…but every once in a while I have to remind myself why.
Seriously, this guy is a force of nature. Unfortunately not all of our exchange is captured in this link (I think maybe I spared Miles Kimball at some point, and so Twitter didn’t put those tweets in the same thread), but let me summarize for you what happened:
- Complete stranger jumps into a friendly disagreement I’m having with Miles Kimball, calls me an idiot, and says James Madison supported large-scale redistribution of wealth.
- I express surprise that Madison favored federal government levying taxes on rich individuals in order to make payments to poor individuals.
- He again points out how ignorant libertarians are, says I need to stop everything and spend 2 years reading Madison.
- I find one of his blog posts that he says has all the details. It quotes Madison laying out 5 concrete steps that (among other things) will reduce inequality. None of them involves taxing rich people, and Madison explicitly says he doesn’t want to interfere with the rights of property and wants equality before the law. I ask the guy if he has any other quotes where Madison clearly supports redistribution.
- The guy reiterates that I’m an idiot and a scoundrel.
- I say if that’s the case, it should be easy to produce a quote where Madison supports a federal tax on rich individuals.
- Guy asks, “How else can you reduce inequality except by a tax on rich people?”
- I am astounded and say, “So this whole time you’ve been *deducing* his support for redistribution?” I point out that it took a Constitutional amendment for federal government to be able to levy taxes on individuals. I also point out that if he re-reads his own blog post, he’ll see a list of measures that Madison supported which would reduce inequality, without involving a federal tax on rich people.
- He asks, “so what?”
I’m starting to understand what forces drive a man to become someone like Brad DeLong.