Burt Prelutsky / Aug. 29, 2011

The Holier-Than Thou Billionaire

Whenever anyone wants to prove that millions of Americans are either dumb or just plain nuts, they mention that 12% of the population is convinced that a badly scarred James Dean is living as a hermit and a 450-pound Elvis Presley is working at a 7/11 outside Nashville. I say that doesn't prove anything beyond wishful thinking. A far more convincing case can be made by pointing out that even now 40% of Americans believe that Barack Obama is doing a bang-up job.

In a saner world, it's Obama who would be a hermit or working at a 7/11 in Chicago.

Whenever anyone wants to prove that millions of Americans are either dumb or just plain nuts, they mention that 12% of the population is convinced that a badly scarred James Dean is living as a hermit and a 450-pound Elvis Presley is working at a 7/11 outside Nashville. I say that doesn’t prove anything beyond wishful thinking. A far more convincing case can be made by pointing out that even now 40% of Americans believe that Barack Obama is doing a bang-up job.

In a saner world, it’s Obama who would be a hermit or working at a 7/11 in Chicago.

One of the 40-percenters is none other than Warren Buffet. Recently he wrote or paid someone to write an op-ed for the NY Times. In it, he groused that rich guys like himself aren’t paying enough in taxes. He complained that he only paid about seven millions dollars in income taxes last year because his rate was a mere 17.4%. He whined that his rate was lower than that of the 20 people working in his office, whose own tax rates ranged from 33-41%.

Considering that Buffett is allegedly worth $50 billion and that he has vowed to give away 99% of his wealth before he kicks off, the question that leaps to mind is why he paid the IRS less than 20% of his 2010 earnings. Why not 100%?

If 17.4% worked out to seven million dollars, that means his taxable earnings were in the neighborhood of $40 million. What stopped him from chipping in the extra $33 million? Also, inasmuch as $40 million is less than one percent of his total wealth, why didn’t he write the U.S. Treasury a check for several billion dollars? I mean, for God’s sake, the guy is 81 years old. Isn’t it time he starts unloading his fortune? I realize that he is giving a lot of dough to the Bill Gates Foundation, but if he can pick and choose what he wants to do with his money, why can’t the rest of us? Why should we be expected to happily offer up additional dollars to feed the bottomless maw of the federal government?

Also, if a guy worth fifty billion earned less than one percent on his money, he is either sheltering an awful lot of moolah or he’s not the financial maven everybody claims he is.

Another thing worth mentioning is that we always hear that Buffet, just a regular guy, lives in the same Omaha house that he bought in 1957 for $31,500. What is hardly ever mentioned is that he also has a $4 million mansion in Laguna Beach, California.

He also has one of those $6.7 million corporate jets that his good buddy is always yammering about.

If Buffet wants to bellyache about taxes being too low, he should get up on his soap box and bitch about the 50% of Americans who pay no income taxes, but not only get to vote for the folks who make the loony tax laws, but who, in spite of paying no income taxes, collect about $110 billion in “refundable” tax credits!

Which is why the 50% of us who pay income taxes regard the IRS just the same way that Robin Hood regarded the Sheriff of Nottingham, while the 50% of freeloaders who inevitably vote for Democrats look upon the IRS the way small children regard Santa Claus.

I echo Michele Bachmann’s three choice words of advice for Mr. Buffet: “Write a check.”

What America doesn’t need is a billionaire blowhard pimping for Obama. Buffett should just stuff it!

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