Extending on JoeL‘s response to Smokingscot’s link:
Michael Bloomberg: “Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves. So, I listen to people saying ‘oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do. The question is: do you want to pander to those people, or do you want to get them to live longer? And there’s just no question: if you raise taxes on full sugary drinks for example, they will drink less, and there’s just no question that full sugar drinks are one of the major contributors to obesity, and obesity is one of the major contributors to heart disease, and cancer, and a variety of other things. So it’s like saying I don’t want to stop using coal because coal miners will go out of work, will lose their jobs. We have a lot of soldiers in the United States in the US army, but we don’t want to go start a war just to give them something to do. And that’s exactly what you’re saying when you say well let’s keep coal killing people because we don’t want coal miners to lose their jobs. The truth of the matter is there are many coal miners left anyways, and we can find other things for them to do.But the comparison is: a life, or a job. Or taxes, or life. Which do you want to do? Take your poison.”
Christine Lagarde: “So it’s regressive: it is good. There are lots of tax experts in the room, and fiscal experts, and I’m very pleased that they hear you say that. And they all say there are two things in life which are absolutely certain. One is death, the other one is tax. So you use one to defer the other one.”
Michael Bloomberg: “That’s correct. That is exactly right. Well said.”
Christine Lagarde: “Yes.
Michael Bloomberg: “You said it.”
Michael Bloomberg: “No, you said it.”
It’s all totally screwy. Bloomberg says “we want the poor to live longer.” Why? “So that they can get an education and enjoy life. ” Is getting an education a necessary prerequisite for enjoying life? I don’t think so. I think uneducated people can enjoy life just as much as educated people. In fact, maybe they can enjoy it more. So what’s education got to do with it?
Anyway, Bloomberg then says that if you raise taxes on full sugary drinks, poor people will drink less, and live longer, because full sugary drinks are contributors to cancer and heart disease. Are full sugary drinks really contributors to cancer and heart disease? How the hell do they know? Why should we believe the people that tell us this?
But that aside, and if reducing consumption of full sugary drinks actually does make people live longer, then if drinking full sugary drinks is one of the ways by which people enjoy life, then you have increased longevity of life at the price of enjoyment of life. Live longer, and have less fun. And once you’ve taken away all the other things that people enjoy doing, then maybe you’ll end up with people who will live a very long time, and take no enjoyment whatsoever from doing so.
And then Bloomberg switches over to talking about coal miners, saying that letting them keep their jobs will “keep coal killing people.” But is coal killing people? How is it killing people? I thought that coal was what got the industrial revolution going, and brought us the high living standards we enjoy today. In fact, what Bloomberg probably means is that burning coal produces carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is warming the planet, and this warming is going to end up killing a lot of people. But is carbon dioxide causing global warming? A lot of people don’t believe that it is. Or they believe that it’s nothing that anyone need worry about. (And I now think that global warming is a Good Thing, if it can help defer the next ice age.)
And Christine Lagarde clearly believes that coal and carbon dioxide is killing people as well. And she adds her own spin. She says that there are only two things in life that are absolutely certain: death and taxes. And you can defer death by increasing taxes. But are death and taxes the only two certainties in life? I thought the saying was just a wry joke. Lagarde has given it the status of a profound truth. But it is not. There are undoubtedly many people throughout history who never paid any taxes at all, because they were hermits living in remote places, or fur trappers in Alaska, where there were no tax collectors, and so no taxes. And I doubt that any of the people who ever paid taxes to tax collectors saw them as helping them live longer. Quite the opposite.
More or less everything that was said here was open to question. Or it raised more questions. Like for example: Is a long life necessarily a good life or an enjoyable life? Is there something about long life that is good in itself, regardless of what is done with it? If prisoners in maximum security prisons live longer than people in the dangerous world outside prison, would this be a good reason to put people in prison?
Anyway, I find it very disturbing that we’ve got people like Christine Lagarde and Michael Bloomberg trying to run the world, because I think they’re both dangerous crazy people, with an inverted understanding of the world.