Watched Bill Gates being interviewed on “Morning Joe.”   The topic was a new report from Oxfam, the UK charity, showing that the richest 85 people in the world have total wealth equivalent to that of the lower half of the world’s total population or 3.5 billion people.  And of course Gates is in that group of 85.

Gates did not contest the numbers but also did not offer any defense.  He simply stated that there is a vast range in incomes and individual wealth.  He went on to talk about how he is devoting most of his wealth to projects to assist the less fortunate.

Gates was then asked for his views  on raising the minimum wage and the high unemployment rate.  He responded that varying minimum wage rates in different states leads to relocation of businesses.  On unemployment Gates mentioned, as have several others recently, that the problem seems to be mainly the result of rapidly increasing productivity, thanks to his own company and the IT industry, and to globalization, i.e. jobs go to lower wage countries.

Income and wealth disparity promise to be big issues in this election year.   There will be many more calls to reduce this through higher taxes on the rich via a simpler tax code and forcing Americans and American companies to repatriate their off shore funds.

I have written several times about the reality of repatriating funds - not really possible.   But I am sure that we will see many proposals for rewriting our tax codes to make them more equitable.

The last time the Federal Tax Code was extensively rewritten was in 1986.  A principal change was to disallow deduction of interest paid on loans except for on a home mortgage. I am betting on eliminating that exception, i.e. no  deduction of interest paid on mortgages.  There is no reason to differentiate a home loan and other loans.

But what I see as this move to make the tax code more fair will be seen by others as taking away their God given right.  And so it will go, with all arguing for their own particular tax dodge.   A general rule of taxation is one man’s gain is another man’s loss.  In the mortgage interest deduction case this is a gain for home owners at the expense of those who rent their homes.

Hard to predict the outcome but there will be firm demands for changes in the tax code to make incomes and wealth more equitable.