FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
Quotables
March 28, 2014
SCOTT OLSON/Getty Images

Paul Krugman points out that proposals to introduce higher taxes on the rich — like the Buffett rule — have received serious pushback from conservatives:

As inequality has become an increasingly prominent issue in American discourse, there has been furious pushback from the right. Some conservatives argue that focusing on inequality is unwise, that taxing high incomes will cripple economic growth. Some argue that it's unfair, that people should be allowed to keep what they earn. And some argue that it's un-American — that we've always celebrated those who achieve wealth, and that it violates our national tradition to suggest that some people control too large a share of the wealth. [The New York Times]

But, as Krugman rightly points out, high taxes on the rich are hardly un-American. He points to Theodore Roosevelt and Irving Fisher as examples of the fact that "in the early 20th century, many leading Americans warned about the dangers of extreme wealth concentration, and urged that tax policy be used to limit the growth of great fortunes."

In fact, as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century points out, "confiscatory taxation of excessive incomes — that is, taxation whose goal was to reduce income and wealth disparities, rather than to raise money — was an American invention."

This shouldn't really be very surprising. America was founded by a group of men deeply distrustful of monarchies, aristocracies, concentrated wealth, and inherited privilege, and who enacted laws to prevent wealth from concentrating in too few hands.

As Steven Budiansky noted in 2010:

With Thomas Jefferson taking the lead in the Virginia legislature in 1777, every Revolutionary state government abolished the laws of primogeniture and entail that had served to perpetuate the concentration of inherited property. Jefferson cited Adam Smith, the hero of free market capitalists everywhere, as the source of his conviction that (as Smith wrote, and Jefferson closely echoed in his own words), "A power to dispose of estates forever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fullness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural." Smith said: "There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death." [Liberal Curmudgeon] John Aziz

This just in
September 4, 2015
Ty Wright/Getty Images

Jailed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will reportedly appeal her contempt of court ruling and has no plans to resign as Rowan County clerk, her lawyer said Friday. Davis, who was sent to jail Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for defying the Supreme Court's order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, says she has a "clean conscience."

Though a deputy clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Davis' absence Friday, her attorney asserted that the licenses are void because she didn't authorize them. Samantha Rollins

Only in America
September 4, 2015
Facebook.com/Washington State University

Washington State University professors have warned students that using "oppressive and hateful language" such as "male," "female," and "illegal immigrant" will result in bad grades. But administrators promised to ensure that no student will be punished for "using terms that may be deemed offensive to some." The Week Staff

emailgate
September 4, 2015
Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a Friday interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once again refused to apologize for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. "I'm sorry this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions," Clinton said.

While she admitted a personal server "wasn't the best choice," she maintained that she never knowingly broke the law. "This was fully above board, people knew I was using a personal email, I did it for convenience," Clinton said. "I sent emails that I thought were work related to people's dot gov accounts."

Watch the full interview over at NBC News. Becca Stanek

For those who have everything
September 4, 2015
Courtesy Photo

Jellyfish are "hypnotizing to watch," writes BlessThisStuff, so why not let them hypnotize you in your home or office? The Pulse 80 Jellyfish Aquarium ($1300) was designed with the special needs of jellyfish in mind, and it lets a human operator play with lighting effects. A remote control that governs the LED system lets you choose among thousands of colors and set the brightness and timing for flashes or color shifts. The aquarium is handmade from scratch-resistant cast acrylic and features a low-maintenance filtration system and an Italian-made pump designed to be virtually silent while operating. The Week Staff

Only in America
September 4, 2015
iStock

A Georgia school district is investigating the mass baptism of its high school football players just before practice. A video showing the baptism appeared on a Baptist church's website, with the caption: "See how God is STILL in our schools." A spokeswoman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the coach was illegally misusing his authority "to promote his personal religious agenda.'' School district officials said they would "take appropriate steps." The Week Staff

This just in
September 4, 2015
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Martin O'Malley wants the U.S. to accept as many as 13 times the number of Syrian refugees it currently plans to take in. The former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate called Friday for the U.S. to up its plans to accept between 5,000 to 8,000 immigrants to "at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016." O'Malley cited the photos of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up dead on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to sail from Turkey to Greece, for stirring his moral obligation to urge Americans to do more to help some four million Syrian refugees.

"Americans are a generous and compassionate people. But today our policies are falling short of those values," O'Malley said in a statement. "If Germany — a country with one-fourth our population — can accept 800,000 refugees this year, certainly we — the nation of immigrants and refugees — can do more."

As Europe faces an influx of migrants from Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East — a record 107,500 migrants entered the European Union in July alone — O'Malley contends that Americans are "not immune from the injustices and tragedies that unfold outside our borders." So far, according to numbers from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported by Newsweek, only 1,541 Syrian refugees have arrived in the U.S. Becca Stanek

Trump's take
September 4, 2015
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The media is back at it with its "gotcha" questions, according to Donald Trump, and this time they're from conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. In a live radio interview Thursday discussing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, Hewitt prompted Trump to name the leaders of ISIS, Iran's Quds Force, Hezbollah, the al-Nusra Front, and al Qaeda.

Trump's response: He didn't know — yet. "You know, I'll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they'll all be changed. They'll all be gone," Trump said in the interview. The Independent notes that Hezbollah has had the "same Secretary General for the past 23 years."

The interview went further downhill when, after Trump mixed up the Quds Force and the Kurds, Hewitt corrected him. Of course, Trump isn't one to admit defeat, so he took to MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday to lash out at Hewitt and call him a "third-rate radio announcer."

"When you say Kurds vs. Quds, I thought he said 'Kurds,'" Trump said. "And it was like 'got you, got you, got you,' and every question is, 'do I know this one, and that one.' You know he worked hard on that."

Hewitt will be partnering with CNN to moderate the second Republican debate. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads