SF's 16 billionaires (and who says this city is broke?)


The new Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans is out, and guess what? Sixteen of them live in San Francisco. That's a lot of very rich people. Some new ones on the list this year, too. And that doesn't count all the very, very rich who didn't quite make the cut (Warren Hellman, for example, isn't quite rich enough for this list.)

It's another reminder: This is a wealthy city, folks. And some of the people who live here, who have done exceptionally well with the Bush tax cuts (and despite the recession) can well afford to pay more local taxes.

So next time a political candidate tells you we can't raise taxes in a recession, tell them to check out the Forbes 400 and our own 16 billionaires.





You know that's a cheap shot, don't you? How exactly would you suggest imposing a "windfall tax" on those with a billion? A wealth tax and an income tax are both illegal under State law.

Again, those billionaires didn't get that money by having a pretty face. You shrewdly omitted their names but in fact most if not all of them got their money by building successful businesses and employing lots of people, i.e. bringing money and jobs to the region.

Moreover, it is almost trivially easy for someone of means to move out of the City, County or State. Hell, even the country. So what on earth is the point in harassing them?

Finally, that 16 billion works out about $50 a person nationally. We could impoverish them all, give everyone a tax rebate and most folks wouldn't notice at all. Let them be.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

Most of them inherited the money.

Posted by G.S. on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

If they're anything like 75% of America's wealthy class, they inherited some or all of their fortunes. That's called "Rolling Out Of The Right Birth Canal".

Tim isn't suggesting confiscating their riches, he is merely suggesting that they pay a tiny fraction of their lucre to defray the costs of the same society they've made their money off of--sounds like a fair deal to me.

This veneration of America's true aristocracy is a little sad, given that this was one of the freest economies the world ever saw. Hate to tell you this, but sucking up to the chosen few doesn't get you very far, not like that'll ever stop ya.

Posted by Guest Johnny Wendell on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

Yeah, bunch of lazy folks those billionaires are, inheriting all of their ill-gotten gains! Wait, lets look at the list of Bay Area Billionaires and see how many of them inherited it...

Self made
Larry Ellison
$27 B 66 Woodside, CA Oracle

Self made
Larry Page
$15 B 37 Palo Alto, CA Google

Self made
Sergey Brin
$15 B 37 San Francisco, CA Google

Self made
Mark Zuckerberg
$6.9 B 26 Palo Alto, CA Facebook

Self made
Steve Jobs
$6.1 B 55 Palo Alto, CA Apple, Pixar

Self made
Eric Schmidt
$5.45 B 55 Atherton, CA Google

Self made
Charles Johnson
$4 B 77 San Mateo, CA Franklin Resources

Self made
Charles Schwab
$3.7 B 73 Atherton, CA discount stock brokerage

Self made
Rupert Johnson
$3.7 B 69 San Mateo, CA Franklin Resources

Self made
Ray Dolby
$3.6 B 77 San Francisco, CA Dolby Laboratories

Self made
Gordon Moore
$3.5 B 81 Woodside, CA Intel

Self made
John Sobrato & family
$3.3 B 71 Atherton, CA real estate

Self made
George Lucas
$3.25 B 66 Marin County, CA Star Wars

Self made
George Roberts
$3.1 B 67 San Francisco, CA leveraged buyouts

Riley Bechtel
$2.9 B 58 San Francisco, CA engineering, construction

Stephen Bechtel
$2.9 B 85 San Francisco, CA engineering, construction

Doris Fisher
$2.3 B 79 San Francisco, CA Gap

Self made
Jack Dangermond
$2.2 B 65 Redlands, CA mapping software

William Randolph Hearst III
$2.1 B 61 San Francisco, CA Hearst Corp

Gordon Getty
$2 B 76 San Francisco, CA Getty Oil

Self made
Jess Jackson
$1.85 B 80 Geyserville, CA Jackson Family Wines

Phoebe Hearst Cooke
$1.8 B 83 San Francisco, CA Hearst Corp

Self made
James Coulter
$1.8 B 50 San Francisco, CA leveraged buyouts

Self made
Marc Benioff
$1.8 B 46 San Francisco, CA Salesforce.com

Self made
Thomas Siebel
$1.7 B 57 Woodside, CA Siebel Systems

Self made
Ken Fisher
$1.6 B 59 Woodside, CA money management

Self made
L. John Doerr
$1.55 B 59 Woodside, CA venture capital

Self made
Richard Peery
$1.5 B 70 Palo Alto, CA real estate

Self made
Kavitark Ram Shriram
$1.45 B 53 Mountain View, CA Venture capital, Google

