He said, we now look to "a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufacture, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. This will be to them the next best blessing to the monarchy of their first aim and perhaps the surest stepping stone to it."
In other words, once you've got really, really rich people, they will seize control of government and they will create a phony aristocracy, or a functional aristocracy, they will call it democracy. It's exactly what Jefferson was warning in this 1826 letter to William Giles. (written in December, 1825, according to my Library of America copy of Jefferson's writings).
CALLER: He was a very, very wise, wise person ...
HARTMANN: He was certainly prescient, you know? I mean, he had his faults and his flaws but he was a brilliant and prescient man and, and repeatedly he warned us about the concentration of wealth. And, and, you know, I think if we don't do something in this country like having a wealth tax, then you know we may end up at some point, and I don't see it probably in my lifetime, but who knows? I mean, you've got a trillion dollars in student debt out there, you've got an entire generation who's been wiped out, who has no possibility of buying a home, building equity, having a decent retirement. I mean, we may be looking at something like the Bolshevik Revolution someday and, you know, if we don't do something about our billionaires right now, because we have this phony aristocracy in this country. And they are, they are holding our democracy hostage. I think it's wrong.
A "phony aristocracy" -- not to be confused with the genuine aristocracy comprised of people like Hartmann. Those who'll run the revolution and live comfortably in its aftermath while ensuring equality of misery for everyone else.
Hartmann, who describes himself as "an advocate of democratic socialism," provided further insight into his economic views by saying this about people who work in hedge funds (audio) --
There's a reason why the two words hedge fund and the word billionaire are so often attached to each other. The economy goes up -- they make money! The economy goes down -- they make money! They don't give a rat's patootie. Unemployment goes up -- they make money! Unemployment goes down -- they make money!
Obama slaps hand to forehead, turns to Biden -- That's it! We'll send everyone without a job to work in hedge funds!