Corporate jets are the new buggaboo of class warfare rhetoric. We are told, with the proper frothing-at-the-mouth indignation that only the politically correct can muster, that owners of corporate jets should not enjoy tax benefits for that capital asset. For that matter, whether owners of corporate jets should even be allowed to enjoy breathing seems open to question.
What everyone seems to forget in their righteous fury is that we have been here before. In 1993, President Clinton used similar rhetoric to trash owners of luxury yachts, imposing a substantial surtax on their purchase. The idea was exactly the same as now: people who buy these things are rich and don’t “deserve” tax breaks.
Then, as now, moral preening trumped practical realities. The surtax on yachts failed to produce new revenue. What it did do is extinguish the yacht-building and -maintaining industries, as wealthy yacht owners simply decided it wasn’t worth it or else moved their yachting activities to other countries. The cost of thoughtless class warfare game-playing was thousands of jobs.
Railing against corporate jets threatens the same mistakes. Whether or not we “like” the “rich people” who ride on corporate jets (and presumably Al Gore and other rich people who just happen to also lean leftward politically are exempted from the hatred of corporate jet owners), the fact is that the manufacture and maintenance of corporate jets provides thousands of jobs. At a time when unemployment is stubbornly high, is it really worth it to wipe out those jobs just to stick it to “rich people”?
I really wonder whether some progressives’ economic priorities have anything to do with actually improving the economy or whether it is just about trying hating “rich people” regardless of the actual costs to real workers.