Walter E. Williams

Congress repealed the luxury tax in 1993 after realizing it was a job killer and raised little net revenue. Why did congressional dreams of greater revenues turn into a nightmare? Kennedy, Mitchell and their congressional colleagues simply assumed that the rich would act the same after the imposition of the luxury tax as they did before and that the only difference would be more money in the government's coffers. Like most politicians then and now, they had what economists call a zero-elasticity vision of the world, a fancy way of saying they believed that people do not respond to price changes. People always respond to price changes. The only debatable issue is how much and over what period.

Here's my question for you: Is it likely that in the two decades since 1990, American human nature has changed? If Congress imposes a luxury tax on corporate jets and other luxury items, will Americans behave differently this time? In other words, can we expect federal tax revenues to rise and unemployment to fall as a result of Obama's tax proposal?

I don't believe that Obama is dumb enough to believe that a tax on corporate jets would be a revenue generator. His agenda is to inspire envy and resentment against wealthy Americans as a tool in pursuit of his higher-tax agenda.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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