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Ending America’s Antisocial Contract

Earlier this summer, ProPublica released a so-called bombshell report with income tax data leaked from the Internal Revenue Service.1 The report showed how little America’s twenty-five richest families paid in effective tax rates compared to the average American. How they paid so little was no surprise to anyone who has worked with high-net-worth individuals in wealth management or philanthropy, or followed tax policy for the last few decades. In today’s hoarding economy, in which both elected officials and central bankers have turned the policy dials to encourage the wealthiest to hoard power and prosperity at the expense of middle-class Americans, it was a total nonevent.

For those unaware of how the tax system works, however, it did reveal two different policy regimes in America—effectively two polit­ical economies—one for the rich and one for everyone else. Over four decades, policymakers sold this bifurcated political economy to mid­dle-class Americans as a new social contract. The wealthy will pay lower taxes relative to their wealth; the corporations, owned primarily by the wealthy, will be allowed to concentrate into monopolies; and the financial system the wealthy dominate will be allowed to make riskier transactions with the risk shifted to the public. In exchange, the wealthy’s philanthropic largesse and entre­preneurial prowess will in­crease productivity, and the average American will enjoy economic prosperity and flourishing, ultimately achieving the American dream.

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, which decimated working families’ balance sheets, and a recovery that primarily bene­fited the wealthiest of the world, Pope Francis started his papacy with a stinging critique of this antisocial contract. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”2

Pope Francis’s critique of the failing social contract drew particular ire from American political and business leaders inside and outside the Catholic Church. Conservative economists and academics piled on, critiquing the pope’s naïveté and lack of understanding of markets and economics. Many said that he should stay out of economics and stick to matters of morality and church doctrine.

In contrast, Joseph Ritchie, the founder of Chicago Research and Trading and Fox River Partners, who is recognized for seeing the gaps in economic models and his work in pioneering computer-driven trading,3 read Pope Francis’s statements on the economy and thought the opposite of his critics. Ritchie understood that Pope Francis was right in saying that “trickle-down” economic theories did not match how markets or economies actually worked. Ritchie knew his colleagues in high finance and the donor community completely missed the pragmatic implications of Francis’s prophetic warning.

The Hoarding Economy: A Plane Destined to Crash

From Ritchie’s perspective, policymakers have turned the tax policy dials, like those that regulate corporate competition and the financial system, to benefit his peers, with wealth dangerously getting siphoned up to the top of the economy. While in the short term these policies goosed aggregate growth and tax revenues, in the long term, this hoarding of wealth decreased productivity growth, diminished the livelihoods of the middle-class base of the economy, increased the need for public assistance for working families, and enlarged the public debt load for younger and future taxpayers.

Most worrisome for everyone: this wealth hoarding created politi­cal and economic instability. To describe these unintended consequences of poor policy design, Ritchie adapted an aerospace engineering term he learned as an aviator and copilot with fellow adventurer Steve Fossett—negative stability—comparing the economy to a plane whose oscillations up and down get worse over time until crashing into the ground. His argument was not moral. It was political and economic. If hoarding by policy design continued, negative stability risked crashing the whole system, economically and socially.

Inspired by a meeting at the Vatican in 2014, Ritchie and the authors of this essay privately began sharing these insights to billionaires, hedge fund managers, politicians, donors, think tank executives, and academics. The core message: turning the dials to stop hoarding and to return the takings to the American public would lead to an economy of more productive positive stability and grow the total enterprise value of the U.S. economy, benefiting everyone in the long term.

At the time, there seemed to be a bipartisan opening. Before his presidency, Donald Trump had proposed a tax on hoarding to ad­dress the deficit.4 Many conservative politicians were privately begin­ning to see the risks of wealth concentration for their increasingly rural, middle- and working-class constituents. They saw that the wealthiest hoarders did not share their constituents’ social values or economic interests. In the end, however, the leaders we talked to did not heed the warning. The 2017 tax cuts turned the dials further to encourage greater levels of hoarding and made the picture worse, not better. Everyone continued to fly a plane destined to crash.

These tax cuts continued a policy regime that has caused the decline of economic mobility for decades. As Harvard economist Raj Chetty has shown in his research, generational economic mobility disappeared for half the population born after 1980.5 Over time, the hoarding of wealth and opportunity became geographically entrenched. Children in poorer neighborhoods were becoming less and less likely to exit poverty and succeed in life. Fewer, wealthier families in fewer neighborhoods were hoarding all forms of capital—social, financial, intellectual.

What were the causes of this concentration? Globalization and rapid technological changes were factors, but past eras had seen simi­lar trends, without these significant divergences in wealth and prosperity. Chetty and his team demonstrated that the most important factors for declining economic mobility and the concentration of opportunity were lower GDP growth rates and greater concentration in the distribution of this growth.6

A $50 Trillion Taking from the Middle Class

Why was productivity growth slowing and narrowing? Starting in the late 1970s, politicians began turning policy dials in favor of the rich. In the name of cheaper consumer goods, policymakers weakened antitrust laws and regulations that protected competition and encouraged entrepreneurship and small business ownership.7 They turned the policy dials to take power and benefits from employees and gave more power and capital to corporate shareholders, putting them first, effectively reducing the social purpose of a corporation to maximizing stock values.8 Politicians announced that this new social contract would incentivize the wealthy to invest more in productive enterprises that would spur higher levels of growth in innovation and job creation, while at the same time reducing prices. In the beginning, un­der the economic conditions of that time, there was a rise in investment and growth. But the approach has not aged well. The current econo­my is significantly overcapitalized and sluggishly underproductive.

With tax policy in particular, the Congressional Research Service conducted a study of sixty‑five years of tax policy and found that after policymakers turned the tax dials to help the wealthiest, these distributions had little positive impact on investment, productivity growth, and increased hoarding levels.9 According to a working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, if policymakers had not turned policy dials to encourage hoarding from 1975 to 2018, middle-income growth would have matched the healthy growth of three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974). This income growth would have added $50 trillion to the balance sheets of middle-class and working-class families.10

In defense of the economists and policymakers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, they faced an oil crisis, stagnation, and inflation beleaguering the business and investment community. In the face of these crises, it likely made sense to reduce some taxes and move to­ward the center of the famous “Laffer curve.”11 Nevertheless, as capital and wealth concentrated significantly over the coming decades, no one stopped to ask if we had gone to the other side of the Laffer curve—that we were taxing the wealthy too little and creating other problems—lower growth rates and higher concentrations of growth—that were as great as, if opposite to, the problems faced in the early Reagan years. When taken to an extreme, policymakers’ efforts to create more dynamism by turning the tax dials can actually lead to a less dynamic economy and a more stratified society. They forgot the principle of moderation implicit in the Laffer curve.

