I had to read this New Republic piece by Paradox of Choice author Barry Schwartz twice to make sure I had it right, but he appears to be sincerely advancing an argument of the following form: Too many choices sometimes make people unhappy—we get so overloaded with the number of varieties of mustard at the supermarket that we end up just not getting any, even though we would've liked some. So economic redistribution isn't just good for the poor, he argues, but for the rich as well, since it spares them the burden of all those choices. (Or, as Radley Balko might put it, frees them from the Tyranny of Mustard.) Says Schwartz:
[W]e don't really know the point at which increased choice ceases to be beneficial. (Is it at $75,000 of income? $100,000? $150,000? Is it at ten flavors of jam? 50? 100?).... The point is simply that we now know there is some significant subset of people likely to be made better off through heavier taxation, and that these people reside at the top end of the wealth distribution. Given that a concern for people's welfare has traditionally been one of the chief moral objections to taxing wealth (at least among those sympathetic to redistribution in principle), a policy of heavier taxation for the very wealthy may be the only moral course of action.
I'm hoping this is silly enough on face to make a response otiose, but two fairly obvious points: First, that choice has expanded dramatically over the course of the last generation, and it seems a little early to presume that people won't or can't develop new decision mechanisms to adapt to "option paralysis." Second, it seems pretty likely that the people who choose to devote themselves to high paying occupations—as opposed to less remunerative but more interesting ones like, say, writing—are precisely those for whom more material choices are most subjectively valuable.
Only tangentially related, I did a double take at this claim:
Because the government has a responsibility to ensure that every citizen enjoys a basic level of welfare, it should lower the wealth of some in order to expand the wealth, and therefore the welfare, of others. That, at least, has been the consensus among political philosophers (and the college freshman who take their courses) for the last several hundred years.
That consensus, I imagine, would come as something of a shock to not only readers of classical liberal theorists and modern thinkers like Robert Nozick or David Gauthier, but also to the many egalitarian theorists who advocate equal opportunity or access to resources while explicitly rejecting guarantees of "welfare," a subjective quantity which some deny is even meaningful. (Thomas Scanlon, for instance, favors redistribution, but has a thoughtful critique of the idea of overall "well being" as a desideratum.)