Monday, October 19, 2015

"Steve Jobs" Movie and the Democratic Folly to Tax the Rich

Steve Fassbender (left) plays Steve Jobs (right)
This week I saw the new film "Steve Jobs," a bioptic starring Michael Fassbender in the title role, and Kate Winslet as his loyal conscience, er, assistant, Joanna Hoffman. My film-critic husband gave it three out of four stars, a rating with which I'd agree.

But just as important as its cinematic quality is what it suggests about the Democrats' incessant bashing of "the wealthy."

Steve Jobs' character is so narcissistic, so sure he's right and will change the course of the world, he flattens those around him in his tire-treads. His assistant tries to assert herself, but consistently bends to his dictates. His daughter reaches out for his affection-- with even a desperate hug-- and receives only icicles. His friend Steve Wozniak, the tech wizard behind Apple's operating systems, relentlessly begs recognition for his co-workers' efforts, but Jobs, relishing his God-like power, spurns him.

The film is populated by the new "one-percent." There's a whole Silicon Valley, and several other cities nationally, filled with start-up millionaires, website successes, and app-Princes. They're young, they work incessantly, and they make big money for it. Additionally, they want to keep that money.

Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton want the wealthy's "fair share."

Hillary Clinton, in her opening speech at the Democratic debate, spoke of being "the grand-daughter of a factory worker" who seeks to "even the odds." "Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much," she asserted, "So I have specific recommendations about how we’re going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share..."

One wonders if all those website, app and start-up developers agree they're not "paying their fair share." These young entrepreneurs are mostly products of elite universities (or dropouts from them) where liberal,er, progressive politics are assumed and promulgated as fact and truth. And yet they want the prize for their labors. They're an important voter group that by their age should support Democrats, but by their accomplishments and self-interest may not. 

This June, Verdant Labs came out with a ranking of professions by party affiliation. No surprise: In academia you'll find nine Democrats per solitary Republican. In Internet technology, the Democrat to Republican ratio is 3 to 1. In a post-2012 election analysis, Nate Silver in the NY Times showed how the Silicon Valley is growing ever more blue. 

But will that turn around when Democratic candidates demand successful techies pay much more to the government? After all, using standard assumptions in the State of California, someone earning $250,000 this year forfeits nearly $100,000 of it to mandatory taxes and deductions. Bernie Sanders says tax on the wealthy should be "a damned lot higher than it is now," and approvingly cited rates of 91% under President Dwight Eisenhower. Will that sound appealing to millennials amassing their fortunes?

Here's an excerpt from Sanders' interview this May with John Harwood of CNBC:

Harwood: When you think about 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?

Sanders: No. That’s not 90 percent of your income, you know? That’s the marginal. I’m sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I’m not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it’s the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you. I think you’ve got a lot of millionaires saying, “You know what? I’ve made a whole lot of money. I don’t want to see kids go hungry in America. Yeah, I’ll pay my fair share.”

Bernie Sanders wants to tax rich at a "damn lot higher rate."
Nobody wants to see kids go hungry in America. That's why this year 46,674,000 people receive Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program funds from the government.

I'm eager to discover how this generation of tech successes places its divided loyalties in the upcoming election. Will they cleave to their political histories and support Democrats, or will they guard their wealth and quietly move toward Republicans?

It's my guess that Hillary and Bernie's cries of "tax the rich!" will turn well-to-do techies decidedly fiscally conservative (even as they remain socially liberal), driving this growing constituency right into the moderate Republican camp.

Steve Jobs' politics weren't covered in the movie, though it's said he supported Barack Obama. In the film, though, he uses his wealth to wield power over his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his daughter. I can't imagine work-obsessed tech millennials willingly parting with most of the fruits of their labors (and giving up the power that comes with it) to solve "inequality" for the masses. No, Bernie, you won't find many techies saying "You know what? I've made a whole lot of money...and want to give it to the government." Whomever gets the nomination will learn that fairly quickly, I'm sure.

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