La solución del 70%

BERKELEY.– A través de un sinuoso recorrido por Internet –Paul Krugman, de la Universidad de Princeton, citó a Mark Thoma, de la Universidad de Oregon, en su lectura del Journal of Economic Perspectives– llegué a una copia de un artículo escrito por Emmanuel Saez, cuya oficina está a 15 metros de la mía sobre el mismo corredor, y el premio Nobel de Economía Peter Diamond. Saez y Diamond proponen que la tasa impositiva marginal que las sociedades del Atlántico Norte deben imponer a sus ciudadanos más ricos es del 70%.

Es una afirmación fascinante, dada la manía de recortes impositivos que ha prevalecido en esas sociedades durante los últimos 30 años, pero la lógica de Diamond y Saez es clara. Los superricos controlan y disponen de tantos recursos que realmente están saciados, aumentar o disminuir su riqueza no afecta su felicidad. Por lo tanto, sin importar cómo ponderemos su felicidad en relación a la de los demás –ya sea que los consideramos loables industriales que merecen sus encumbradas posiciones, o como ladrones parásitos– sencillamente no podemos hacer nada que la afecte a través de aumentos o disminuciones de sus impuestos.

La consecuencia inevitable de este argumento es que cuando calculamos la tasa impositiva para los superricos no debemos considerar el efecto de sus variaciones sobre su felicidad, ya que sabemos que es cero. Por el contrario, la pregunta central debe ser el efecto de un cambio en sus tasas impositivas sobre el bienestar del resto de nosotros.

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