Senator Warren proposes to pay for all this with an annual tax on the savings of certain Americans — only the wealthy ones, we are assured — a new tax that it is not even clear Congress has the constitutional power to enact and whose effects will be unpredictable and likely destructive. Such wealth taxes used to be common in Europe, but all except three have been abandoned for the most obvious reasons: They do not produce the kind of revenue they promise, they are difficult to administer (what’s Jeff Bezos’s net worth right now? What will it be in 15 minutes?), and they encourage capital flight, as France’s many millionaire expatriates can attest.
That’s a high price to pay for . . . what, exactly? We are familiar with all the fine rhetoric about higher education being the key to preparing the 21st-century work force and maximizing its productivity, but we cannot help but notice that this is being championed by the same people who have helped to make our K–12 education system the grotesque laughing stock that it is. The public schools are in effect a dysfunctional and wildly corrupt full-employment program for Democratic constituencies, and that same dynamic has driven much of the growth in college administration, too: There are a lot of deputy deans of social justice out there. We don’t need one more, much less 10,000 more.