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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 11/23/2010

Eating light

By Tom Toles

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Class warrior
Why does Warren Buffett hate himself so? Buffett (disclosure: a director of the The Washington Post Company) thinks he and other rich people should pay MORE in taxes. "We've had it better than we've ever had it." What is the MATTER with him? Americans WANT him to have it better than ever, because the rest of us have decided that we should suffer so he can be richer. Why won't he accept our gratitude? He is ungrateful, and THIS is how he shows his thanks!

In fact, the rest of us have never had it so good, either. Unemployment rate around nine percent, stagnant wages and longer and longer hours for those of us who ARE working, skyrocketing health costs, and an uncertain future for our children. But what makes this tolerable, indeed PLEASURABLE, is knowing that the rich, at least, will never have to feel the sting of any of this. Now he wants to take that away.

This is CLASS WARFARE that he is engaged in here, make no mistake, and against his OWN CLASS at that. This is the kind of questionable loyalty that infects the land, and I say it's time he produce his American BIRTH CERTIFICATE, if he in fact HAS ONE. --Tom Toles
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By Tom Toles  | November 23, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy and jobs  
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Comments

The VAT is another example of the clash of ideology with reality and reality, once again, demonstrates its clearly Liberal bias.
Posted by: jonroesler

My Reply...
The so called conservatives are not conservative other than not wanting change. They do not want change even though the current system of economics is a failure and will destroy our nation. The fact of the matter is the objective of the terrorists and the greedy sociopathic conservatives if allowed to happen will cause just that.
Dave

Posted by: OchamsRazor | November 27, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Because Stewardship is what a truly free market is about, right?

Posted by: jonroesler
How about taxing ONLY property, including saved wealth?

Now jonroesler, if that wasn't such a painful topic with me I would be laughing!

What one IS forced to do to keep their property tax down (and I'm not talking houses here) is absurd. But that is a different topic.....

Posted by: bertzel | November 23, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's an alternative tax idea: How about taxing ONLY property, including saved wealth?

Think about it... Those who are good stewards of the property/wealth they control will continue to do well, while those who squander their wealth or make stupid decisions will lose what they have (a genuine free market). Those who have no property but work hard will eventually gain wealth and property that they themselves can make work for them, and those who are uninterested in owning property will never be forced to do so and can continue to live as they choose.

Because Stewardship is what a truly free market is about, right?

Posted by: jonroesler | November 23, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yes, the Value Added Tax is a wonderful idea... Eliminate the IRS, and put a 31% sales tax on top of everything we buy.

Doesn't eliminate Social Security, but those of us who make less than about $106,000 per year pay 15% towards that already.

Combining the VAT and SS and Medicare, let's see... a person who currently spends everything he/she earns and can't afford to save anything will effectively pay 46% of their income just in federal taxes, and that doesn't include state and local taxes, gas taxes, etc.
Whereas the person who can afford to save will pay ZERO on the amount invested or saved.

Marvelous idea, if you love redistributing wealth upward at an even faster rate than we're doing it now.

The VAT is another example of the clash of ideology with reality and reality, once again, demonstrates its clearly Liberal bias.

Posted by: jonroesler | November 23, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that my ironic comment regarding the taxation of Buffett and Gates was not received in the way I hoped it would be. Buffett and Gates are both against the removal of inheritance taxation. The irony intended included that fact, plus the fact that they do more good with their support of causes of the poor of the world than our congress does in funding endless wars, subsidies to corporations, farming conglomerates, etc.. I am now nearly 83 years old and it seems that half my life has been spent in observing our involvement in wars. The last war that was warranted and ended successfully was WWII---at the end of which I was drafted into the army. Get a brain and try to understand satire/irony.

Posted by: merhoff | November 23, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Re. mohair subsidies, apparently one of our agro subsidies goes to cotton farmers. Brazil sued us in WTO and won. We appealed but lost---and guess what we did to solve the problem. No, we didn't retract the now illegal subsidy---we pay multiple 100M$ subsidy to Brazilian cotton industry, to offset our subsidy and shut them up. How crazy can it get?

Posted by: przemek1 | November 23, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

If I hear another conservative say that Buffet, who thinks taxes on people of higher income _should_ be raised, "is free to write a check to the U.S. government for as much money as he wants" I'll puke at the shear hypocrisy of it. This is just another way for conservatives to say that they don't want to pay their share of taxes. Since WWII, under only three presidents has the national debt relative to GDP gone up: Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43. Of course, they did this by promising and giving tax cuts, but no spending cuts. The debt accumulated under these three presidents has paralyzed us, making it very difficult to deal with the oncoming economic problems, repair infrastructure, etc. Of course, apologists for Reagan have said many times that he increased the debt precisely with the intent to strangle "big government." Never mind that we can't deal with things that we must deal with.

