Facebook: More rich people. Just what we need.


So Facebook is going public, and a homeless artist is going to get $200 million. Nice. And a company that has spent eight years spying on your private life (with your consent, of course, although admit it, you didn't know exactly how the data mining worked and how much these folks now know about you) is going to pick up a few billion dollars for selling your secrets to advertisers. Thank you for using Facebook.

This is, of course, supposed to be great news for the state, since all of those folks who get rich off stock options will eventually sell some of the stock and pay a capital gains tax, and then they'll pay sales taxes on the fancy cars and houses they buy, and we should be so fucking happy that the great wealth will trickle down to the rest of us, since Mitt Romney has made it clear that it's unAmerican to complain about success.

I'm not complaining. Good for David Choe that he's going to instantly be a member of the 1 percent. And despite what the trolls on this site love to say, I don't hate rich people.

I just think they ought to pay fair taxes.

Because in the end, a lot of the people who get rich off Facebook were, frankly, in the right place at the right time. Let's take Mr. Choe. He just happened to accept stock instead of a few thousand dollars cash to paint a wall at a company the might not have gone anywhere. He might as well have bought a lottery ticket. Some of the folks at Facebook are immensely talented and should be rewarded; many of them are just the same as the employees at a thousand other companies, except that they happened to get hired by one that is going to make them rich.

Let's suppose that the state charged a capital gains tax of 35 percent on income of more than $10 million. Mr. Choe would wind up with $140 million instead of $200 million. I think he'd still do fine; his grandkids would never have to work. But the state would have an extra $50 million to, say, pay for housing and education so that other young artists wouldn't be homeless.

I'm glad Mark Zuckerberg has signed on with Bill Gates to give away half of his money. This is a wonderful thing. But charity isn't going to fix the mess that is the United States economy; it's not going to substantially narrow the gap between the rich and the poor (especially since a lot of this "charity" goes to places like Harvard University -- thank you Mr. Gates -- which don't exactly count as helping the truly needy).

No: Charity is fine as far as it goes, but this country desperately needs more money in the public sector -- yes, government -- to pay for things that charity typically doesn't (you think any of the Facebook crew are going to give $100 million to Muni?) and to reduce the wealth gap that is choking the economy to death.

And so far, what the folks in the tech world seem to want is more tax breaks.

Okay, now I'm going to post this on Facebook.