53 Brentwood Blog

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Erik Brynjolfsson

Michael Dell, the 39th richest man in the world, has shocked observers by speaking out against a higher marginal tax rate on people earning more than $10m.

During a panel interview at Davos, the festival for the elite rich white men of the world, Dell literally laughed off the idea of raising taxes.

When asked – amid peals of laughter around the room – if he supported the plan, Dell, who has a net worth of $28.6bn, replied that he didn't.

"My wife and I set up a foundation about 20 years ago, and we would have contributed quite a bit more than a 70 per cent tax rate on my annual income," he said.

Latching on to the idea that the super-rich are all philanthropists and that society should rely on their goodwill, Dell added: "I feel much more comfortable with our ability as a private foundation to allocate those funds than I do giving them to the government." *

He went on to assert that it wouldn't support the growth of the US economy, and when he was asked why not, Dell replied: "Well, name a country where that's worked. Ever."

Unfortunately for Dell, he was joined on the panel by Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, who piped up: "The United States."

"From the 1930s to the 1970s, the tax rate averaged about 70 per cent. At times it was as high as 95 per cent – and those were actually pretty good years for growth." ®

* Clement Attlee('s biographer) said: "Charity is a cold, grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim."



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