In a column published Tuesday morning, New York Times columnist David Brooks offered one of the most bizarre prescriptions for what ails America that I've seen in quite some time:
Second, the elite we do have has to acknowledge that privilege imposes duties. Wealthy people have an obligation to try to follow a code of seemliness. No luxury cars for college-age kids. No private jet/ski weekends. Live a lifestyle that is more integrated into middle-class America than the one you can actually afford. Strike a blow for social cohesion.
If over-consumption of luxury goods by the wealthy is a problem then why not make the wealthy pay higher taxes? You could structure it as a progressive consumption tax even. Then you could give the money to the poor, or if you're concerned about work incentives you could give it as a wage subsidy to the working poor. Wouldn't that make more sense than just arbitrarily exhorting the rich to stockpile funds rather than buy BMWs for the kids? And isn't this taxes angle obvious enough that Brooks could have addressed it somewhere in the piece?