In 2017, policymakers cut taxes even further on the wealthy, encouraging even greater levels of hoarding and making wealth diver­gences worse, not better. Policymakers cut taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent, who siphoned off 43 percent of the benefits in 2018, and who will receive 47 percent in 2025, and 99 percent in 2027.12 Rolling back the estate tax, which only impacted the top 0.2 percent of estates in 2016, will redistribute $83 billion to the children of ultrarich dynasties over ten years.13 Again, these tax cuts for the wealthy were sold on the prom­ise that they would significantly raise federal revenues, stim­ulate entrepreneurship, productivity growth, and investment. They have not.14

Even worse, as much as $700 billion of the tax cut was given to investors overseas, as corporate after-tax income will flow to foreign investors via stock buybacks and dividends, rewarding multinationals with billions of dollars instead of local, place-bound American com­panies.15 While child tax credits and reductions in the state and local tax deductions marginally helped address these divergences, on the whole, the government essentially redistributed funds to the world’s wealthiest families and multinational corporate shareholders. As the tax cuts did not pay for themselves,16 these so-called reforms used public debt to fund a global plutocracy.17

That is not reform. That is a taking.

How Hoarding Hurts the Economy 

On the front cover of Forbes’s 2021 summer special issue, the title “A New Billionaire Every Day” hovers over a black background wedged between the oversized bodiless heads of the Winklevoss twins smirking and staring confidently into the eyes of the reader. The subtitle reads, “As the world suffered over the past year, great fortunes were forged at an unprecedented rate. The dynamics underlying them point to a better future for everyone.”18 The feature essay, “Operation Wealth Speed,” documents how in 2020, while millions lost family members, jobs, and small businesses, 493 new billionaires were created worldwide, and billionaire wealth grew by $5.1 trillion during the pandemic. We are told not to worry about these exploding divergences but to be hopeful, as these new “self-made” billionaires have made public commitments to give away their wealth in the short term and to embrace the new paradigm of stakeholder capitalism.

In contrast, in the margins of the Financial Times, a headline in small print tells a more transparent story: “Central banks’ pandemic policies widen the wealth gap.” The story highlights the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, which found that “due to monetary policy that inflated asset prices of those with a higher share of equities . . . the ultra-high net worth group grew even faster, adding 24% more members, the highest rate of increase since 2003.” According to the report’s author, Anthony Shorrocks, “Indeed wealth creation in 2020 appears to have been completely detached from the economic woes resulting from covid-19.”19 If policy inflated asset prices, were these entrepreneurs creating all of their wealth through innovation and productivity, or were policymakers encouraging hoarding? In addi­tion, the consumption that kept the economy going was fueled by policies that encouraged massive levels of public debt; a burden for future generations of taxpayers to bear. If the wealthiest are not paying taxes, then which Americans will foot that bill in the future?

Unsurprisingly, for a magazine targeting the wealthy and the as­piring wealthy, the Forbes essay made no reference to any of the policy choices that helped facilitate “Operation Wealth Speed.” While the author highlights that a majority of the new billionaires came to wealth through higher stock valuations, IPOs, and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), there is no mention of how any of these pathways to opulence may have been aided by policies and practices that skew valuations, shift risks to consumers, reduce the wealthy’s taxes relative to the general population, and inflate asset prices to the detriment of the economy as a whole. We are all supposed to forget the moment last year when the real economy was tanking and the stock market was soaring. Instead, the author claims that “dynamism” is what created this wealth and “the dynamics un­derlying [unprecedented wealth accumulation] point to a better future for everyone.”

Yes, it is positive that some of these new billionaires want to give away their money faster. It is good that they are critiquing the stand­ard practice of parking over $142 billion in donor-advised funds, encouraged by policy, to compound tax-free and accumulate influence. But is that enough to change the dynamics of trillions of dollars in wealth hoarding? While both authors of this essay have been actively involved in philanthropy, impact investing, and the movement to improve responsible corporate governance—and believe there is value in these practices—we are also skeptical of the claims that these “dynamics” alone will lead to human flourishing of the average, middle-class American. If the promises of the new social contract, under a new regime of “stakeholder capitalism,” are to be believed—and these “dynamics” are indeed positively balanced for the good of the whole economy—we should already see the development of demonstrably higher levels of productivity, more innovation, and more competition. We should see more “dynamism.” We do not.

Building wealth through entrepreneurship, wise risk-taking, and investment is vital. In contrast, hoarding wealth by capturing the government and having the policy dials turned in one’s favor to inflate one’s assets hurts the economy and puts everyone’s assets at risk. This hoarding dynamic is the larger, more structural problem we should focus on.

Hoarding Lowers Productivity Growth

Under a policy regime that highly favors the assets of the wealthy, we have seen a decline in productivity growth.20 While output per hour grew at a 2.8 percent rate from 1948 to 1973 under the earlier social contract, it decreased to 1.7 percent growth in productivity from 1973 to 2018. From 2000 to 2018, productivity growth was even worse, increasing at only a 1.2 percent annual rate.21 Before the pandemic, Standard and Poor’s reduced its U.S. growth rating for the 2020s and stated that the hoarding of wealth and incomes was a significant factor that is “harming U.S. economic growth by excluding large parts of the population from its cumulative benefits.”22

Even before the V-shaped distortions of the pandemic bust and boom, the economy was growing at a slower rate, and growth was benefiting the balance sheets of fewer and fewer families. From 2001 to 2016, middle-class families saw their median net worth shrink by 20 percent and working-class families experienced a loss of 45 percent.23 The mind-boggling statistics of wealth hoarding are well reported. Even after multiple economic expansions, the total net worth of the bottom 50 percent of Americans is 20 percent less than it was in 1990.24 The top 1 percent of families has $41 trillion in assets.25 Twenty Americans now have as much wealth as half the U.S. population (152 million people).26 The top three families have a combined wealth that increased by 5,868 percent, now totaling $348.7 billion.27

What has been less discussed in the partisan debates is the connection between this hoarding of wealth at the top and declining productivity. Productivity is a crucial ingredient for material prosperity, and productivity growth in an economy is affected by multiple complex factors. One factor is decentralized and diverse investment in value-creating enterprises across an economy. As Craig Zabala and Daniel Luria have demonstrated, wealth concentration at the top of the American economy has fueled the consolidation of the financial sec­tor into a less competitive marketplace, with significantly fewer bro­kers, fewer commercial depository banks, and a shift from public markets to private credit and equity markets.