Self made
John Arrillaga
$1.4 B 73 Portola Valley, CA real estate

Self made
Romesh T. Wadhwani
$1.4 B 63 Palo Alto, CA Software

John Pritzker
$1.4 B 57 San Francisco, CA hotels, investments

Self made
Dustin Moskovitz
$1.4 B 26 San Francisco, CA Facebook

Self made
John Morgridge
$1.3 B 77 Portola Valley, CA Cisco

Self made

Self made
Carl Berg
$1.3 B 73 Atherton, CA real estate

Self made
Vinod Khosla
$1.3 B 55 Portola Valley, CA Sun Microsystems, venture capital

Self made
Michael Moritz
$1.3 B 56 San Francisco, CA venture capital

Daniel Pritzker
$1.3 B 51 Marin County, CA hotels, investments

John Fisher
$1.25 B 49 San Francisco, CA Gap

Self made
David Duffield
$1.2 B 70 Blackhawk, CA PeopleSoft

Self made
Meg Whitman
$1.2 B 54 Atherton, CA Ebay

Self made
Jerry Yang
$1.15 B 41 Los Altos Hills, CA Yahoo

Self made
David Filo
$1.15 B 44 Palo Alto, CA Yahoo

Self made
Peter Thiel
$1.1 B 43 San Francisco, CA Paypal, Facebook

Wow, there is a whole lot more self-made wealth than inherited wealth. In fact, the people on this small list have made thousands of jobs and have created companies that have created billions of dollars in wealth for other people (not to mention billions in tax receipts). Just because it is perceived that someone can 'afford it' doesn't mean you should do it. Plus, 'rich' is $250K a year according to the current administration. Do you think $250K is 'rich' in SF?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

I do think 250k is rich in SF. 

And not sure what your definition of "self-made" is ... didn't most of these people come from families that sent them to elite universities, partly funded by state money? 

Posted by marke on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 2:27 am

moritz went to elite universities.

Posted by Laddie on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

None of these billionaires are self made, they all depended upon an infrastructure subsidized by socialized taxation and investment as a base upon which they were able to build their companies.

Now they whine that they owe us nothing for providing them the tools with which they became rich, tools which they are now prepared to discard for all future comers.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:39 am

250K is very rich. I know a lot of people making $10 an hour. I also don't know anyone single who is living in a place where the living room isn't rented out.

Posted by G.S. on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

We tax just the billionaires?
I want to see more taxes but just pointing out that some rich people live here is not so productive, and more than a little divisive.
The bulk of the ones who made their money on that list and who have homes in SF made their own money, although they may have had an education advantage coming from middle class families. So I guess you could resent them for that (and no I am not sucking up to anyone).

Posted by Chris Pratt on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

Um, by my count there are 8 self-made billionaires. Which is the same number as the ones who inherited or married into their wealth.

That's more than I expected, but it's certainly not "the bulk."

Of the ones who inherited their wealth, the majority have family fortunes dating to the Robber Baron era.

Which isn't to say anything about policy - but the point that there is a lot of money, including billions of inherited dollars, in San Francisco is a valid one.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

identifying billionaires and implying they suck it up, pay some more in taxes, and take a hit like everyone else.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

It would be extraordinarily unfair just to tax the billionaires; those poor folks who only clock in at, say, $900 million would escape without paying.

My point is not to single out the billionaires but to point out that there's tremendous wealth in this city, and that fair taxes that target the top of the economic pyramid would bring in needed revenue without hurting small businesses or working-class people.

Taxing the rich has a long, established tradition in this country; from the New Deal era to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, it was considered a matter of course by both political parties. Time to get back to it.

Posted by tim redmond on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 11:01 am

I think P. J. O'Rourke had it right: Eat The Rich!!!

Posted by Uncle Don on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

My friend Blackberry, Black Gay Blues singer in the BayArea, cut an "Eat The Rich" album in the early 70s !
Blackberry is featured in Marlon Riggs "Brother to Brother" movie

Posted by mesha Monge-Irizarry on Oct. 01, 2010 @ 12:44 am


But again you ducked the question of how to actually tax the uber-rich.

You can't levy a wealth tax.

So you're limited to a State-wide hike in income tax rates. Which is a very inefficient way of taxing wealth since you really only taxing the interest on that wealth. and that is after their fancy accountants have offset their income with all the usual tricks.

