Public Nuisances

The Orifice of Omaha

September 19, 2011

Multiple Pages
The Orifice of Omaha

Warren Buffett is the outspoken ass of a generation. Perhaps that comes with being conservative in his demeanor yet liberal with other people’s money. But this extends well beyond Buffett’s constant caterwauling for higher taxes. Warren is an all-around offense, and what follows are some of the reasons why.

Warren Buffett is modest and he is more than happy to tell you so. Buffett will go on and on about the used auto he owned. Buffett will belabor the point that he lives in an ordinary home. Buffett will proudly proclaim he takes but a base salary. Given half a chance, Buffett will bluster any listener within earshot about his humble lifestyle and unassuming ways. He is the most unpretentious man alive, and he has written several books for you to read all about that fact.

Some might rejoin that when one already has over a billion dollars there is little need of additional salaried income. Moreover, an automobile becomes little more than an unneeded accessory once your company subsidizes a chauffeured limo to ferry you to all appointments. As for locales, a settled home becomes little more than an unneeded accessory once your business picks up the tab for an endless parade of Royal Suites during constant globetrotting.

“Warren Buffett is the outspoken ass of a generation.”

Another of Buffett’s sanctimonious testimonies is that he intends to leave nothing of his considerable fortune to his children. If this alone doesn’t reek of asininity, nothing else could. Not only did Buffett make his money in markets far less regulatory than today’s environment (à la Old Joe Kennedy), but the mere fact that he has been so fiscally adroit seems little reason to disinherit his less able offspring.

Not that those heirs will be suffering much, since Warren has given some of them overpaid positions in his personal enterprises. Like father, like sons (and daughter), they all loudly proclaim themselves pleased to be shut out, though that is much easier to accept after one has been set up to succeed with high salaries in Buffett businesses or as officers of Buffett charities with golden parachutes to match. (Also saving them from want, their mother bequeathed each at least $10 million upon her passing.)

Even if one would deem some scant redemption in this act of disinheritance, the mere fact Buffett pompously promotes his intention so unremittingly strips it of any relevance whatsoever. His descendants are little more than stage props for this oversized egomaniac who uses their disenfranchisement to satisfy his personal desire for greater publicity. That he does it in the guise of a beneficent Horatio Alger-esque hero makes it all the more grating.

Which leads to Warren’s most recent shenanigans, demanding for the better part of a decade that we must pay more taxes. This has been his personal crusade as long as most have been paying attention to this clinging personality, and the ploy is wearing petulantly thin. One might have thought it would all be over now that we have nearly quarter-population unemployment and the very small business “millionaires” who would create most new jobs would be most impacted by this inane notion. Not so.

Lamentably, the sole individual with a more insatiable need for attention than Buffett happens to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So on September 19, 2011, Barack Obama announced the “Buffett Rule,” which would impose higher taxes on so-called millionaires.

Buffett never tires of proclaiming he pays lower taxes than his employees. His constant exemplar of a secretary makes $60,000 annually—a respectable salary, yet not particularly generous as contrasted against running paperwork for one of the planet’s most active executives. Buffett himself makes approximately $46 million per year. And this is how the man who would care for all Americans provides for his own? Noblesse oblige begins at home, Warren.

Often unmentioned is that Buffett’s tax rate is so low due to his income from long-term investments. For people actually earning over $373,000 due to their diligence and ingenuity as opposed to receiving their income from interest, the actual taxation stands at 35% in federal assessments alone. Who knew that being a “millionaire” began so low?

Warren doesn’t state whether he is to assume any extraordinary liabilities of this country’s non-paying by utilizing the line on the American tax return whereupon one can voluntarily contribute beyond what is assessed. He is encouraged to make use of this assumption with all due haste so long as he donates his money and not our own.

Yet most infuriating about the entire debacle of debate is that in this Punch and Judy show in Washington, each continues to refer to the measure as making people “pay their fair share.” In this general notion, the author is in complete agreement. But we tend to disagree about who is not already paying that “fair share.”

What of the over 50% of American citizens who pay no income taxes whatsoever? Is zero percent their “fair share”? If so, one begs to differ. These are the very people who most avail themselves of social services of every kind. Not only do they pay nothing to begin with, they proceed to strip the system bare of the very things which those unpaid taxes so readily provide.

Moreover, there are a host of families (we shall call them “the middle class”) who pay the very most yet derive the very least from the current system of American government. These are those who make just enough money not to qualify for anything from anyone. No food assistance, no housing assistance, no tuition assistance, and definitely no assistance from the likes of Buffett and his cohorts. There is no evidence the Buffett tax will do anything for these, except to make finding a new or better job more difficult and making the prospect of working as diligently as they already do even less appealing since their potential reward will diminish.

Buffett continues his unabated demonization of the developers, inventors, and producers. It is a grotesque farce that so many contribute absolutely nothing to society (except possibly crime and unwanted children) yet endlessly devour its resources and never pay so much as a shilling into the till.

The only fair assessment would be if everyone contributes a share. It doesn’t need to be much, it needn’t even be equal, but it does need to be something.

Before Buffett blathers on anymore with his half-baked notions of what is morally just, one would recommend that he bother to read a book. Malthus said it best, though hundreds have stated the same. Perhaps most succinctly, indulging the weak hobbles the able.

We are not faced with a dilemma of the very few who have “only” one-third up to one-half of their annual income appropriated by an overreaching government, but are instead grappling with the enormity of ingrates who pay naught yet demand even more from workers otherwise forced to subsidize them.

The problem in America is with non-payers, not with millionaires. But we could certainly do with one less billionaire being bothersome to the the nation’s productive people.

 

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