People often mention the VAT tax, basically a sales tax. As if that will solve our problems! People would still fight against paying a fair, or unfair, share of that type of tax. Of course, the VAT tax people fail to mention that it is not progressive wrt to tax rate--it's the equivalent of a flat income tax rate. In short a VAT is a red-herring. Simplify the current tax system: NO deductions, NO credits, NO exemptions, all income treated the same whether it's income from work or capital gains. You pay income tax at a rate based on income. You fill out a "postcard" every year as a tax return. You know what your tax will be at the beginning of a year. No one understands the tax system anymore. Smply the income tax system by eliminating the above in return for MAYBE lower taxes. Get rid of the tax evasion junk, and the IRS budget could shrink by $ billions/year--of course, we'd probably destroy the tax return preparation industry.

The problem is simple: most people want spending cuts on that spending that does not affect them; most people want tax cuts, even though taxes are not all that high by historical standards. Solving the problem is the hard part--TPiers are the most unpatriotic people and refuse to acknowledge the benefits of paying taxes.

The childishly naive Tea Partiers think that deficits are easy to get rid of, that all it takes are a "spending cuts" and, through some arithmetic that I'm unfamiliar with, "tax cuts." Doesn't add up. Managing our government's budget is an ongoing, continuous battle; it is certainly not a one time initiative. The same is true on a lessor scale for a family budget. Future spending and taxes must be reviewed every year with adjustments made--else one gets to a point where really draconian measures must be taken.

Hey, let's finally get rid of the Mohair subsidy!!!! Bet you can't!!!

Posted by: ptgrunner | November 23, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we give people a real choice...raise taxes on yourself or on the upper 5% to close the deficit. We could put it to a vote. The deficit has to be paid by someone. Let the taxpayers decide. My guess is that a lot of people who say they support tax cuts for the wealthy would change their minds if given a direct choice. I was a teacher and made $50K last year. Ask me if I'd rather pay an additional $3K a year in taxes or ask the upper 2% to pay an additional $30K. Don't ask if I want to keep both our taxes low. The money has to come from somewhere.
____________________________

Insight,

Better yet, how about supporting a nationwide sales tax, aka a Value Added Tax, aka VAT and eliminate the income tax? Who can afford to buy expensive cars, houses, boats, planes, etc.? The rich! Therefore, if you want the rich to pay more taxes, then tax them when they buy stuff! Most of the 5% do not pay taxes because they shield their income so they don't have income, per the IRS's definition of income. Why? Because of loopholes put into the current tax code by both flavors of polticians (D's and R's). A VAT would level the playing field.

Details would have to be worked out to not tax most food purchases from grocery stores and clothing, certainly, some clothing should be taxed ($100+ jeans and shirts come to mind) and other ways to make sure those below the poverty level do not pay any taxes, but they can be worked out and all but eliminate needing to deal with the IRS on a yearly basis.

Posted by: ATrueChristian | November 23, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we give people a real choice...raise taxes on yourself or on the upper 5% to close the deficit. We could put it to a vote. The deficit has to be paid by someone. Let the taxpayers decide. My guess is that a lot of people who say they support tax cuts for the wealthy would change their minds if given a direct choice. I was a teacher and made $50K last year. Ask me if I'd rather pay an additional $3K a year in taxes or ask the upper 2% to pay an additional $30K. Don't ask if I want to keep both our taxes low. The money has to come from somewhere.

Posted by: insightinc | November 23, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"You may want to plug your ears."

Why? Are we about to embark on another Big Bang Theory?

Posted by: bertzel | November 23, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Buffet bought a conscience (at a wholesale price, of course).

Posted by: itsme12 | November 23, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates should not have to pay taxes. They both do more good with their support of health problems around the world than the government would ever do...

-----------------------------

Where is your brain? Shouldn't have to pay taxes because they both do more good with their support of...

Then they can damned well pay taxes!! If they can afford to give away wealth, to whatever (it really isn't important, that "whatever"), then they can afford to pay taxes, taxes that, I remind you, pay for our roads, bridges, police force, fire depart., clean drinking water, all of the thing that they also use, along with the rest of us!