While the City has even less options for taxing wealth. Even property tax, which essentially is a wealth tax, is limited by Prop 13.

Absent a viable suggestion for how to tax these folks, you are engaged in little more here than a little, mischievous, old-fashioned class warfare and the politics of envy.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 8:30 am

Although you can't levy a "wealth tax", that's not the point. The talk I've heard is of raising the taxes of those who are most able absorb, proportionally, a boost in their taxable rate. One percent of $25,000 is $250. The same rate translates into $2500 out of $250,000. Yes it is the same percentage, but those at the upper level of "income" are more able to afford the increase in taxes. If I had a million dollars, I would be more than happy to throw a couple thousand into the kitty to allow my neighbors or felloe citizens some breathing room. Huh Warren?

Uncle Don

Posted by Uncle Don on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

I would like to think that most of the rich folks listed in the other comments freely contribute money back to local needy organizations. If I were to be ultra wealthy I know that contributing back to society is something that I would do without hesitation.
What ticks me off is when our local city government gets their hands on any amount of tax dollars they tend to spend it on some really stupid stuff. For instance, a subway to Chinatown or a bow & arrow on the Embarcadero. When a city is lacking funds for basic needs it shouldn't be spending stupid.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

I personally think that a lot of the "giving back" that the rich do is stupid spending. They tend to give money to organizations that don't need it -- BIll Gates, for example, giving a big chunk to Harvard, the richest and best endowed university in the world. I'd rather that elected representatives, acting in public, make decisions on how to allocate tax dollars. Don't like the decisions? Vote for someone else.

There are all sorts of creative ways to tax the rich, even in California, even in San Francisco, even with Prop. 13. One of my favorites is a city income tax (yes, we can do that, see Weekes v. Oakland, Cal Sup. Ct 1978). Imperfect, since it's actually a tax on income earned in the city, but it's a start.

If we had a local vehicle license fee that rose steeply based on the value of the car, and a local luxury tax, and a miuch higher real-estate transfer tax on high-end properties, that would be a modest start. I'm also in favor of a commercial rent tax on rent more than $1 million a year (and guess what -- the Guardian is a commercial landlord!). And I'm favor of making the business tax more progressive, and taxing the gross receipts of higher-end companies at a much higher rate.

None of these are perfect; there are limits on what a city can do along. A national one-time wealth tax to pay for a massive national jobs program rebuilding infrastructure would do a lot more for unemployment and the economy than rich people giving to museums and the symphony.

Nothing wrong with museums and the symphony, but that doesn't create a lot of jobs.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 6:52 pm


Taxing income is a very different thing from taxing wealth. Even if you can raise a type of city income tax, you are only taxing things like interest and dividends that arise from that wealth.

If I have a billion invested in an account paying the 0.5% interest that Wells Fargo gives me, then my income is 5 million, and a 3% tax on that is just 150K - not much of a tax on a billion.

Moreover, the billionaire can invest in Treasuries or Muni's that would both be exempt from a local income tax.

Vehicle registration and property transer fees are easily avoided and simply drive wealth 10 miles north or south.

While a tax on rents would simply be passed onto businesses that would then raise prices, lay off workers or again move out of town.

Finally, a national wealth tax is disallowed under law and may even require a constitutional amendment to change. It was specifically banned (for the Fed's anyway; Florida has a wealth tax which they call an intengibles tax).

So, Tim, are you going to stand on a platform of a tax on intangibles! It doesn't sound as catchy as a wealth tax, does it?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:20 am

"And I'm favor of making the business tax more progressive, and taxing the gross receipts of higher-end companies at a much higher rate."

Where was the Board of Supervisors appointed Commish when it came time for the Small Business Commission to endorse Chiu's tax reform measure?



Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:43 am

Once taxes reach intangibles they are no longer intangible!


Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:37 am

I imagine Tim would love to impose a tax on intangibles because the term can be used to describe anything, real or imaginary.

Tim could tax a pleasant thought, a sunny day, a walk in the park.

Reminds me of the old Beatles song:

Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

(if you drive a car, car;) - I’ll tax the street;
(if you try to sit, sit;) - I’ll tax your seat;
(if you get too cold, cold;) - I’ll tax the heat;
(if you take a walk, walk;) - I'll tax your feet.


Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

There's plenty of income available to tax - the total personal income in the US was about 12 trillion dollars at last count (see www.wolframalpha.com) the top 1 percent of earners got 2.5 trillion of that - what we need is extended progressivity in the tax code, all the way up!

Repealing the Bush tax cuts on those making more than 200,000 a year (250,000), raising marginal rates from 35 to 39 percent is just a start - how about raising marginal rates on those making 500,000 a year to 45%, those making 1,000,000 a year to 50%, etc.

The Beatles song was about the then-actual taxation rates in Britain at the very top. you can argue that those rates were too high, but that's the point - we need to discuss how much the very, ultra, filthy, sickly, and deadly rich should be paying.

We proles made them rich by buying their crap.

And why should anyone be paying a higher percent of EARNED income as taxes, then the rich pay on all their capital gains? most of the income of the rich is NOT earned.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

Yeah but what did those Beatles do about the super high rate of tax in England?

They left, and so England got no tax at all from them. Same would happen here. Many places would welcome them.

We need those ultra filthy sickly deadly rich more than they need us.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

In 2005 SF had 20 billionaires. Look who's not on the list, the inventors of option ARM "Pick a pay" loans. In most countries they'd have been shot.

$1.1 billion -- Bernard Osher · Golden West Financial
$1.1 billion -- Herbert Sandler · Golden West Financial
$1.1 billion -- Marion Sandler · Golden West Financial

Posted by Guest on Sep. 30, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

I think the whole debate above over "stupid" spending vs not so stupid spending is the wrong question to ask.

The question is WHO is deciding what priorities to spend on.

When it's one rich guy (or a few rich guys) doing the spending, it's THEIR priorities, and the other 99.9% of us have no say whatsoever.

When it's tax money, you can argue it's stupid spending, but at least it's spending on OUR priorities. And yes, it's an imperfect representation of our priorities, but at least we have a say. If we don't like how the money is being spent, there are mechanisms of accountability that allow us to fight for our priorities within the government elected to represent us.

If we're going to call ourselves a democracy and not an oligarchy, then WE the people need to decide how our money is spent. Allowing society's resources to accumulate in the hands of rich people, and then giving those rich people sole discretion how to spend it and what to spend it on, is an extremely inefficient way of distributing resources in a democratic manner.

It can be stupid or smart, but it's not democracy.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 01, 2010 @ 6:48 am


You make a huge assumption there. You assume that money that is held in private hands really belongs to all of us and so that in order to have control of it, we should requisition it first and then let the voters decide what to spend it on.

A confiscatory policy like that has been tried in many countries but I near guarantee none of them are places that either you or I would want to live in.

Just because Warrn Buffett has 40 billion doesn't mean that that money is somehow magically ours as well, and that we should be able to seize it in the name of accountibility.

Your point is fine as it applies to money our governments have. It is far from fine to leap from there to a justification for requisitioning private resources on the grounds of "democracy". And in fact the voters generally do not vote to confiscate the wealth of the rich. Perhaps they have an American dream or something, that one day they too will be rich.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 01, 2010 @ 9:01 am

That's the problem.That's why they vote for policies that help the rich, rather than for policies that help the other 99% of us. And their dreams are misplaced. I heard somewhere that when asked whether they believe that they personally will one day become millionaires, something like 40% of Americans said they did. In reality, the figure is closer to something like 2%.

Most of those who think they will become rich are delusional. But those delusions don't come out of thin air. They are carefully cultivated by a ruling class that *needs* Americans to believe in an unattainable dream. The alternative is that they will vote for policies that are in the self-interest of the majority, and not in the interests of the wealthy elite.

It would be a truly wonderful day if the rest of us loved and respected the rich, only as much as they love and respect the rest of us.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 01, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

I think a lot of it has more to do with Americans being more self interested than sharing. Through pooling our money together most of us can get a better deal via a government program but instead people want to pay more with the idea that they are getting more when they aren't.

Posted by G.S. on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 10:43 pm


Your idea that anyone on below average means should simply vote to expropriate the wealth of those of above average means is an idea of almost beathtaking mendacity. Seems to me to be just one step away from a legal mugging.

Which is why of course even poor people don't vote for such policies. The odds of gettng rich may be low but they are not zero, and it is that that motivates millions of Americans to work hard and strive. And for millions of them, it works - they get a better life than they would anywhere else.

