Die 70%-Lösung

BERKELEY: Über eine umständliche Internet-Verkettung – Paul Krugman (Princeton University) zitierte eine Lektüre von Mark Thoma (University of Oregon) im Journal of Economic Perspectives – kam ich an einen Artikel, den Emmanuel Saez (dessen Büro 15 Meter von meinem entfernt liegt) und Ökonomie-Nobelpreisträger Peter Diamond verfasst hatten. Saez und Diamond argumentieren darin, dass der Grenzsteuersatz, den nordatlantische Gesellschaften ihren reichsten Bürgern auferlegen, richtigerweise 70% betragen sollte.

Angesichts der Steuersenkungsmanie, die in diesen Gesellschaften seit nunmehr 30 Jahren vorherrscht, ist dies eine absolut erstaunliche Behauptung, doch die Logik von Diamond und Saez ist eingängig. Die Superreichen beherrschen und steuern so viele Ressourcen, dass sie de facto gesättigt sind: Die Erhöhung oder Verringerung ihres Vermögens hätte keine Auswirkungen auf ihre Zufriedenheit. Egal also, wie viel Gewicht wir ihrer Zufriedenheit im Vergleich zur Zufriedenheit anderer zubilligen – ob wir sie nun als lobenswerte Kapitäne unserer Wirtschaft oder als diebische Parasiten betrachten –, wir können schlechthin nichts tun, um ihre Zufriedenheit durch Erhöhung oder Senkung ihrer Steuersätze zu beeinflussen.

Die unvermeidliche Schlussfolgerung, die sich aus diesem Argument ergibt, ist, dass wir bei der Berechnung des Steuersatzes der Superreichen die Auswirkungen einer Änderung ihres Steuersatzes auf ihre Zufriedenheit unberücksichtigt lassen sollten, denn wir wissen ja, dass diese bei null liegen. Die zentrale Frage muss vielmehr sein, was die Auswirkungen der Änderung ihres Steuersatzes auf das Wohl der übrigen von uns sind.

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