Monday, December 20, 2021

About That Elon Musk/Elizabeth Warren Tift

I'm sure you heard the story.  Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else,” Warren tweeted. 

 Later, Musk famously called her "Senator Karen" and made fun of her. 

What he's talking about is that this transpired at almost at the same moment stories were breaking that he was about to pay more in taxes than anyone in history. We get some numbers from John Miltimore at The Foundation for Economic Education, FEE. 

Is the claim true? Only the IRS knows for certain who the largest taxpayer in US history is, but Forbes says Musk appears to be right.

“The eccentric billionaire (and the world’s richest person) likely owes the federal government at least $8.3 billion for 2021,” Forbes reports.

Business Insider projects Musk’s tax bill is even higher when state taxes are included.

“Taxes on his stock, nearly a billion in Net Investment Income Tax, and the billions he likely owes California could add up to about $12 billion in total,” report Jason Lalljee and Andy Kiersz.

CNBC, meanwhile, figured Musk’s total tax bill was even higher—$15 billion.

The bulk of Musk’s tax bill stems from the nearly $13 billion in Tesla stock sold as of December 13, which is even larger than the record $10.2 billion worth of Amazon stock Jeff Bezos sold last year.

Personally, I think it's everybody's moral duty to pay the legal minimum they owe in taxes and it doesn't bother me how much he pays this year or any year.  Think of the Milton Friedman quote, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.”  Paying more tax than the legally required minimum can be thought of as encouraging that behavior.  Look at those last few paragraphs, though.  If he sold $13 billion in Tesla stock, and is looking at 12 to $15 billion in taxes, they're implying a tax rate that's over 100%. 

But reading Musk's Twitter thread is eye-popping.  It's amazing how many people think they're entitled to other people's money, and his in particular.  The more you read, the more you sense that the problem here isn't someone's taxes, it's envy.  One of the original seven deadly sins identified by Pope Gregory 1 around the year 600 AD, those are commonly listed as pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth although the order seems to vary.  Note the definitive list is not one Bible verse but that these are scattered throughout Proverbs and other books.

Envy is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and for good reason. It’s a corrosive disposition that harms both individuals and societies. The celebrated philosopher Immanuel Kant described envy as,

“…a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one’s own. [It is] a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others. [It] aims, at least in terms of one’s wishes, at destroying others’ good fortune.”

The pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC)—in a wonderfully libertarian quote—once warned of the danger of envy and purpose of the law.

“[Just] laws would not prevent each man from living according to his inclination, unless individuals harmed each other; for envy creates the beginning of strife,” he wrote.

Being envious of someone is like being angry at them; it gives them control over your emotions.  Envy makes sense for Elizabeth Warren, as a well-established socialist.  After all, to borrow from Winston Churchill, “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”  Envy is being preached at Warren's church. 


  1. Yep. People just don't understand that a progressive tax system punishes the very people who generate the money that is taxed.

    As to socialists, there are a couple that I respect. They actually do the whole "I'll redistribute my wealth and properties equally amongst others" thing.

    Warren? She's not a socialist. She's a feudalist. And she thinks she's on the top of the feudal pyramid.

    The more I see garbage like this, the more my knowledge of medieval history seems to come relevant.

    1. Good old David Stockman, Reagan's budget director, once said, "The income tax has been slashed so many times since 1981 that it’s no longer a broad based societal tax; it’s a kind of luxury tax on upper income salary earners and the small share of households which garner most of the capital income from dividends, interest payments and capital gains" The odd thing is that I don't think he actually meant the tax rates have been slashed, it's the number of people that pay taxes that have been slashed.

      People like to point out that the top half of income tax payers pay over 97% of the collected revenues and it's certainly true (as of the last data I saw). The top 1% of incomes pay 39.5% of all tax revenue. Pocahontas wants more.

  2. Thanks for clearing this up for me, SiG. I'd seen the memes, but hadn't heard the backstory.

    1. It's bad when actual freakshow pinheads make more sense than Liawatha.

  3. Senator Warren believes the largest taxpayer is paying zero. What other facts material to her legislator job is she that wrong about?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I think everything!

      (My fat fingers caused me to delete the first comment.)

    3. I'd just add that since she seems to have the economics education and sophistication of sixth grader, you can bet it's just about everything.


    >mic drop<

  5. Soon Musk is a very bright person. Fauxcohontas has a head that whistles when the wind blows. It's not really a battle of wits.... it's a slaughter. She's a typical commie, egocentric, greedy and spectacularly incompetent.

  6. Excellent post.

    Envy is her church, and that's for someone who got paid six figures for teaching two hours a week . . . (shakes head)