During an appearance on MSNBC, Michael Strain, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said that Americans should give thanks for billionaires.
Strain made the remarks on Thanksgiving as families across the national were gathering together.
“They are all doing stuff to contribute to the economy,” Strain to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. “We should be saying success is good. We should want more billionaires, not fewer.”
Velshi pointed out that billionaires — like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — built their fortunes “off the backs of people making $15/hour.”
“Jeff Bezos made that annual salary every 11 and a half seconds,” Velshi observed. “Do you think there’s a problem with that relationship?”
“I don’t see a problem,” Strain scoffed. “The market is determining wages based on productivity. The market for CEOs is thin.”
“Jeff Bezos, by creating Amazon, is giving American workers a raise by lowering the prices they pay for the goods they buy,” he insisted.
“Are you at all troubled by what happens when you have income and wealth inequality grow at the rate we’ve seen it?” Velshi wondered.
“What troubles me is the need to push economic opportunity into low-income households, into working-class households,” Strain complained. “Is the best way to go about doing that tearing down and demonizing billionaires?”
“The problem is we’ve got 40 million people in this country who are food insecure,” Velshi replied, “in a country where we’ve got a whole bunch of billionaires. Wouldn’t taxation solve some of that?”
“We do have a progressive tax system,” Strain agreed. “The higher your income, the more you pay in taxes.”
“The message should not be that billionaires are mistakes,” he added. “The message should be that we need more billionaires. The message should be is that success is something we should celebrate, not something we should denigrate. So I have a big problem with [Democrats’ anti-billionaire] message.”
According to Strain, candidates like Elizabeth Warren were wrong to pursue a wealth tax, which he said would solve “no problems in society.”
“It is dividing America along class lines,” he opined. “It does not solve a problem.”
“It does solve a problem,” Velshi shot back. “You may not like the math on it… but it does solve a problem if you tax the most wealthy in this country a little bit more in a country where we’ve got remarkable income inequality.”