Sam Harris has suggested that the rich pay more taxes, and he’s getting hammered for it. His readers are deep in the throes of the fundamental attribution error, thinking that individuals are responsible for everything that happens to them. Which isn’t true. Wealthy or poor, luck plays a lion’s role.
Our birth is random, we do not choose our parents, we do not choose our era and we do not choose the people around us. Yet these things all make a great difference to our rise or fall in life.
Harris is saying that billionaires et all need to be taxed more to improve society at large. His critics are saying that is survival of the fittest and that people who succeed shouldn’t have to subsidize those who fail. I agree with Harris, though I don’t object to the evolutionary argument at all. It is about survival, survival of the civilization at large. That’s why elites can’t control too many resources, and why as many people need to be empowered as possible. Because it makes a civilization more robust.
We need taxes and government action because it’s right, but also because it’s sensible. For two reasons.
1. Pissed off masses will revolt
2. We don’t know what talents we will need
Any society that cuts off its weakest is weakening itself. It’s like drawing the Sri Lanka cricket team from only prominent schools. A lot of talented kids were left out and the team was weaker for it. Now the team draws from the whole island (north just coming online) and they’re better for it.
You don’t know what talent you will need and you don’t know where it will come from, so the survival of a society is improved by its diversity. Because you have more options, more skills and more ways to adapt. Because you have more human capital, rather than a few humans with more capital. That’s what makes or breaks a civilization and it’s the only way to improve chances in an existence which is, ultimately, largely luck.
Anyways, Sam Harris, worth a read.