I’ve seen a series of animated gifs about J.K. Rowling and taxes floating around for a few weeks. Here is a screenshot, because copying the gifs would make this post too clunky. The series is summarized this way, from Hank Green’s Tumblr:
I love her.
She donates so much she went from “billionaire” to “millionaire.”
MAD respect for that.
Listen to J.K. Rowling, and put your money where your mouth is, 1%.
I think there really needs to be a cultural shift among the wealthy. It’s very inspiring to hear Jo telling it like it is.
I get the message. I disagree because it endorses a specific solution to a problem. Even if we pretend that the solution is effective, it’s more concerned with enacting a specific solution. It’s an effort to bludgeon opponents with a silly, nonsensical political narrative.
As Forbes wrote:
New information about Rowlings’ estimated $160 million in charitable giving combined with Britain’s high tax rates bumped the Harry Potter scribe from our list this year.
Hank Green’s position above is a lot more subtle on this, although I think it fails to address whether the perceived necessity isn’t a red herring. J.K. Rowlings donated $160 million to charity. Other wealthy individuals also donate to charity. Should these charitable donations be sent as taxes to governments to distribute as politicians deem appropriate? Would the charities that received Rowlings’ $160 million donations receive donations from the government in the redistribution of taxes? And why should we assume that the government doesn’t have the necessary tax revenue to fund such necessary expenditures if unnecessary (or unjustified) expenditures ceased?
The 1% narrative works to fit problems into a solution rather than addressing the problems with whichever solutions are effective for each problem.