Oh sure, in this NYT op-ed, Greg Mankiw shamelessly fiddles with numbers to try to show that raising taxes on rich people like him will be bad for the economy. But you don’t even have to point out the obvious flaws in his math [Update: Kevin Drum shows some of those flaws here] to read this op-ed as an unrestrained argument in favor of raising taxes on the rich.
For starters, Mankiw claims he’ll stop writing NYT op-eds if his federal taxes go up.
I am regularly offered opportunities to earn extra money. It could be by talking to a business group, consulting on a legal case, giving a guest lecture, teaching summer school or writing an article. I turn down most but accept a few.
HERE’S the bottom line: Without any taxes, accepting that editor’s assignment would have yielded my children an extra $10,000. With taxes, it yields only $1,000. In effect, once the entire tax system is taken into account, my family’s marginal tax rate is about 90 percent. Is it any wonder that I turn down most of the money-making opportunities I am offered?
So if we raise taxes, less of this kind of transparent bullshit with numbers will appear on the NYT op-ed page.
Moreover, if Mankiw stops writing these crappy op-eds, it’ll open up an opportunity for someone else to write op-eds for the NYT. That person, according to Mankiw’s logic, would have to be someone less wealthy than him (because Mankiw shows no sane rich person would write an NYT op-ed for only $523 of savings). And since that person is by definition not rich, she will probably spend more of the $1000 the NYT would pay her right away, rather than pass it on to her kids as Mankiw says he will do with his pay for writing this NYT op-ed.
I’ve seen no more compelling, succinct argument for why we should raise taxes. Not only will it result in more money flowing through the economy immediately, but it’ll save us from having to read the ramblings of rich people like Mankiw, David Broder, and Tom Friedman.