Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, says people often forget that “taxes are not chiseled on stone,” and they did not “come down from God.”
“‘Taxes’ are just the name for the price that government charges for their services,” he told Glenn Beck in an interview that aired Thursday. “And when you raise your prices, people buy less of your service, and that includes the government. So they’ve made it really uncompetitive for multinational companies to stay.”
The two were discussing the increasing number of businesses leaving America for lower costs abroad.
“Our corporate tax rates are basically 40 percent, federal and state, and we’re up against people who are taxing at 15 percent,” he said. “It’s just natural — you raise the price of something, people buy less of it.”
President Obama has labeled the companies that leave America’s shores “corporate deserters,” and Jonathan Alter of the Daily Beast has begun to advocate corporate “loyalty oaths.”
“This whole talk, frankly, of economic patriotism scares me,” Byrne said. “I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but it’s nut job talk … The actual intellectual roots of this stuff is in Benito Mussolini.”
Byrne said he cannot believe that the “discourse has taken this turn” and that there aren’t “more people understanding the historical roots of what it is we’re hearing.”
“There’s a great quote from Adam Smith about the ‘man of systems,’ meaning a heavy ideologue,” he reflected. “They seem to imagine society like it’s a great chessboard, and they can just move the pieces around. They forget that, in the case of humans, those pieces have their own internal motivations and they can’t just be shuffled around like pieces on a chessboard.”
Byrne said that anybody who is promoting “economic patriotism” is “taking as their background assumption that it’s our function to serve the government.”
“You have forgotten that you serve us,” he remarked.
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