The five biggest U.S. banks now control half of the industry’s $15 trillion in assets.28 Thirty years ago, the financial sector claimed around a tenth of U.S. corporate profits. Today, it is almost 30 per­cent.29 According to Zabala and Luria, instead of investing across the economy, wealthy investors and the consolidated financial institutions investing on their behalf are instead betting “on a small slice of the nation’s companies (contributing greatly to the overvaluation of the faang corporations) and spend most of their time making spec­ulative trades trying to beat the S&P’s yields through shorting, arbi­trage, financial engineering, and participation in direct lending activities—the so-called shadow credit market, where rates are often two to three times the major banks’ rates.”

Hoarding Lowers Investment and Balloons Debt

Not only is investment more concentrated, it is also lower in total and invested in predatory business models. As Heather Boushey, White House Economic Council member and founder of the Center for Equitable Growth, wrote in her book Unbound, “In 2018, private residential investment hovered just below 4 percent of gross domestic product, which is at the low end of the historical range of between 4 and 6 percent. Nonresidential investment, which economists sometimes prefer as a reading of overall economic health, is also stagnant.”30 Invest­ment in equipment and structures was also below historical lows.

Over the last two decades, investment has been lower than economic fundamentals would predict and the drop in investment has been highest in concentrated industries.31 Most troubling, contrary to the narrative politicians used to justify turning the dials in favor of the wealthy, the 2017 tax cuts had minimal impact on investment and may actually dampen investment over the long term.32

Since the 1970s, the financial industry unsurprisingly lobbied policy makers to turn the policy dials in their favor, deregulating the financial sector, under the guise of the antisocial contract mentioned above. Without the limits of previous regulation, these institutions moved away from investment in industry into more predatory oppor­tunities, shifting the risk to middle-class families. In the 2000s, the financial industry used this glut of available capital at the top to recklessly expand consumer credit.

In Unbound, Boushey highlights the research of economists Atif Mian and Omar Sufi, who discovered that wealthy investors and financial institutions used their new freedoms and hoarded capital to provide riskier loans mainly to working-class families in zip codes with lower average net worth, creating the main driver for the Great Recession. Of course, the effects of the crisis made the balance sheets of working families even worse. For the bottom 50 percent of Americans, the ratio of consumer credit owed to the value of durable goods owned has risen in the last three decades, from 90 percent to about 150 percent.33 One man’s debt is another man’s asset, and as debt ballooned at the base of the economy, financial assets ballooned at the top, with central banks turning the monetary policy dials, further inflating the assets of the wealthiest asset owners. This pattern started again after the financial crisis. In 2019, even be­fore the pandemic, average middle-class balance sheets were worse than in 2000.34

The average American family’s dependence on private credit has become deeply unstable and imbalanced. In Liberating the Captured Economy, Brink Lindsey and Samuel Hammond explain, “Once total private credit goes past the sweet spot of around 100 percent of GDP, further expansion starts to become counterproductive. In the United States, the ratio is now above 185 percent—down only slightly from its 2007 peak, when it surpassed 200 percent.”35 Policymakers have encouraged the wealthy to hoard other people’s debts and we are seeing even more negative stability.

Hoarding Weakens Entrepreneurship

The decline of diverse and dispersed investment, the ballooning of personal credit, and the deteriorating financial stability of average families have made new business formation more difficult. A 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found that the start-up rate (the number of new companies as a percentage of all firms) has fallen by nearly half since 1978.36 Before the pandemic, start-up rates were stagnant, equal with the closure rate of businesses, and larger, older businesses were accounting for a larger portion of employment.37

Young, high-growth enterprises that innovate new products and services are the beating heart of the American economy and provide a majority of new job creation. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs are creat­ing these firms at lower rates.38 While we have seen an uptick in new start applications in 2021 during the post-pandemic recovery, it is unclear if that trend will overpower decades of entrepreneurial stagnation.

With more firms exiting than entering, incumbent firms are getting bigger, older, and taking a larger and larger market share. After dec­ades of policymakers turning the policy dials to weaken antitrust law and enforcement, virtually every industry in America has become highly con­centrated, with a few players dominating their markets. In 1994, the top one hundred American companies made up one-third of the country’s GDP. Today, these giant corporations account for almost half of American GDP.39 Corporate concentration is causing the slow death of American dynamism and a shift from a market economy to a rentier economy, where businesses seek to find rents from minding a tollgate rather than innovating products and services. Communities with highly concentrated industries also have lower salaries for working families.40 Their jobs paid them less as financial institutions targeted them for riskier credit, providing pathways into working poverty and the disintegration of their communities.

Big is not necessarily bad. Big companies can do innovation at scale. While the likes of IBM, Ford, and Bell Labs under the old social contract prior to the 1970s invested their growing profits into re­search and development, the talents of their employees, and new busi­ness growth, companies in today’s consolidated industries have in­stead focused more resources on acquiring their competition, lobbying against investments in human talent, and sending profits back to investors.41 They are mainly buying back corporate stock and paying out dividends, both factors that raise short-term stock valuations, which helped create forty-four of the eighty-eight new American bil­lionaires last year. Boushey points out that because “the top 10 percent of wealth holders own 84 percent of all stock shares, having firms funnel their profits into higher dividends for shareholders” away from productive investment only leads to further concentration and declining productivity growth.

In sum, declining competition, entrepreneurship, and investment caused by hoarding reduced aggregate productivity by 3.1 percent between 1980 and 2014, negatively impacting all the individual and collective benefits of productivity growth.42 These “dynamics” are not getting better, and the policymakers continue to turn the dials to support hoarding.

