Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Naked Emperors — Honorary Member: Warren Buffett

I've finished the series, and he is not in government, but I couldn't let pass some comments by Warren Buffett that make him an honorary member of the Naked Emperors club.

In a recent Investor's Business Daily editorial, Buffett is quoted as saying:
"The market isn't so good at making sure that the wealth that's produced is being distributed fairly or wisely," Buffett told Obama. "Those of us who've benefited most from the market should pay a bigger share."
Buffett is no doubt a genius at investing. No one makes $50 billion by luck and he didn't suck at the government teat to do it. But as a moral philosopher, he's an idiot. Who the hell is he to decide for others where they ought to spend their money? Worse, who is he to decide it's ok for the Feds to take it?

If Buffett feels compelled to give half his wealth to Bill Gates's wife so she can feel noble by providing diseased Africans with medicine to keep them alive three months longer, that's his right. He has no right to ask Congress to compel the rest of us to go along.

Not to mention, as is usual with so-called liberals, he's even wrong on the facts. The top 5% of income earners already pay over 60% of the income taxes in this country*.

Lest anyone think that's because they make such a huge amount of money, note that the ranking starts at about $153,000 annual income. I wouldn't mind having that income, but I've got news for the 'soak the rich' faux liberals. Anyone who lives in a major urban area and makes $153,000 a year ain't exactly livin' large, especially if that's combined family income. Even where I live (rural Northern Idaho), it wouldn't enable you to buy a house around the lake.

Since income taxes should be abolished anyway, though, let me not rely on any sort of "they pay their fair share" argument.

If they paid none at all, that would be the situation of greatest practical advantage to me and everyone else. Even as a purely practical matter, the less that's coercively taken from the wealthy by the government the more there is to invest in wealth-creating enterprises.

However, that is all morally irrelevant. Despite Buffett's snickering comment to the contrary it is their money. Note, I did say above "income earners." If they earned it, they have a right to dispose of it as they please. Otherwise, it is mere pretense to called it theirs. Justice requires that those who earned their income be left free to do with it what they choose, and justice consists of granting what is deserved.

That's the trouble with fellows who think like Buffett and his friends, though. They never think rich people deserve their money because they don't believe they earned their money. There is always the suggestion, now breaking out virulently into the open in the current election campaigns, that the money was obtained illegitimately.

Well, in this country, a person is (at least in theory) innocent until proven guilty. So far, the only individuals of whom we have evidence that fraud has taken place are certain Congressmen like Frank and Dodd and their benefactors at Freddie and Fannie, et al, who decided to cook the books. If someone has specific charges about a specific private citizen, he's welcome to bring them to the attention of the authorities.

Still, if Buffett wants to give more of his money to the government, he's free to do so. They do accept voluntary contributions. If instead he prefers to piss it down onto the rat-infested huts of Africa, that's his privilege. Far be if from me to attempt to dictate to Warren Buffett where he has to spend his money. I not-so-politely demand he allow me the same choice. Schmuck.

(*An amount, I note, over $600 billion dollars in 2006 alone. I also note that the total for that year was over a trillion dollars. If Buffett wants to wag his finger at someone, let it be the spendthrifts in Congress who, with the country over $10 trillion in debt, want still more.)

1 comment:

VH said...

Buffet is noted for saying that he is taxed less than his secretary and liberals get their cockles warmed because he is in a sense legitimizing their economic philosophy. But what is never told is that he is taxed on his investments not on income like his secretary. So, basically he fore go's paying himself income and therefore uses the tax code to his advantage while publicly stating that income earners above a certain tax bracket should pay more. Frustrating.