By Daniel Badger, Jr
Published: November 17, 2012.
This essay examines the roles of luck and hard work in determining lifetime earnings, and summarizes research showing that at least half of what we earn is explained by the "birth accidents" of gender, genes and parents. The implication for tax policy is that a sharply progressive income tax--a "Fortune Tax"--passes the tests for both fairness and efficiency. (18,000 words, 18 charts)