In June 2021, the Financial Times reported that the U.S. Federal Reserve loosened policies that restricted stock buybacks of the highly consolidated banking industry, paving the way for “billions of dollars in stock buybacks and dividends, which bank investors have been eagerly anticipating.” Of course they are eagerly awaiting this policy dial change. As a result, the concentration of wealth and markets will grow even further, putting downward pressure on competition, entre­preneur­ship and productivity growth. The economy continues to get more top heavy, becoming unstable and less dynamic.

Turn the Dials to Grow the American Enterprise

If our antisocial contract has led to wealth hoarding, lower productivity growth, and precarious financial situations for America’s working families—but also to political risk for even the wealthy—how do we fix it together? How do we turn the policy dials so that the average American can find the dignity of work, financial stability for their family, and pathways to flourish in their communities? Furthermore, how do we do this in a way that aligns everyone’s interests, including future generations, and grows the total value of the American enterprise?

To achieve these goals, we propose an anti-hoarding reform agenda that turns four dials: take on corruption, promote competition, tax unproductive hoarding, and return the takings. Turning any one of these dials for the middle class would strengthen the country. Enacting all four would end the antisocial contract and restore the dynamism of the American economy.43

Dial one: take on corruption. First, at the core of this problem of wealth and market hoarding is a problem of power hoarding that leads to the corruption of democratic government to serve the interests of fewer and fewer wealthy individuals at the expense of the average working family. It was rational for wealthy donors and their bipartisan collaborators in Washington to pursue weaker rules against campaign finance and lobbying. Given the billions that came from the resulting policy changes, it was an excellent return on investment.44 For the politicians competing for cash and lucrative employment op­portunities after politics, it made sense to take care of their wealthy clientele.

Over the long term, however, this corruption has undermined the legitimacy of government. It has made our country more susceptible to political uprisings and unrest from within and powerful enemies from without. As the late senator Tom Coburn warned, “Power is like morphine. It dulls the senses, impairs judgment, and leads politicians to make choices that damage their own character and the ma­chinery of democracy.” Overplaying one’s hand can be rational in the short term but unreasonable when considering the bigger economic game we are all playing together. We are facing a classic tragedy of the commons.

To solve power hoarding and the corruption it creates, anticorruption activists Josh Silver and Joshua Graham Lynn, founders of the bipartisan nonprofit Represent Us, have outlined sound principles for reform: end secret donations in politics, rein in Super PACs, dramatically reduce politicians’ dependence on special interest mon­ey, and limit lobbying.45 Their advice is common sense. We need laws that prevent the wealthy few from buying elections, and we need to strengthen ethics and financial conflict of interest laws for the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Without these changes, the government will continue to be captured by wealthy interests.

Policy proposals to make these reforms are currently up for debate in Congress. While the partisan debate over voting reform has overshadowed anti-corruption efforts, the latter reforms should not be contro­versial. Conservatives, in the spirit of Senator Tom Coburn, should fight for these reforms based on their appreciation of decentralized power and past intellectual commitments to oppose waste, fraud, and abuse of government power. Progressives should fight for these reforms grounded in their belief in participatory democracy, the rights of average citizens, and the belief that wealthy interests should not control our policies.

Nevertheless, as we attempt to limit the power of wealth for the health of the economy and the legitimacy of our democracy, we will face the challenge that wealth is power. As Christopher Lasch advised in The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, “The difficulty of limiting the influence of wealth suggests that wealth itself needs to be limited. When money talks, everybody else is condemned to listen. For that reason, a democratic society cannot allow unlimited accumulation.” Working with billionaires and wealthy individuals, one quickly realizes that the system bends over backward for the uber‑wealthy. Schedules clear. Doors open. Staff members are more attentive. Extreme wealth has a quality of power and influence all its own. Wealth hoarding has to be limited to protect the machinery of democracy and the functioning of our market economy.

Dial two: restore competition. Limiting the overconcentration of wealth must start with a pro-competition policy limiting the power of highly concentrated industries. As Denise Hearn and Jonathan Tep­per point out in The Myth of Capitalism, a market economy without competition is not a market economy; a monopolistic economy is not innovative, it is not productive, and it actively thwarts Americans pursu­ing entrepreneurial endeavors and small business ownership.

Fortunately for all of us, there is a constructive bipartisan pro-competition movement gaining power and influence in Washington. Its first target is to take on the monopolies and oligopolies that control the internet. This movement is reminiscent of the efforts of some of our most effective trust-busting leaders, including President Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin FDR. Even President Eisenhower, after vanquishing the fascists in World War II, understood the threats of monopoly power to democracy and promoted American ideas of competition law in the rebuilding of Europe.46

Driven mainly by the gross overreach of the technology monopolies with their surveillance-based business models, meddling in poli­tics, and the monitoring of free speech via unelected boards, the “techlash” may lead to positive reforms of America’s competition law and the actual enforcement of these laws by federal agencies.

The bipartisan legislation recently introduced by House antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline and ranking member Ken Buck, the culmination of a seventeen-month investigation of America’s largest tech companies, is the first step in restoring competition and dynamism in the technology sector, one of our most concentrated and most powerful industries, and one of the most significant sources of wealth concentration. President Biden’s recent antitrust executive orders are also a welcome shift in policy to promote a more competitive market economy.

Other, more systemic reforms of competition policy will be neces­sary to prevent mergers and acquisitions in highly concentrated mar­kets outside of technology. But the passing of pro-competition legis­lation for the technology industry would be an excellent first step in ending the antisocial contract with this overconcentrated industry.

Dial three: tax hoarding. Limiting the power of wealthy donors in politics, as well as the power of monopolistic and oligopolistic cor­porations, would make our democracy more responsive to work­ing families and our markets more competitive and dynamic. It would not, however, address the past distributions that have bloated balance sheets at the top of the economy, weakened those at the base, and tipped the balance of power in favor of wealthy interests. We would still face Lasch’s challenge of highly concentrated wealth as highly concentrated, corrupting power.

