Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taxing Professors and Cowboys

A Harvard economist and former George W. Bush adviser explains it all in a piece titled, "I Can Afford Higher Taxes. But They’ll Make Me Work Less."

Less scholarly mortals should be grateful for enlightenment about how earning $1000 for an article is such a burden for a professor with more than $250,000 a year in income that the economy will crash if Congress doesn't extend the tax cuts his former boss gave people in his bracket.

More than half a century ago, when the top bracket was 84 percent rather than 39.6, a similar grumble came from the celluloid cowboy John Wayne, whom I ventured to tell, "If I were getting that many millions for making faces at cameras, I wouldn't complain about giving most of it back to people who buy tickets to see me do it."

That was in the Eisenhower era, when a small fraction of a lot was still a fortune, and the tax rate did not discourage Wayne from making movies as fast as he could.

Whatever happens now, here's hoping the professor keeps up with his writing too, even if he has to waive the fees for articles like this one.

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