Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buffett: Tax me! Tax me!

This commentary also appeared in the Bargain Hunter's Tuscarawas County edition.

Americans’ anti-tax fervor apparently has limits.
Last Monday, Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest person with a net worth of about $50 billion,authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times. He said the government should stop coddling the super-rich and increase the tax rate on their earnings, including his.

Buffett said he pays 17.4 percent in taxes on his salary, while others in his office average 36 percent. It’s not fair, he said.

MSNBC conducted a poll in the aftermath of Buffet’s piece, and the results were somewhat surprising, at least to me.

In a little more than an hour, MSNBC reported, 20,000 people weighed in on the question of whether the super-rich should be taxed more. Ninety-five percent said they should.

One political party in particular is staunchly against increasing anyone’s taxes, including the super-rich (apparently), arguing that the government shouldn’t increase anyone’s taxes in a recession. I guess there’s some truth in that argument.

If the super-rich have to pay more taxes, does that mean they put off super-rich-type purchases of such things like private jets and yachts? Who do you think makes private jets and yachts?

Well, members of the middle class assemble and build jets and yachts. See how this tax thing works?

But no matter – members of the middle class always seem to get the shaft no matter what Congress or, for that matter, rich people, do or don’t do. (Remember George H.W. Bush’s tax on super yachts? The rich quit buying them, throwing middle class people out of work.)

Buffett doesn’t need to pay more taxes. He needs to buy more stuff. I think that’s called Keynesian economics.


My colleague, Kyle Kondik, who escaped the daily newspaper business in the nick of time, now does analysis for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

In his latest offering, he recalls George Will’s prediction of just a few months ago:

“I think we know with reasonable certainty that standing up there on the west front of the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2013, will be one of three people: (Barack) Obama, (Tim) Pawlenty and (Mitch) Daniels. I think that’s it.”

Will made that prediction on ABC’s “This Week” program on May 15. Three months later, we can say for near certainty that Will’s prediction is at least two-thirds wrong.

During the height of the last presidential campaign, yours truly predicted Democrat Hillary Clinton would face off against Republican Rudy Giuliani in the November presidential election. You think pundits would learn their lesson and just shy away from early presidential predictions.
Kondik seems to have learned well. But has he really? He ends his analysis of the recent Iowa goings-on with this:
“So as tempting as it is to say that, come Jan. 20, 2013, one of three men – Obama, (Mitt) Romney or (Rick) Perry – will be sworn in at the western front of the Capitol, it might be wise to hold off on that prediction just yet.”
Looks like a prediction, smells like a prediction…
If you read my commentary last week at tuscbargainhunter.com or gpubs.com, you would have been treated to a friendly follow-up exchange between me and former Times-Reporter publisher Jim Shrader. I enjoy such “debates” as long as I know the other party.

So much of the online (and telephone call-in) debate these days is nasty and mean-spirited. Teachers and schools seem to be an easy mark. (“What part of ‘no’ doesn’t the school board understand!” is a familiar refrain.)

One community leader said she believed people would be hard-pressed to move to our community if their only exposure was the online vitriol that seems to have overtaken the actual news report and thoughtful opinion.

Fortunately, the Bargain Hunter’s website appears to be free of such hatefulness and negativity. If you’re looking for a kinder, gentler forum, check it out.

Dick Farrell is a contributor to the Bargain Hunter. You can access this column at www.gpubs.com. You can read his blog at http://dickfarrell.blogspot.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter (dfarrell_dover).

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