Kevin Williamson corrects misleading data in the NYT in Connecting Some Dots on Taxes:
As is the case with most American billionaires, Gates’s vast fortune has its origin in the launching of a new business. When Microsoft made its initial public offering of stock, it created three billionaires and about 12,000 millionaires. That money came from stock investors, who traded their cash for equity in Microsoft. That was an excellent decision: An investment of $1,000 in Microsoft shares at the IPO would be worth more than $1.6 million today (assuming the reinvestment of dividends, etc.). The American middle class could stand some more victimization of that kind. If that is what getting ripped off looks like, then let’s have some more of the same.
Indulging in the most sophomoric kind of zero-sum analysis, Tomasky insists that the middle class is worse off because Gates is better off. But there is not really any evidence that that is the case. It is entirely possible to imagine a world in which Microsoft products did not exist and Microsoft profits did not exist, and Bill Gates was just another guy working in tech or finance or insurance. But the middle class would be worse off in that scenario, not better off: It would be deprived of Microsoft’s products, which consumers value (that is what makes Microsoft profitable) and also deprived of the jobs, tax payments, and secondary economic activity associated with Microsoft. Tomasky’s argument really does not stand up to a second’s scrutiny here.
The idea that there is some big national slop bucket marked “income” and that Gates et al. are grabbing up more than their fair share is breathtakingly primitive. A relatively small number of high-growth firms has accounted for a very large share of economic growth in the United States in the past several decades. That represents wealth creation, not a wealth transfer.