Paul Graham - “How can you dismiss socialism so casually” - Fortune

Paul Graham - “How can you dismiss socialism so casually”

I've thought a lot about this, actually; it was not a casual remark. I think the fundamental question is not whether the government pays for schools or medicine, but whether you allow people to get rich.

In England in the 1970s, the top income tax rate was 98%. That’s what the Beatles' song “Tax Man” is referring to when they say “one for you, nineteen for me.”

Any country that makes this choice ends up losing net, because new technology tends to be developed by people trying to make their fortunes. It’s too much work for anyone to do for ordinary wages. Smart people might work on sexy projects like fighter planes and space rockets for ordinary wages, but semiconductors or light bulbs or the plumbing of e-commerce probably have to be developed by entrepreneurs. Life in the Soviet Union would have been even poorer if they hadn’t had American technologies to copy.

Finland is sometimes given as an example of a prosperous socialist country, but apparently the combined top tax rate is 55%, only 5% higher than in California. So if they seem that much more socialist than the US, it is probably simply because they don't spend so much on their military.

Author Paul Graham
Work “Re: What You Can’t Say