Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear Warren: Just write the damn check

Warren Buffett says he wants to pay more taxes.

Which raises a logical question in my mind. If he is so gung-ho about giving more money to Uncle Sam, why doesn't he just write a check? Nobody is stopping him.

Apparently, his is really more interested in perpetuating and extending a system of legalized plunder.

What is legalized plunder, you might ask. Well, economist and political philosopher Frederic Bastiat came up with a pretty good definition.

When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it - without his consent and without compensation - and whether by force or by fraud - to anyone who does not own it, then I say the property is violated, that an act of plunder is committed.

So why would Buffett advocate plundering himself? I don't know, but I guarantee you he has something to gain by it, something greater than the potential cost. Billionaires don't become billionaires by being stupid. Political power? Some kind of special treatment? Who knows. But he stands to gain.

Perhaps, you retort, he simply cares about the country. Well my friend, that simply brings us back to my original question. Nobody stops him from writing that check.

Do you even realize how few people Buffett is talking about?  In 2009, only 236,883 tax returns in the U.S. had an adjusted gross income over $1 million. They made, combined, about $726.9 billion. Lets say we increase their tax load by 20 percent. That would represent an additional $145 billion dollars in revenue. The U.S. spends about $10 billion a day, so the extra income raised would run the government for an extra 14 days. Lets get really crazy...lets confiscate ALL of these rich dudes' money. That would be enough to run the government for less than 3 months.

Clearly, this isn't about raising revenue. It's about class warfare. It's about making one group of people feel better. It's about concentrating political power.

The problem in the U.S. is not that it doesn't take in enough revenue. The problem is that it spends too much money. The treasury borrows  40 cents of every dollar it spends.

You want to talk fairness? Lets talk fairness. The top 10 percent of wage earners in the U.S. (AGI over $113,799) paid 69.9 percent of all federal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent paid 2.7 percent of the total tax burden. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 percent paid NO federal income tax.

It's time we stop with the class warfare and set about solving the actual problem. That means shrinking government. That means REAL spending cuts. That means restraining the federal government to its prescribed constitutional role. And it means reforming the tax code to make it truly fair. Where everybody contributes.

And Warren, if you feel you aren't contributing enough, by all means, write the damn check!