How could we tax the hoarding of wealth? What are our first principles? In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith stated the first principle of taxation: that “the subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective abilities. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.”47

If Pope Francis had followed his critics’ admonition to “stay in his lane” of morality and doctrine, he could have easily shared the same principle from Jesus himself, who stated, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Catholic social teaching that predates Pope Francis’s pontificate ech­oes Jesus: “As regards taxation, assessment according to the ability to pay is fundamental to a just and equitable system.”48

The greater one’s ability, the more one should be obliged to pay. All things being equal, if one person owns $1 million in assets and makes $100,000 a year in income, and another person is $50,000 in debt and makes $100,000 a year, who has a greater ability to pay? The answer is obvious. The first person has a higher stake in the economy, greater interests in the estate. If we based our system on Smith’s principle, then when we add up all taxes—sales, property, income, capital gains, corpo­rate—we should see a pattern of those with the greatest ability to pay contributing a higher percentage of total taxes relative to their ability—relative to their income and wealth.

This principle of taxing by ability is not just moral; it is basic math. If those with the least capability paid higher percentages of their asset base, they would experience a perverse effect of compounding negative inter­est and vice versa with the wealthy. Eventually, the accumulation at the top and the diminishment at the bottom would cause the economy to collapse. Capital compounds in fewer hands and those deprived of assets become less and less productive as their assets and capabilities shrink.

Most Americans assume that the current tax system follows this principle of contribution based on ability because most reporting in the media focuses on just federal income taxes. The Heritage Foundation makes this same argument: “the top 1% of income earners—those who earned more than $540,000—earned 21% of all U.S. in­come while paying 40% of all federal income taxes. The top 10% earned 48% of the income and paid 71% of federal income taxes.”

Focusing on income alone is a red herring, however. In an in-depth comparative analysis of thirty-eight member countries, the OECD found that “Total wealth stocks are a better reflection of a taxpayers ability to pay.” In the United States, however, assessing all taxes paid, including taxes on property, consumption, payroll, capital income, labor income, at all levels of government, and when one compares these rates to an individual’s “interests in the estate,”—their net wealth—it is precisely the opposite.

After four decades of trickle-down economics, total taxes on the wealthiest have gone down while total taxes on the middle class have stayed fairly stable or gone up relative to net wealth.49 According to economist Branko Milanović, author of Capitalism Alone, “The assets held by the rich, corporate equities and financial products are partially more valuable because they are taxed less than the asset classes of middle classes.” The overall tax burden on wealthy individuals’ assets has declined due to decreases in the estate tax, declines in the capital gains tax, and reductions in corporate income taxes, while at the same time property taxes, sales taxes, and payroll taxes, all of which hit middle-class balance sheets harder, have either increased or stayed the same.50 Looking at ability to pay based on wealth, 99 percent of Americans now pay over double the rate the wealthiest 1 percent pay in taxes.51 The divergence is closer to quadruple the rate when you compare the wealthy and the average middle-class person. This is directly contrary to the principle of “ability to pay,” and it is an incentive that encourages hoarding at the top.

To reverse this dynamic, we could choose to increase taxes on corporate equities, increase capital gains taxes, tax capital trading, restore a broader estate tax, and increase income taxes to earlier rates for the wealthy. The upside of this multivariable approach to taxing hoarding is that these increases would be easy to administer and would not face constitutional challenges. They might also have positive secondary effects. Increasing income taxes on high-earning executives, for example, would decrease incentives to raise their sala­ries at the expense of their workers. S&P 500 CEO salaries are on average 299 times greater than the salary of the average employee at the same firm.52 The downside of these approaches, however, is that we would continue to see corporations and wealthy individuals gam­ing the system through the use of tax havens, skewing their benefit packag­es toward lower-taxed benefits, and avoiding taxes on capital sales by opting for generous loans against their assets over payouts.

To solve the latter problem, and address the hoarding challenge, the United States could implement a more progressive capital gains tax that levies capital income taxes upon capital accrual, called a mark‑to-market tax, instead of based on capital sales. Purely from an efficiency and administrative standpoint, the OECD recommends this approach to taxing hoarding: “Under a mark-to-market tax, the in­crease in wealth would be taxed upon accrual. Such an approach would limit some of the tax arbitrage opportunities that exist in current capital income tax systems.”53 Combined with this form of capital gain tax, the OECD found that that “there is a strong case for an accompanying inheritance tax on efficiency, equity, and administrative grounds.”

Capital income taxes, however, are taxes on “flows” in the economy, not on “stocks” of wealth—not on accumulation. Unfortunately, in a policy regime taxing capital incomes, more productive entrepreneurs that generate higher capital incomes because of their productivity could pay higher taxes, potentially penalizing risk-taking and entrepreneurship.54 Alternatively, the United States could flatten and even replace our capital gains taxes with a tax on net wealth.

Taxing net wealth instead of capital incomes could stimulate pro­ductivity growth, investment, and entrepreneurship by penalizing low-return investments and rewarding high-return ones.55 Under a regime that taxes net wealth but has low or no taxes on capital incomes, entrepreneurs who have similar wealth levels pay similar taxes regardless of their productivity, which expands the tax base, shifts the tax burden toward unproductive entrepreneurs, and raises the savings rate of productive ones.56 Switzerland has chosen this approach: zero­ing out their capital gains tax and implementing a progressive wealth tax.

Whether policymakers choose to raise capital gains taxes or tax wealth accumulation, we should avoid France’s example. It had both progressive capital income taxes and wealth accumulation taxes, which raised total tax levels too far toward overtaxation on the Laffer curve, discouraging productivity and growth.57

In the United States, replacing existing taxes on capital with a revenue-neutral net wealth tax could boost national income by 10 percent.58 A wealth tax could be the key to shifting America from a hoarder’s economy to a producer’s economy. As Martin Sandbu, eco­nomics writer for the Financial Times has said, “by raising the rate of productivity growth overall, a net wealth tax is a method of taxing that grows the economic pie” even as it addresses hoarding and wealth divergences.59

Dial four: give back the takings. Regardless of whether we tax capital incomes more progressively or tax net wealth, our tax system needs to be reformed based on ability to pay, with wealth being an important factor. Either way, we need a solution that would win broad support from working families, better align the interests of all classes and all regions, and benefit everyone over the long term. We need a policy that addresses the root problem of hoarding yet avoids an approach that pits average Americans against a highly sophisticated industry of accountants, lobbyists, and attorneys.

