Let Them Leave
Jagmeet Singh recently proposed a super-wealth tax that would raise $5.6 billion in the first year, and around $70 billion over the next decade. This money would help offset the current recession providing an alternative path to austerity.
The proposal was met with enthusiasm by most Canadians, and similar measures have been proven to work in the past. However, some argue against the proposal stating that it punishes success, and will lead to successful entrepreneurs leaving Canada for greener pastures.
To determine if this is a legitimate concern we have to consider the factors that lead to success. One popular idea is that success is the result of hard work, skill, and determination. This idea is otherwise known as meritocracy. The individuals who do the work become successful, and thus deserve to reap the rewards of their success.
However, mounting evidence suggests that the dominant factor in success is actually luck as opposed to hard work. It turns out that being born into a rich family, having the freedom to pursue your interests, being provided with business connections, etc., creates the opportunities necessary for success.
The concept of meritocracy relies on a false narrative of who becomes successful and why. Meritocracy implies that successful people have done something extraordinary that can’t be accomplished by a majority of people as opposed to having simply gotten lucky. In fact, Michael Young originally coined the term to ridicule the idea of such a society.
The reality of the situation is that most people work hard all their lives, but only a few people see the opportunities for success. The merits of the individual are eclipsed by factors that are largely out of their control. People born into money have a head start in life by having more doors open for them. An average person has to spend the majority of their week working hard just to put food on the table and have a roof over their head. Meanwhile, a rich person is free to pursue their interests and passions without having to worry how they’re going to sustain themselves.
Unfortunately, successful people themselves often suffer the effects of self-attribution fallacy where they see their success as the product of their hard work. In fact, there is an entire cottage industry peddling self-help miracles guaranteed to unlock the path to success by following the same steps that the lucky few followed.
The notion of meritocracy helps perpetuate an unfair system where most people are not able to realize their full potential. Meanwhile, a small number of successful individuals are placed on a pedestal. We must reject this idea and look at success holistically, considering the individual along with the opportunities they were afforded on their way to becoming successful.
Therefore, the fear that successful individuals will leave Canada due to higher taxes is fundamentally misplaced. Instead of viewing the departure of these people as a loss, we should see it as an opportunity. A wealth tax will create a way to filter out businesses that do not want to pay their fair share, and cultivate the ones that do.
Furthermore, given the dominant role that luck plays in success, it’s only logical to distribute the wealth of the country fairly as opposed to allowing it to concentrate in the hands of the lucky few. We’d be much better off with a system that empowers the majority of individuals to pursue their interests instead of having to play a lottery to chase success. This system is socialism.
The JI Newsletter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. If using material from the newsletter, please credit the author and provide a link to the relevant newsletter in your attribution. Any content produced using material from the JI newsletter must be licensed under the same terms.