My last post on this topic got some action, so let’s see how this one does ;). Tom Brokaw has come back from a visit with the 3rd Richest Man in the World: Warren Buffet. He was on Morning Joe this morning and what he had to say was truly astounding.

Buffet has done an informal survey of his employees and found out some shocking (at least to me) news. 15 of his 18 employees allowed him to look through their tax returns and he found that HE paid an aggregated 17% of his income while THEY paid a median of 32% of theirs. This makes his overall tax rate HALF of what his admin staff pays.

Buffet does not have an accountant do his taxes and does not have fancy tax shelters. He literally pays (on principle) exactly what congress tells him to pay. This inequity has prompted him to take action and begin speaking out for a revision of the tax code with some kind of progressive consumption tax.

Somehow some voters (and commenters of this Blog) have been brainwashed into thinking that we can’t touch the tax code to raise taxes on the richest Americans and lower taxes on the middle class because that would be some kind of “wealth transfer”. One reader actually asked last week, how are the middle class entitled to rich people’s money?

Obviously this isn’t the case. There is wealth transfer occurring, and it’s from the working class people to the rich – not the other way around. If Buffet can see that, maybe it’s time for the rest of us to open our eyes as well.

Brokaw on Buffet

3 thoughts on “Brokaw on Buffet

  • E,

    The difference between your reaction and mine is that I don’t begrudge Buffett of his money. I think the atrocity is that anyone pays 32% to the government.

    Milton Friedman once said that optimal economic growth would occur with a 19% flat tax. I figure that is twice the amount the Church asks for, which is plenty in my opinion. One way to reduce the burden on Buffett’s staff is to reduce the payroll tax. One way to do that is to privatize social security, an idea which you seem to find preposterous. Even Howard Dean floated the idea of raising the retirement age, which received bad press to say the least. Nevertheless, it would reduce the inequality of tax burden you find so astounding. Why not ask the staff to pay less taxes?

  • It would be nice to know what kind of policy Buffett is advocating. He is notoriously modest consumer so if the policy is aimed toward tangible goods he’d pay far less in taxes with a consumption tax. Woody Jenkins (GOP)once advocated for this while running for Louisiana Senate. If by consumption Buffett means the acquisition of property, I’d like to know if the appreciation of said property (i.e. the stocks he owns) should be taxed as well. My guess is he isn’t advocating for taxing the growth, just the acquisition. I’d have to see the details but Buffett and I may see eye to eye here. I still hate the death tax.

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