Is Sanders Hypocritical for Taking Tax Deductions? No. But…

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… it does de-fang a lot of his criticisms of the practices of corporations and economic elites. Before I explain why let me set the stage. Here’s Kevin Drum:

This isn’t even close to hypocrisy. If you don’t like the designated hitter rule in baseball, does that mean you should send your pitcher to the plate just to prove how sincere you are? Of course not. You play by the rules, whatever those rules are.

Lemieux at LGM loves it, but this is a category error. Sanders is not simply saying that he does not like the designated hitter rule. He is saying that anyone who employs a designated hitter is hopelessly corrupt, a crony (or tool of cronies), an active destroyer of the well-being of the 99% and indeed the entire world economy. He has said that people who use the designated hitter should be thrown into jail and have their baseball teams dismantled by diktat. He is suggesting that teams that employ foreign designated hitters are practically enemies of the state. He has argued that anyone who has given a paid speech to a group that supports use of the designated hitter is not qualified to play baseball.

Given all of that, it is absolutely legitimate to criticize Sanders for using a designated hitter.

I had a similar reaction when Krugman left a cushy job at Princeton for an unbelievably cushy appointment at CUNY’s income inequality program: $225,000 per year for, as best as I can tell, showing up to fundraising dinners. Whatever else is required he does not have to teach, do research, or mentor students. Which gives him plenty of free time to put into his other cushy job as a pundit, which he mostly uses to ridicule the wealthy elite. (He does not use it to, say, provide free economics education to poor families or otherwise benefit humanity.)

Would I take the jobs these guys have? Sure. Would I take these tax deductions? I do take some of them. But I don’t accuse everyone else who “plays by the rules, whatever those rules are” of being leeches on society or even worse. And both Sanders and Krugman are far wealthier than I, and have far higher salaries too.

So no, it’s not quite hypocrisy. But it is absolutely fair to hold Sanders to his own standard.

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