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by Burt Prelutsky
I wouldn’t want anyone to think I don’t like Warren Buffet because he’s rich. For one thing, I don’t engage in class envy or any other kind. Maybe if I found out he could play the piano or do impressions of movie actors or even juggle, I might be slightly green. But the unvarnished truth is that I don’t envy people like Buffet and Bill Gates their fortunes. I admit I’d like to be wealthier than I am because I don’t like having to think about money at all. But once you get to be as rich as guys like that, I don’t know how you have time to think about anything else.
When you have 30 or 40 billion dollars, I would imagine that just keeping track of it would keep you pretty busy. I bet billionaires spend countless hours meeting with boring guys in suits who cart around attaché cases and are named Roger or Malcolm, talking about what to do with all that loot. I bet it keeps them busier than a Jack Russell herding sheep.
I also wager they spend a great deal of time worrying about people stealing their money. I mean it. How would they even know? It’s not like they can keep it stuffed in their mattress.
Perhaps it’s all that worrying that explains why Buffet says so many really foolish things. But even his stupidity wouldn’t be so unbearable if he didn’t insist on compounding it with his hypocrisy.
For instance, in 2006, he complained that he only paid his income taxes at a rate of 19%, whereas his secretary paid at a rate of 33%. “How can this be right?” he huffed.
Well, the answer is pretty simple. He paid at a lower rate because his money came to him in the form of capital gains and dividends, whereas hers was strictly salary.
The better question he should have asked is why did he have to pay at such a high rate, considering he had already been taxed on the money that he then invested in stocks and bonds, thus helping to grease the gears of a capitalistic economy, allowing businesses to expand and hire more workers. Talk about no good deed going unpunished!
What’s more, when Mr. Buffet finally moves on to the big boardroom in the sky, the feds will scoop off even more of his money in the form of death or estate taxes.
In 2008, his worth was estimated to be $62 billion -- that’s billion with a “b” -- but, through the Bill Gates Foundation, he has since given away about $25 billion to various charities.
What I don’t understand is, one, why he is so anxious for the feds to take an even bigger bite out of his pile; and, two, why, if he is so offended by the low tax rate for rich people, he doesn’t simply write a bigger check on April 15th.
Even back in 2006, when he began bitching about his 19% tax rate, he only sent the IRS $48 million. What stopped him from sending them $96 million? There’s no law that says that just because the rate is 19%, you can’t pay 38% or 76%. Heck, he had $62 billion stashed away. Would he really have missed $30 or $40 billion?
Wouldn’t it have been a lot manlier of old Warren to just write a check that ended in nine zeroes than to gripe about what other people were paying? If I remember correctly, even his pal, Obama, only paid at a 20% rate last year. But at least he didn’t go around whining that he and Michelle weren’t paying enough.
But maybe Warren just isn’t the sort of guy who wants all the attention that would go with writing a $10 billion check. Still, what’s to stop him from paying lots of other people’s taxes? His secretary’s, for instance?
I’ll tell you what really isn’t fair. It’s not fair that although he claims he wants to send more money to Washington, he doesn’t; whereas I, who don’t want to send the schmucks a plugged nickel, can’t get away with shortchanging the IRS without risking a lengthy spell in Leavenworth.
Not content with having helped finance Obama’s re-election, Buffet has spoken out in favor of Obama’s desire to raise the tax rate on capital gains to something like 45%. He insists with a straight face it would do nothing to curtail investment. Oh, sure, just like the financial cliff and ObamaCare haven’t done anything to curtail investment. I knew that Buffet had a head filled with rocks, but does he also live under one?
Why on earth, and especially in this economy, would anyone take the risk of investing in the stock market if 45% of his potential profit would wind up in the hands of Washington bureaucrats?
The question often put to opinionated people of moderate means is: If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?
The appropriate question where a goofus like Buffet is concerned is: If you’re so rich, why aren’t you smart?