Would those folks work so hard if they knew their new-found and hard worked for wealth could be confiscated by a simple vote of those who worked less hard? Answer - No. Which is why Americans don't just vote their pocket book. They actually THINK about what voting such a way really means - socialism by the back door.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2010 @ 7:55 am

We did just fine when the tax rate on millionaires was 90%. People still worked hard. People still got rich, in fact. But the inequality gap wasn't as great as it is now. And America's standard of living was the highest in the world. We did more than fine. We did better than we're doing now.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 03, 2010 @ 8:07 am

Just because by SOME measures, the US did better in relative terms when we had 90% tax rates does not prove that 90% tax rates caused that success. In fact, the US became great in an era before we even had income tax. That's a spurious argument.

And by the way, "millionaires" aren't rich. Most homeowners in the Bay Area are probably millionaires - I know that I am, on paper anyway. Ask me if I think I'm rich. I am not. And tax me at anything like 90% and I am gone.

The one thing that saves us from a confiscatory state is our constitution and the fact that most people don't see the world through goggles fogged with envy and class warfare.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2010 @ 8:30 am

It doesn't surprise me that you share their mindset. If you have a million in equity, you could sell your home and not have to work a day in your life again. That's rich by most people's standards. You choose not to do that for your own reasons, but don't insult the 99% of Americans that aren't millionaires, on paper or in any other way, by claiming you're not rich.

In any case, we're not talking about taxing the equity on your home. But it wouldn't hurt to tax any income in EXCESS of a million dollars at 90%. I don't see how that would put anyone on the streets. It would, however, pay for a lot of needed social programs that would help others from being out on the street.

It's not about envy. It's about the recognition that there ARE no "self-made" millionaires. All millionaires got that way because they were able to take advantage of societal rules that allow them to rig the game in such a way as to profit off of other people's labor and talents and redistribute the wealth in their favor. Allowing them to stay wealthy, but imposing a strongly progressive tax structure that makes them give back to the society that's treated them so well, is more than fair.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 03, 2010 @ 3:54 pm


If you think anyone who has worked hard to succeed has "rigged the game" and has only made it "off of other people's labor" then there is really no talking to you. That is pure envy towards those who have built a career or business of worth and value.

Luckily, the voters see through that kind of resentment and don't vote that way even if they might financially benefit from it. And that gives me hope for America.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2010 @ 6:35 am

If you think that this is a land of equal opportunity where the poor have the same chance as the rich, then you're delusional. Which is exactly how the ruling class wants it. Congratulations, you're just the kind of citizen they want us all to be. The GINI Index (economic inequality, for those who don't know anything about economics) is now approaching 50 in this country, about on par with Colombia, and a whole slew of people still think that this is the land of equal opportunity! The billionaires of this country raise their glasses of Dom Perignon to saps like you, and cynically say that it gives them hope for America too.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 04, 2010 @ 7:36 am

You promote policies that promote more poor people in the USA then complain about income disparity.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 04, 2010 @ 8:59 am

The delusioal statements here are 'there ARE no "self-made" millionaires' and 'all millionaires got that way because they were able to take advantage of societal rules that allow them to rig the game in such a way as to profit off of other people's labor and talents and redistribute the wealth in their favor".
How about hard work, tenacity, risk, guts, brains and even honesty? These are some of the requirements of living in this country and being able to get ahead with few resources. It works, yet is rarely mirrored in other countries (and I've travelled to at least 25 ). The rewards are neither easy nor dreamy.
I grew up solidly 'lower class' with one parent, multiple siblings, few college educated relatives, no connections. My employees were never exploited; they worked along side me and were well paid, bought homes, had benefits. Sure, I profited, as did the 'other people' in my company. I made more because I worked longer hours, saved more, invested, risked, etc.
This story is repeated hundreds of thousands of times in the USA by people who have become rich, don't flaunt it, give a good deal away, live humble lives and don't call themselves 'rich' yet know that they are.
I wonder Greg, were you a spoiled middle class kid who watched too much TV or just made your money the old fashioned way - by inheritance. Because if you grew up poor, you never want to go back.

Good luck.

Posted by not a guest worker on Oct. 04, 2010 @ 10:16 am

Oh, that's too funny!