These types of solutions are often criticized as punishing the wealthy, or unfair “redistribution” of the hard-earned money of the wealthy to the masses. One can also say, however, that the dial turns of recent decades have been punishing the 90 percent of American taxpayers and that policymakers have subsidized the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy through the taxes of the average Americans. Hence policy aiming in the other direction is not necessarily “redistribution” to the masses; it is giving back to them what was taken in the first place. We need a tax on hoarding that gives back, over time, the $50 trillion in takings under the existing antisocial contract.

Putting money back in the hands of the working and middle clas­ses goes immediately into the bloodstream of the economy by creating healthy demand for products and services. Giving property own­ership back to the average American powers productive capacity to build and deliver these products and services. An empirical study conducted by the University of Chicago and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 1 percent of GDP in tax cuts for the bottom 90 percent results in roughly 3 percentage points of GDP growth over a two-year period. The same 1 percent of GDP in tax cuts for the top 10 percent had no statistical impact on growth.60 Another IMF study found that a 10 percent decrease in hoarding (a change in the Gini coefficient to 0.37 from 0.40) increases the expected length of a growth spell by 50 percent.61

Ultimately, business leaders know that if we slice the tax pie in a fair manner, it increases economic mobility and the entire economic pie grows. This is positive stability: an economy destined to grow. To explain this complex dynamic by analogy, an economy with positive stability is like the National Football League. The NFL has a total enterprise value of $91 billion, more than the MLB and NBA combined.62 What is the key to this growth and success? The NFL enter­prise uses the policies of the draft—giving the lowest performing team the first-round draft pick and capping salaries on spending—to drive performance. We see in this example that by turning the dials to help lower-performing teams improve, the enterprise value of the entire league grows and the games are more interesting to watch. This is not a policy regime of total equality—some teams consistently miss the playoffs, others win multiple Super Bowls—but the total enterprise value increases, benefiting everyone. Since 2000, the average value of an NFL franchise has grown from $423 million to over $3 billion.63 This strategy of sharing the opportunity is the secret to the NFL, and it used to be the secret of America’s success.

As a thought experiment of what this could look like, we can consider an existing proposal from economists Emanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman that places a tax of 2 percent on a net worth of over $50 million in assets, with an additional 1 percent per year on wealth in excess of $1 billion, with no exemptions allowed.64 This tax would apply to the net fair market value of various asset types held by a taxpayer, including cash, bank deposits, shares, fixed assets, real prop­erty, pension plans, money funds, and trusts. This tax would only affect seventy-five thousand families and, by their estimates, raise $2.75 trillion in revenue over ten years. In contrast to other wealth taxes in Europe, and consistent with OECD advice on wealth taxation, the threshold is higher and affects far fewer families, the ones that currently pay the least relative to their abilities.

To address the challenge of the wealthy holding their wealth out­side the United States or just leaving the country, Saez and Zucman highlight that the United States now has stricter reporting requirements for foreign assets since 2010, and they also propose an exit fee to make it difficult to give up citizenship. Responding to the challenge that assets were hard to quantify in countries like Austria, where policymakers repealed the wealth tax, Saez and Zucman respond that in the United States, we have a more extensive culture of calculating the value of all types of assets, even intangible assets like intellectual property.

Scott Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation, has critiqued Senator Warren’s adoption of this plan, saying that these seventy-five thousand families would “sell their assets at fire-sale prices to pay the tax. Because the U.S. is an open economy, many of these assets would be bought by foreign investors at the discounted prices.”65 But what if there were millions of additional buyers of stock inside the United States?

What if, instead of sending all of these funds raised by either a more progressive capital gains tax or a net wealth tax to the general federal budget—where a large portion of it would likely line the pock­ets of inhabitants of the greater Washington, D.C., area—this $2.75 trillion was given back to the public over time? What if it was invested in a national endowment fund with flexible investment ac­counts for every American?

This proposal would allow capital to circulate inside the economy, expand the capital base, strengthen social cohesion, bolster the aver­age working family’s financial resiliency, and ensure that everyone, including the rich, is working together toward common goals of mutual flourishing. With lower levels of wealth concentration, better family balance sheets, and the flexibility to use these investment accounts for education, health expenses, training, and starting businesses, productivity growth would surge again, creating what Ritchie calls “gush up” economics. Hence the fourth pillar of our reform: the creation of Citizens Capital Accounts as a flexible asset base for every American citizen.

Citizens Capital 

Nicholas Berggruen, the founder of Berggruen Holdings and the Berg­gruen Institute, has outlined some of the advantages of something like Citizens Capital.66 If every American had a Citizens Capital account, it would make every American an owner, giving them a stake in the American enterprise’s future productivity and value creation. As he highlights, value creation currently happens more via intangible assets (platforms, intellectual capital, financial capital), not labor. With artificial intelligence and other technologies, this dynamic will get more intense. All Americans should benefit as owners of productive assets in an economy using their private data to grow and produce value.

Citizens Capital does not have to be exclusive of wage subsidies (e.g., earned income tax credits) but would need to be an important tool for rebuilding assets for lower- and middle-class workers that gives them opportunities to benefit from compounding asset growth. Wage subsidies could be used as a compliment to Citizens Capital to give back the funds via payroll tax credits with less structure and even more flexibility. Pairing both with financial literacy and investment education programs would align with OECD guidance: “Measures supporting savings at the bottom of the income and wealth distribution as well as financial education to inform lower income and wealthy individuals about invest­ment opportunities yielding higher returns” are key tools in addressing extreme wealth divergences.67

Addressing our current social trust crisis, Citizen’s Capital would align the interests of Americans that currently work in two different economies: the capital-based economy and the wage-based economy. During the Gilded Age of wealth concentration, G. K. Chesterton warned about the “economic condition in which there is a class of capitalists roughly recognizable and relatively small, in whose possession so much of the capital is concentrated as to necessitate a very large majority of the citizens serving those capitalists for a wage.”

This approach of using a tax on hoarding to fund Citizens Capital would reverse this power dynamic and give everyone access to capital, not equal amounts but at least a stake in the game, with capital in­come to supplement their wage income. This tool would also align those that develop the next high-growth start-up and those that care for our families, maintain our infrastructure, and steward our natural resources. We would all be playing in the same game. All forms of productivity, both maintaining and innovating, would be encouraged through investment.

