Tax the rich. Those bastards.
I get why people who aren’t rich hate those that are. No one really cares what they have, they only care what they have relative to others. When there is inequality, and there always is, even the hyper intelligent call for a redistribution of wealth. It’s an enduring longing for us as a species, and no evidence to the contrary will convince people it just doesn’t work in any large group.
What I really didn’t understand until recently though is why so many rich Americans seem to loathe their richness as much as everyone else does. Many in Silicon Valley want to tax the rich into the middle class and let government spend and spend and spend. The super rich tech elite flock to Obama, joining in the call to screw the rich as loudly as all the rest.
Then I figured it out. As I wrote then, the super rich won’t mind at all if we “tax the rich” as it’s currently defined. That’s because people who are super rich don’t really pay taxes. They pay taxes on this year’s income, and capital gains on accumulated wealth. But the only “tax” that can ever touch what they’ve already made is inflation.
That’s why a man worth $47 billion dollars can pay just $6,938,744 in federal income taxes and not be accused of a crime. In fact, he can boast about how little he pays, and ask to be charged even more.
That man is Warren Buffett. And his article in today’s NY Times, titled “Stop Coddling The Super Rich” is a huge pile of manipulative garbage.
The super rich love to talk about higher taxes on the rich because it’s a competitive barrier protecting them from competition. If the people making a lot of money today have to pay much higher taxes, they probably won’t ever accumulate enough wealth to be “super rich.”
Now if you really want to screw the rich, start talking about a wealth tax. It won’t save the economy but it’ll certainly serve to even everything out. Buffett wants a higher tax rate on himself and anyone making $1 million or more per year. If you doubled the tax rate on these people, someone making $1 million a year would lose another $380,000 to the government.
Buffett calls for an increase in all types of taxes – income, dividend and capital gains. That would be a nice triple layer of protection against any newcomers, and still preserve all – 100% – of the $47 billion he’s accumulated until now.
Buffett is just fine with big new taxes on the rich because those taxes never touch all the under-taxed wealth he’s accumulated over the decades. He talks about how he’s benefited for decades by being under taxed, but is only willing to pay more in the future. That’s like a steroids-ridden baseball player declaring that steroids are bad and from now on no one gets to take them. But paying for past sins? Shhh.
I say if Buffett wants higher taxes, Buffett should get higher taxes. Take 50% of his wealth immediately. And everyone else who’s super rich. Hell, take 100% of everyone’s wealth over $1 million. That’ll even the playing field. We’ll do it again in ten years. Some sneaky people will figure out a way to cheat the system and accumulate more wealth than everyone else, but we’ll knock ’em back down to earth again.
Think that’s crazy? In the late 90s Donald Trump proposed a one time 14.25% tax on the net worth of individuals and trusts worth $10 million or more. The goal? To pay down the national debt, and shore up Social Security.
Wealth taxes aren’t new, they’re just new here in the U.S. So the next time some super rich person stands up and says they must pay more taxes, ask them how serious they are. And then ask them how they’d feel about a wealth tax every year.
Rich people are very good at staying rich. And Warren Buffett is the smartest rich person I know. That’s why he’s able to say feel good bullshit about how he should be paying higher taxes when he has absolutely no intention of letting the government anywhere near his real money.
As for me, I think the government should be starved of income and be forced to spend money where it’s supposed to – defending the border, establishing a trusted currency, and protecting property rights. Whenever they muck around with the other stuff everyone gets poorer. We need to let people dream of getting disgustingly rich, and then let them go out there and do it. After that, we celebrate them so that more people get the idea of getting rich, too. It’s what makes Silicon Valley work. And everyone benefits, even the people who don’t end up rich.
ps – If you like the image above, buy the tshirt here. Although really, they’re charging way too much. They’re probably getting filthy rich selling those tshirts, the bastards.