I went to a brown bag talk at the Naval Postgraduate School yesterday and the topic was ChatGPT. The speaker, Rodrigo Nieto, gave a great energetic talk and it was fun to watch the interaction between him and one of the members of the audience who had used ChatGPT a lot.
I had signed up with ChatGPT last month but hadn’t done much with it. So I spent a big part of the afternoon playing with it. For example, I gave it prompts to explain the harm caused by high marginal taxes, in the style of Ogden Nash, Edgar Allan Poe, and the King James Bible.
Here’s the King James Bible version:
And it came to pass that the people did cry out against the high marginal tax rates, which did burden them greatly. For the tax rates were so high that the people did lose their incentive to work and to create wealth. And the economy did suffer greatly, for the people had not the means to invest and to grow.
And the government did take a great portion of the people’s earnings, leaving them with little to sustain themselves and their families. And the rich did find ways to evade the tax, leaving the burden on the shoulders of the poor and the middle class.
And the Lord did speak, saying: “Thou shalt not burden thy people with high taxes, for they shall lose their incentive to work and to create wealth. And the economy shall suffer greatly, for there shall be no means to invest and to grow.
“And thou shalt not take a great portion of the people’s earnings, for they shall have little to sustain themselves and their families. And thou shalt not let the rich evade the tax, but shall ensure that all do bear their fair share.
“And thou shalt lower the tax rates, that the people may have the means to work and to create wealth. And the economy shall flourish, and the people shall prosper.”
And the people did listen to the Lord, and they did lower the tax rates. And the economy did flourish, and the people did prosper. And there was joy and peace in the land.
The one part that was off was this:
And the rich did find ways to evade the tax, leaving the burden on the shoulders of the poor and the middle class.
If you know anything about the progressive tax system, you know that “the rich,” which pretty much everyone understands to mean “high-income people,” bear a huge burden from high marginal tax rates. The burden is in the form of both taxes paid and deadweight loss.
Interestingly and disappointingly, but understandably, both the Ogden Nash and the Edgar Allan Poe poems had a similar thought: the idea that rich people successfully avoid taxes is widespread.