In practical terms, how could this be done? One element could be a child trust fund: a federally funded trust account could be created for each American child to access when they reach the age to vote. Americans could use these funds to study at a college or vocational school, buy a house, or to start a business. These child trust funds would address some of the core economic mobility challenges of minorities and those growing up in low-net-worth zip codes highlighted in Raj Chetty’s research.68 Instead of pitting minorities and the white working class from rural areas against each other, put them on the same team as fellow Americans with a common stake in a growing, productive economy. Immigrants, upon legally becoming citizens, will also benefit as their productivity benefits their fellow citizens.

Australia and Singapore provide additional models of Citizens Capi­tal. Everyone who has worked and resided in Australia has a Superannuation Account, as part of a $2.9 trillion sovereign wealth fund, with a value greater than Australia’s GDP. The fund provides a way for all Australians to benefit from compounding investments in stocks, bonds, and other forms of capital. Singapore has a similar Central Provident Fund that allows citizens to invest through their individual accounts in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), fixed deposits, bonds, and other securities. Australia has among the highest levels of median wealth per citizen of OECD countries, in contrast to America which has one of the lowest among rich countries.69 Wise stewardship of its sovereign wealth fund has allowed Singapore to simultaneously lower taxes, raise the quality of public education, and lower wealth and income divergences.70

In addition to funds earned from taxes on hoarding, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes an additional avenue to further build the Citizens Capital Fund.71 The U.S. Government could take a stake in companies that it bailed out in past and future crises. Banks that were bailed out, pharmaceutical companies with windfalls from vaccine programs, and technology companies that benefited from forced lockdowns and mandated telework would be required to provide taxpayers ownership shares. The public is taking on the risk; they should benefit from the returns via regular distributions to all citizens, similar to the dividends paid by the Alaskan social wealth fund.

A dynamic economy is circulating capital not hoarding capital. A tax on hoarding that converts the hoarded capital into assets, incomes, and skills for the average American puts that capital back in the blood­stream. It benefits everyone, including the rich, with higher levels of productivity growth, lower levels of poverty and dependency, a growing American enterprise, and higher levels of social cohesion that lead to a stronger nation in a complex global environment.

Renewing America’s Social Covenant

Why would Pope Francis wade into a risky political battle over economics, and even take on his wealthy donors? His ethos is that of a peacemaker. Like his predecessors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Francis knows that a political economy where the wealthy have stripped families of the dignity of working and stewarding their property is a powder keg for social conflict.

Many economists and political thinkers are beginning to rediscover that economies are embedded in a context of human relationships;72 there is a virtuous relationship between Smith’s Theory of Moral Sen­timents and The Wealth of Nations. Societies that have strong social covenants of mutual trust and reciprocity also have higher levels of productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship.73 Economist Branko Milanović best captures how a healthy social covenant prevents the unstable hoarding of wealth: “It is not clear if the societies so dedicated to the acquisition of wealth by practically any means, would not explode into chaos were it not for these constraints.”74

In the years since our initial advocacy began in 2015, we have witnessed increasing violence, rising radical factions on both the right and the left, and growing social and political unrest. Martin Sandbu summarized our crisis well: “the political divisions we are experiencing are the product of the end of economic belonging.”

We can measure social instability over time. With increasing chaos, America has become more vulnerable to domestic unrest and external security threats from authoritarian rivals. In their 2020 Global Peace Index, the Institute for Peace and Economics observed that the United States experienced the most significant decline out of all the countries in the study, falling twenty-six places to 121st out of the 161 countries. In a separate study of the political stability of 178 countries, called the Fragile States Index, the United States saw the largest year-on-year decline in total score in 2021. This instability affects our standing, our security, and our place in the world. If policymakers do nothing to address the fundamental dynamics of wealth and power concentration, American peace, freedom, and security are all at sig­nificant risk of further deterioration.

Alternatively, the wealthy of our country have the patriotic oppor­tunity to give back the takings, stop spreading the outdated ideology of trickle-down economics, restore productivity growth, and renew the social covenant with the American people. We have a window of opportunity to build a better future where every American can achieve the American dream and flourish in their community. The time to act together is now, before it is too late.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume V, Number 3 (Fall 2021): 44–65.

The authors would like to thank Dr. James Noyes, senior fellow at the Social Markets Foundation, for his review and advice in the development of this essay.

1 Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen, “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax,” ProPublica, June 8, 2021.

2 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (2013), chap. 2, sec. 54.

3 Scott McMurray, “Money Machine: Little-Known Firm has Become the Envy of the Options Industry,”  Wall Street Journal, February 8, 1988.

4 Matthew Yglesias, “That Time Donald Trump Proposed a 14.5 Percent Wealth Tax,” Vox, January 31, 2019.

5 Raj Chetty et al., “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940,” National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 22910, December 2016.

6 Chetty et al., “Fading American Dream.”

7 Lina M. Khan, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Yale Law Journal 126, no 3 (January 2017): 717–21.

8 Leonardo Davoudi, Christopher Mckenna, and Rowena Olegario, “The Historical Role of the Corporation in Society,” Journal of the British Academy 6, no. S1 (2018): 17–47.,

9 Thomas L. Hungerford,, “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945,” Congressional Research Service, December 12, 2012.

10 Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards, Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018 (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2020).

11 Arthur Laffer, “The Laffer Curve: Past, Present, and Future,” Heritage Foundation, June 1, 2004.

12 “Distributional Analysis of the Conference Agreement for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Tax Policy Center, December 18, 2017.

13 Dylan Scott and Alvin Chang, “The Republican Tax Bill Will Exacerbate Income Inequality In America,” Vox, December 2, 2017.

14 William Gale and Clare Haldeman, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Searching for Supply Side Effects,” Brookings Institution, June 28, 2021.

15 Bradley T. Borden and Ariel S. Greenblum, “Slashing Corporate Taxes: Foreign Investors Are Surprise Winners,” Tax Policy Center. October 23, 2017.

16 William G. Gale, “Did the 2017 Tax Cut-the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-pay for Itself?,” Brookings Institution, October 27, 2020.

17 Richard Rubin and Theo Francis, “Did the U.S. Tax Overhaul Do What It Promised?” Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2020.