Most of the people I know who possess the qualities of hard work, tenacity, guts, brains, and especially honesty... are decidedly NOT millionaires, and never will be. Most of the people I know who ARE millionaires -and I do know a few -are decidedly not honest, and many of them don't have much in the way of brains or hard work either. What they often do have on their side is a lot of luck, an killer instinct for looking out for themselves above all else, and sometimes a willingness to take risks (most with those same qualities fail spectacularly, but that's where the luck comes in). I say sometimes, because most millionaires aren't "rags to riches." Many inherited their wealth, and if you probe more deeply into the ones that say they are "self-made," you'll find that they had a substantial head start over the rest of us. They usually had wealthy parents, start-up capital that most of us could never dream of, connections to a wealthy patron, or very often they started out as millionaires and just made more millions, which is a lot easier than making your "first" million. Donald Trump started with $40 million and calls himself "self-made," because the majority of his wealth was acquired during his lifetime. And by the way, I prefer to use the term "acquired," because I don't know of many millionaires that actually "make" their money by the sweat of their brow.

Now if you're one of those few businessmen who actually made more than their workers only in proportion to the extra effort you put in, congratulations. I know of very few bosses where that holds true, though. Most make way, waaaay out proportion to the effort they put in vis a vis the effort their employees put in.

And yes, I did grow up poor. And no, I don't want to go back. And I don't want anyone else to grow up in poverty either. I've been pretty lucky in my life. Oh yes, I'm smart and hard-working too. But I've seen how easy it is to fall through the cracks in this great land of opportunity. I've come to realize that if someone as smart and hard-working as I am can come so close to winding up on the streets (at different points in my life), then it can happen to anyone. But it doesn't have to be that way. If we make everyone pay their fair share, we can ensure that no children have to grow up in poverty. We can ensure a safety net for everyone. We just have to have the political will.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 05, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

Billionaire throws music party for 600 thousand people.

So, how's that for a 'hint' to his fellow billionaires. Give more of it away and
the masses won't complain so much. San Francisco should be very thankful.

Warren for Mayor!

Posted by Citizen guest on Oct. 05, 2010 @ 10:47 am

Tax rent as defined in classical economics.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 15, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

Aren't rents too high already?

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 10:42 am

Economic rent is a term of art. Classical capitalist economics was all about capturing unearned income, as in rent. Rent has two meanings, see below.

Economic rent is what I'm talking about, taxing it is purely mainstream.

And, yes, THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH! There is no contradiction in the above statement. If a rentier wants to avoid tax, then they decrease the price paid for something down to its level, it is very simple.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 11:20 am

express your specific tax proposal in practical terms that can be understood, rather than couched in theoretical expressions.

Who or what do you want to tax, and how?

Many capitalists would dispute your opinion that their income is "unearned".

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

There are many ways to craft a measure. My working out a proposal would have no bearing on changing much of anything, so I'll put out the grand theme and let the taxation experts take it or leave it.

The rentiers fought the original taxation of economic rent back in the early days of capitalism, and they've successfully fought rolling back any sort of taxation on economic rent--capital gains taxation--over the past 30 years.

Of course capitalists are going to dispute the original framing of economic rent by the originators of capitalist economic theory, as their advocates have spent the past 30 years demolishing classical economics with intent to accumulate more and more wealth. The whole focus on eliminating inheritance and capital gains taxation is the foundation of that campaign.

Capitalism is like a poker game, no fun after someone wins all the money and stops playing.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

craft a plausible practical tax proposal that is both legal and would have a snowball's chance in hell of ever being approved?

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

I am not a tax attorney. The taxation of economic rent is what allowed capitalist society to "move up" out of feudalism. Those who espouse conservative economics today should be the ones promoting classical economic liberalism which was centered around taxing unearned income.

Perhaps they are not really economic conservatives after all, but are putting forth a radical new course? Taken to its logical extreme, shifting the revenue generation burden from rent to labor and property has its own set of undesirable consequences.

Of course for those not educated in economic history, who take their economic cues from the contemporary corporate media, this is all gobbeldygook.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

So your Marxist theory is a lot less interesting than your practical revenue ideas.

Which we are still waiting for!

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

This is neither a political science class nor the legislature, it is a chat board of a liberal weekly newsprint vehicle for advertising.

Those wacky radical communists over at economist.co.uk in combination with those far left socialists John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith were all carefully positioned apparatchiks of the Global Communist Conspiracy who have been plotting for centuries to trip you up.

Good Catch.

Taxing economic rent is what made for what passed for sustainable capitalism in an environment of plentiful resources, abandoning that bedrock conservative principle in favor of taxing productive capacity is the precisely wrong thing to do in a climate of cut throat competition and scarce resources.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

Thanks for playing.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

Tax economic rent like the communists over at the Economist say is okay.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 7:42 pm