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L.E. Brown / July 24, 2014

The Hypocrisy of the Wealthy

A Sunday, July 21 “60 Minutes” show contained a segment as vulgar as his likely to ever be shown on television.

The stars were some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families who have pledged to to give some of their wealth to philanthropy.

The segment was narrated by pious Charlie Rose. He was an apt choice since he mirrors his fellow millionaires on the show, given how he has famously followed the legendary Bill Moyers in transforming his “public” television career into millions of dollars, supported by taxpayers.

There they were, some 15 of the world’s wealthiest people, boasting about how they are humbly giving away their millions to their fellow men and women. Some got teary-eyed as they boasted about their charitable, do-good works.

It was enough to make ones blood boil.

Rose told us humble peons watching and listening that, collectively, billionaires have given away trillions of dollars of their own money in the past few years.

Not once did Rose nor any of the panelists mention that giving away those millions has earned for them themselves millions in income tax write-offs. Nor did anyone mention that someone else has to make up for the taxes they avoid.

Ted Turner could be said to have blazed a path for other billionaires to follow when years ago he gave a million dollars to the United Nations Children’s Fund and reaped $1.2 million in tax savings. All perfectly legal.

To keep the ability to keep such use of their money in the U.S. Tax Code, millionaires and billionaires typically give handsomely to political election campaigns. While the crew on Sunday’s show contained some of the Democrat Party’s major supporters, many often also give to Republicans, just in case they win and will be in position to help keep the Tax Code friendly.

The current crop of philanthropic millionaires and billionaires pledged on the show to redouble their worrysome task of figuring out how to unload millions more in the future.

Their main purpose in being on the show, they said, was to persuade and encourage other wealthy people to give their money away, too.

Among the leaders of the pack were billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

The billionaires denied that they are using their money to engineer social change and influence human behavior through use of their money —- then promptly explained how their programs are doing just that.

One female said she, with her money, was “transforming our schools.” Which reminds one that Gates has financed several education “initiatives,” all colossal failures.

Now, Gates has the added chore of figuring out how to give away some of Buffett’s millions, if Buffett is to be believed when he said he has given the bulk of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “reduce global poverty and disease.”

Right now, it seems that Kenya is among the most needy nations.

One monied person boldly allowed how his money helps fund the Centers for Disease Center, presumably which helped the center to send by mistake anthrax bacteria to labs around the country. Of course, the CDC is more famous as the controller of where anti-flu vaccine is sent each year, for when it misdirected the vaccine, resulting its being available where it wasn’t needed and not available where it was needed.

When Buffett recently and famously announced that, as a percentage of income, he paid less income taxes that did his secretary, he conveniently left out the simple truth: his taxes are low, or non-existent, primarily because he takes advantage of tax deduction rules in the IRS code which allows him to reduce his taxable income considerably.

In other words, his accountants use rules that allow Buffett to avoid taxes which other taxpayers, namely middle-income folks, have to make up for.

For that Buffett and others are lauded by an adoring mainstream media.

L.E. Brown, Jr. is an independent columnist based in Magnolia, N.C. Email him at [email protected]

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