18 Randall Lane, “Operation Wealth Speed: What A Record Number Of New, Self-Made Billionaires Says About Capitalism,” Forbes, July 4, 2021.

19 James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas, and Andrew Shorrocks,  “Global Wealth Report,” Credit Suisse Research Institute, June 22, 2021.

20 Heather Boushey, Unbound (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019), 18.

21 Shawn Sprague, “The U.S. Productivity Slowdown: An Economy-wide and Industry-level Analysis,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021.

22 “Global Credit Portal,” Standard & Poor’s, July 28, 2017.

23 Juliana Menasce Horowitz, et. al., “Trends in U.S. Income and Wealth Inequality,” Pew Research Center, August 17, 2020.

24 Ed Dolan, “The Bottom Falls Out for the Bottom Class,” Milken Institute Review, January 23, 2020.

25 “Table: Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989,” U.S. Federal Reserve, accessed July 26, 2021.

26 Robert Frank. “Top 20 Billionaires Worth as Much as Half of America,” CNBC, December 5, 2015.

27 Eillie Anzilotti, “It’s Time to Break Up Wealth Dynasties in the United States,” Fast Company, November 16, 2018.

28 Jordan Weissman, “How Wall Street Devoured Corporate America.” Atlantic, March 5, 2013.

29 “A Structural View of U.S. Bank Holding Companies,” New York Federal Reserve, July 28, 2017.

30 Heather Boushey, Unbound, 177–78.

31 Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon, “Investment-less Growth: An Empirical Investigation,” NBER Working Paper 22897, January 2016.

32 Filippo Occhino, “The Effect of the 2017 Tax Reform on Investment,”  Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 2020.

33 Dolan, Milken Institute Review, 2020.

34 Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, and Rakesh Kochhar. “Trends in U.S. Income and Wealth Inequality,” Pew Research Center, August 17, 2020.

35 Brink Lindsey and Samuel Hammond, “Faster Growth, Fairer Growth: Liberating the Captured Economy,” Niskanen Center, October 5, 2020.

36 Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn, Audrey Breitwieser, and Patrick Liu, “The State of Competition and Dynamism: Facts about Concentration, Start-ups, and Related Policies,” Brookings Institution, June 13, 2018.

37 “Dynamism Diagnostics: Five Observations from the Latest Data,” Economic Innovation Group, October 1, 2020.

38 Ryan A. Decker et al., “Declining Dynamism, Allocative Efficiency, and the Productivity Slowdown,” American Economic Review 107, no. 5 (2017): 322–26.

39 “A giant problem,Economist, September 17, 2016; Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn, The Myth of Capitalism (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2019), 146–48.

40 José Azard, Ioana Marinescu, and Marshall Steinbaum, “Labor Market Concentration,” SSRN, December 15, 2017.

41 Suzanne Berger, “How Finance Gutted Manufacturing,” Boston Review, November 10, 2016.

42 Titan Alon et al., “Older and Slower: The Startup Deficit’s Lasting Effects on Aggregate Productivity Growth,” NBER Working Paper No. 23875, September 2017.

43 Policymakers will also need to turn other policy dials including those that regulate corporate governance, worker rights, and financial markets. For the purposes of this essay we focus broadly on wealth hoarding as it relates to taxation and property ownership in the economy.

44 “Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions get trillions.” Sunlight Foundation, October 26, 2016.

45 “We Can Criminalize Corruption by Passing This Law,” American Anti-Corruption Act (website), December 12, 2018..

46 Tepper and Hearn, The Myth of Capitalism, 146–48.

47 Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, p.(1776), 825.

48 Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961), sec. 132.

49 Ray Dalio, “The Biden Tax and Spend Plan & The Big Cycle Swing,” LinkedIn, May 3, 2021.

50 Dalio, LinkedIn, 2021.

51 Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States” Quarterly Journal of Economics 133, no. 2 (May 2018).

52 “Executive Paywatch,” AFL-CIO, 2020.

53 “The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD,” OECD Tax Policy Studies, no. 26 (2018).

54 “The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD.”

55 Martin Sandbu, “Why the Toughest Capitalists Should Root for a Wealth Tax,” Financial Times. May 9, 2021.

56 “The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD.”

57 “The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD.”

58 Faith Guvenen et al., “Use It or Lose It: Efficiency Gains from Wealth Taxation,” NBER Working Paper 26284, September 2019.

59 Martin Sanbu, The Economics of Belonging (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020), 177.

60 Owen Zidar, “Tax Cuts for Whom? Heterogeneous Effects of Income Tax Changes on Growth and Employment,” National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2015.

61 Andrew Berg, Jonathan Ostry, and Jeormin Zettelmeyer, “What Makes Growth Sustained?,” International Monetary Fund Working Paper no. WP/08/59, 2008. 8

62 Mike Ozanian,  “The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams 2019: Cowboys Lead League At $5.5 Billion.” Forbes, September 6, 2019.

63 Christina Gough, “Average NFL Franchise Value,” Statista, October 12, 2020.

64 Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, “Scoring the Warren Wealth Tax Proposal,” Letter to Senator Warren, January 18, 2019.

65 Scott A Hodge, “Opinion: Warren’s Wealth Tax Enriches Foreign Billionaires,” Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2021.

66 Nicolas Berggruen et al., “Here’s How Blockchain Can Reduce Inequality,” Noema, January 29, 2018.

67 “The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD,” 2018.

68 Annie Lowrey, “A Cheap, Race-Neutral Way to Close the Racial Wealth Gap,” Atlantic, June 30, 2020.

69 Carlotta Balestra and Richard Tonkin, “Inequalities in Household Wealth across OECD Countries,” OECD, June 20, 2018.

70 Ray Dalio et al., “Joe Stiglitz & Ray Dalio: Share The Wealth As We Recover Health,” Noema. June 9, 2020.

71 Dalio et al., Noema.

72 Adrian Pabst and Ron Ivey, “Why We Must Build a New Civic Covenant,” New Statesman, April 7, 2021.

73 Stephen Knack and Philip Keefer, “Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 112, no. 4 (1997); Christian Bjørnskov, “How Does Social Trust Affect Economic Growth?,” SSRN, 2009.

74 Branko Milanovic, Capitalism Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019), 80.

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