Notes from the Editors, March 2003


  • - The Editors



Political Economy, Inequality


» Notes from the Editors

In the 1920s Andrew Mellon, who served as secretary of the treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (it was sometimes said that they served under him), introduced a series of gargantuan tax cuts culminating in what was known as the Mellon Plan. This consisted of a huge cut in the income tax rates of the rich along with reductions in other taxes paid by the wealthy. High income tax rates, Mellon claimed, tend to destroy individual initiative and enterprise and seriously impede the development of productive enterprise. When Mellon’s foes, such as the great Progressive Senator Robert La Follette, declared that Mellon was trying to let wealth escape its fair share of taxation, he sought to turn the tables on them by charging that they were engaging in class warfare. The man who seeks to perpetuate prejudice and class hatred, the treasury secretary stated, is doing America an ill service. In attempting to promote or defeat legislation by arraying one class of taxpayers against another, he shows a complete misconception of the principles of equality on which the country was founded

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Notes from the Editors