If then they can still afford to donate to other causes, well good! Let 'em knock themselves out! The recipients are very grateful to have that extra, I think.

But this idea of yours that because they donate they shouldn't have to pay taxes is moronic!

Posted by: taroya | November 23, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates should not have to pay taxes. They both do more good with their support of health problems around the world than the government would ever do. Let them dispose of their wealth as they now do. They put their money where their mouths are, for damn sure. Would you rather have the congress allocate the funds?

Posted by: merhoff | November 23, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

There's always been a goodly number who feel that Americans miss having a royal family – noteworthy because it might explain our fascination and protective posturing on behalf of our moneyed-and-mansioned classes. After we were set free from George III and subsequently fumbled around for a few years with the useless Articles Of Confederation, serious talk arose about General Washington becoming our king – despite the colonists’ history with arrogant privilege – and further discussion about referencing the president as “Your Majesty.” Update that sort of thinking to the present day, and our odd fixation on royalty remains fundamentally intact. One need not be a TV addict to know that Prince William is about to marry a commoner -- and thankfully, a very rich one at that. American media coverage can barely offer enough hand-in-hand images of the royal two-some grinning their handsome faces off, plus increasingly breathless speculation about which cathedral will prevail for the wedding, and who will be wearing what designer’s creations. (Which brings to mind Queen Elizabeth: what in the world does she carry in that color-coordinated, ever-present purse of hers? Snapshots of the corgis? An autograph book? Her fishing license?) Were it not for the endless chatter about the daily nudie shows going on at airport security these days, there would be something like a Royals’ Reality Show running twenty-four-seven on all of the networks. What do you think, TT?

Posted by: dudeupnorth | November 23, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Tom ... That was a waste. Usually your column has some insight -

Posted by: PlumHunter | November 23, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse


A little over the top, but point made.

Economist Michael Hudson gets it right: Most rich people don't create wealth; they extract it from the rest of us.

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | November 23, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Yep...but I think 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' tops the list....
Posted by: bertzel
--------------
And that WMD IS the GOP and their puppet masters.
--------------
Thanks for the honesty, Mr. Buffett.

Posted by: pjohn2 | November 23, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

~~~ See the trend?
Posted by: billybeer6 | November 23, 2010 5:29 AM ~~~

Yep...but I think 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' tops the list....

Posted by: bertzel | November 23, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

So exactly how many checks has Buffett written to the Treasury to assuage his liberal guilt? Same for Bill Gates. And for that matter, how many has little Tommy written? It's not surprising that none of these hypocrites has ever voluntarily given anything extra to the Treasury. Action speak louder than words, gentlemen. Time to put up or shut up.

Posted by: jpost1 | November 23, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in the time after WWII when we though less about taxes and bond issues and more about what our Government did with the money - new schools, new dams and bridges and even a national highway system. We voted for bond issues and increased taxes because we knew they would do all of us some good.

Now we are misers and make the shared space so miserable that we all suffer.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 23, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats great leader and former Democrat Party VP nominee, John Edwards tried fooling people with his "two America's" class warfare shtick. Edwards always talked about cutting the rich down to size. He turned out to be a complete fraud who liked his $400 haircuts and mistresses. The Democrats great leader and former Democrat Party VP, Al Gore keeps trying to fool people with his manmade global warming shtick. Gore likes his multiple mansions, 100 ft houseboat and private planes. See the trend?

Posted by: billybeer6 | November 23, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

You nailed him Tom, doesn't he have a birth certificate from the "Conch Republic?"

Posted by: jornolibist | November 22, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

You're right Tom! Buffett must be part of the anti-colonial conspiracy! He must have been the one that planted the fake Obama birth announcement in the newspaper!

I wonder if this has anything to do with the brilliant educational piece Glenn Beck did on the George Soros puppetmaster conspiracy.

Posted by: will12 | November 22, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Well from what I understand there are at LEAST two more....Gates and Turner...just sayin'.

Posted by: bertzel | November 22, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

TT, Excellent comment. But then again, Buffet is a billionaire with a conscience. Chances are he will never behave like the other boys in the club. We need a few more like him.

Oh, and some elected officials could use one of them there conscience thingies too.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | November 22, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

To Tom Toles...
It looks like your Candidate for the Republican solution to unemployment is wearing a straight jacket instead of a golden parachute.
Dave

Posted by: OchamsRazor | November 22, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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