My mother flew from San Francisco to Seattle today, and was annoyed to be kept sitting on the runway for two hours while President Obama flew into town. “How rude,” she said. Obama probably shouldn’t count on her vote when he’s up for reelection.
But I’m guessing the trip was worth it anyway. Besides pissing off my mother, he entertained the rapturous digerati at a Facebook town hall meeting today. Afterwards, though, it was back to the business of raising money.
And the tech elite did not disappoint.
Seventy or so CEO and finance types congregated at the San Francisco home of Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, paying $35,000 each for a steak dinner with the president, plus a photo opp. Yes, I did the math, too. That’s $2.5 million. Not bad for a day’s work, even when you factor in disappointing my mom. It probably almost made a dent in the government’s security and other expenses in sending him out here.
Among the techy attendees: Drew Houston (Dropbox), Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp), Marissa Mayer, Craig Newmark, Jonathan Kaplan (presumably still lamenting the end of Flip), Ron Conway, Frank Quattrone and others. Will.i.am was also there, as was Stevie Wonder (who sang for the president).
What’s fascinating to me is how eagerly all these fabulously wealthy men and women look forward to another term for Obama. He’s going to tax these people until they cry, and then tax them some more.
And then I realize, these people aren’t really getting taxed. That’s because they’ve already made their money, and it sits safe and untaxed in whatever investments they’ve chosen. That’s because there’s no wealth tax in the U.S. like some European countries have implemented. All that gets taxed is the income and the capital gain. The big wealth sits untouched.
I wonder how eager they’d all be if Obama suggested a tax on accumulated wealth. Say 1% to start things off. And like any progressive tax, the people in that room would pay far more. Maybe 5% for a billionaire. That’s just $50 million a year. And they can more than afford it, right? Enough with Silicon Valley coasting along, riding on the backs of those hard working people in Washington. It’s time to pay up, Silicon Valley. Our leaders just said so.