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Hatred of the rich is an emotion that must be sated

Fans of Theodore Dalrymple [1]
January 9, 2019

France in the good old days, writes Dalrymple,

could have debauched the currency to cancel its debt. But its room for manœuvre is now severely circumscribed; for historical reasons, its German neighbours, who prop up the currency they share, are averse to such debauchery.

In Western countries today, to refrain from taking money from someone

is now to give him a present, which suggests that he had no right to the money in the first place, and that what remains to him is only by grace and favour.

The point seems lost on most of the French that

you don’t raise the most revenue by taxing highly, as if people with money were a herd of unmilked cows in a rich pasture, ever able to produce more.

Even, says Dalrymple, if people were to grasp

that wealth is dynamic rather than static [2], that the tax on fortunes lowers the sum raised, they would still want the tax. Its symbolism is more important than its effect.