Should We Tax the Rich More?
Written by George Papandreou
Series Title: The Munk Debates
- POLITICAL SCIENCE / Social Services & Welfare
- POLITICAL SCIENCE / Economic Conditions
- POLITICAL SCIENCE / Economic Policy
- POLITICAL SCIENCE
Publication Date November 02, 2013
As middle-class incomes stagnate in advanced economies while the rich experience record income gains, the eleventh semi-annual Munk Debate pits wealth redistribution supporters Paul Krugman and George Papandreou against Newt Gingrich and Arthur Laffer to debate taxation — should the rich pay more?
For some the answer is obvious: redistribute the wealth of the top income earners who have enjoyed, for almost a generation, the lion’s share of all income gains. Imposing higher taxes on the wealthy is the best way for countries such as Canada to reinvest in their social safety nets, education, and infrastructure while protecting the middle class. Others argue that anemic economic growth, not income inequality, is the real problem facing advanced countries. In a globalized economy, raising taxes on society’s wealth creators leads to capital flight, falling government revenues, and less money for the poor. These same voices contend that lowering taxes on everyone stimulates innovation and investment, fuelling future prosperity.
In this edition of the Munk Debates — Canada’s premier international debate series — Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman and former Prime Minster of Greece George Papandreou square off against former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and famed economist Arthur Laffer to debate if the rich should bear the brunt of higher taxes.
For the first time ever, this stimulating debate, which will take place in front of a sold-out audience, will be available in print. With advanced countries facing overextended social services, crumbling infrastructure, and sluggish economic growth, the Munk Debate on economic inequality tackles the essential public policy issue: Should we tax the rich more?
George Papandreou was the prime minister of Greece from 2009 to 2011. He is the current president of the Socialist International. He was named one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” in 2010 for “making the best of Greece’s worst year.” Papandreou also held the portfolio of foreign minister from 1999 to 2004. He was a key player in the negotiations that led to Turkey’s candidacy for membership in the European Union in 1999 and Cyprus’s entry into the EU in 2004. He also held other government posts, including under-secretary for cultural affairs and minister for education. Following his grandfather Georgios Papandreou and his father Andreas Papandreou, he was the third member of the Papandreou family to serve as the country’s prime minister.
Newt Gingrich is the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a New York Times bestselling author, and Time magazine’s 1995 Man of the Year. Called “the indispensable leader” by the Washington Times, he was the architect of the Contract with America, which led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House for the first time in forty years. Under his leadership, Congress passed welfare reform, the first balanced budget in a generation, and the first tax cut in sixteen years.
As an author, Gingrich has published twenty-three books, including thirteen fiction and non-fiction New York Times bestsellers. Nonfiction books include his latest, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters, as well as To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine. Gingrich is also chair of the Gingrich Group, a communications and consulting firm that specializes in transformational change, with offices in Atlanta and Washington, DC. In addition, he serves as a member of the Defense Policy Board and is on the Terrorism Task Force for the Council on Foreign Relations. He founded and chaired several policy think tanks, including American Solutions for Winning the Future and the Center for Health Transformation.
Arthur Laffer is known as the “father” of supply-side economics. He was economic adviser to Ronald Reagan for both of his terms (1981–1989), a member of the Reagan-Bush Finance Committee, and adviser to Margaret Thatcher on fiscal policy. One of his earliest successes in shaping public policy was his involvement in Proposition 13, the groundbreaking California initiative that drastically cut property taxes in the state in 1978.
A co-author of The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy — If We Let It Happen, Dr. Laffer was listed by Time magazine as one of “The Century’s Greatest Minds” for inventing the Laffer Curve, a representation of the relationship between possible rates of taxation and the resulting levels of government revenue. The Los Angeles Times named him among “A Dozen Who Shaped the ’80s,” and he was featured in “A Gallery of the Greatest People Who Influenced Our Daily Business,” in the Wall Street Journal.
He has also been a professor at Pepperdine University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Chicago. He is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an institutional economic research and consulting firm that focuses on the interconnecting macroeconomic, political, and demographic changes affecting global financial markets.
Paul Krugman is an American economist and renowned columnist for the New York Times. He won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics for his groundbreaking work on international trade and economic geography. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Krugman’s work in economics has earned him broad acclaim from the economic press and several prestigious awards, including the John Bates Clark medal for his work on international trade and the 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for commentary. Foreign Policy named Krugman one of its 2012 Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers. He has published over 200 scholarly articles and 20 books, including the most recent call to action End This Depression Now! Professor Krugman also teaches economics and international affairs at Princeton, and is Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics.