Warren Buffett

Steve Jobs: A man worth emulating

Seeing as nearly every site on the Internet has a tribute of some sort to recently deceased Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, I won’t bore you with another.  Needless to say, as one of the millions who has contributed some portion of his salary to Mr. Jobs over the years, he has had an impact on my life.  But I see him as more than a guy who made me fork over hundreds for fancy MP3 players, smartphones, and more.

Steve Jobs was, in my mind, the quintessential capitalist.  He is not a man who was known for great charity, in the traditional sense.  Instead, he contributed to society in a way that is far greater than that.  He created things that we actually wanted, and that actually made our lives more productive and happy.  And in the end, we were more than happy to give him our hard-earned money because these were, in our estimations, things of VALUE.

This is an important distinction in a world where the media and those left-of-center tend to obsequiously worship only those wealthy who set up foundations and grants, or who lobby for taxes on their peers to be raised (see Obama, Bill Clinton, Buffett, and many others).  Now, there is nothing wrong with giving to charity, if that is your choice.  But it is indeed strange for anyone to be lauded for advocating the forced confiscation of wealth from others.  It’s a strange mindset indeed.

Steve Jobs, on the other hand, was the opposite of this.  He was not a political player in any major way.  He just innovated and put forth new ideas, new ways of thinking, new technologies that we didn’t know we needed.  In this way, he was the living embodiment of the truly beautiful relationships that a free market can create - a system wherein millions got gadgets they wanted, and Jobs became incredibly wealthy.

End the War on the Rich

There are more and more people out there pissed at the rich.  I certainly understand where they’re coming from, but they’re wrong.  The rich per se aren’t the problem.  It’s time to quit fighting against the rich.  Occupy Wall Street has been wanting to smack the rich, and making a lot of noise about it.  The problem is they’re wrong.  The rich are not now, nor have they ever really been, the problem.

No, the problem is the corporatists.  Those are the people we need to stand united against.

Corporations are a tool, a way to organize businesses.  They’re not the enemy either.  However, the people who seem to believe that corporations deserve tons of special breaks, including government bailouts, are.  They are the reason people are pissed.

Ezra Klein has a piece where he outlines many of the complaints of the OWS-ers.  Most of them are debt related.  A lot of it is student debt, debt that Presidents through the years told them to take on for a better life.  I understand that anger…to a point.

But you look around and the reality is not everyone is suffering. Wall Street caused this mess, and the government paid off their debts and helped them rake in record profits in recent years. The top 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income and 40 percent of its wealth. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to be doing everything they’re supposed to do, and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

Eat the Rich

Oh yeah baby, the new plan is here. Raise Taxes on those Rich Sunsabitches. Once again confirming the old adage “Democrats Tax and Spend, and Republicans just spend”.

In what would appear to be a last ditch effort to get out of the basement in Presidential rankings, President Obama is proposing an increase of taxes on the “super earners” of America that may in fact close the gap on the deficit enough to restore America’s credit rating.

The one question I have yet to see asked is: Who does a better job with money, the government, or top private earner? The question that has been asked (and answered) is how much would increasing taxes on top earners actually increase revenue? And I would like to expand on that:

Warren Buffett, who has spoken out about “not paying enough taxes” made about 43 Million last year according to one report I read – and he paid about 18%. That’s about $7,740,000. Want to know what that covers in terms of Federal Government Spending? $3.9 Trillion Divided by 365 days, divided by 24 hours, divided by 60 minutes = $7,420,091.So obviously, doubling Mr. Buffett’s taxes will get you…. One whopping minute of spending.

Or put another way…. It’s just shy of 1.5% of what the federal government just lost with Solyndra. Apparently though, $535 Million is a “drop in the bucket”. You need seventy Warren Buffetts just to pay for the Solyndra theft loss… that doesn’t seem like a drop in the bucket to me.

Real tax hikes, phony spending cuts

President Barack Obama made his pitch yesterday to jack up tax rates on high-income earners and bring a host of new fees that will reach across income groups — offering $3 in tax hikes for every $1 in spending cuts:

Drawing clear battle lines for next year’s elections, a combative President Barack Obama on Monday demanded that the richest Americans pay higher taxes to help cut soaring U.S. deficits by more than $3 trillion. He promised to veto any effort by congressional Republicans to cut Medicare benefits for the elderly without raising taxes as well.

“This is not class warfare. It’s math,” Obama declared, anticipating Republican criticism, which was quick in coming.
[…]
The president’s proposal, which he challenged Congress to approve, would predominantly hit upper-income taxpayers and would also target tax loopholes and subsidies used by many larger corporations. It would spare retirees from any changes in Social Security, and it would direct most of the cuts in Medicare spending to health care providers, not beneficiaries.

Benefit programs wouldn’t be unscathed. Obama’s plan would reduce spending for those, including Medicare and Medicaid, by $580 billion. But with Republicans calling for massive cuts in entitlement programs, Obama said he would veto any legislation that cut Medicare benefits without raising new revenue.

Is Warren Buffett a hypocrite?

Is the Oracle of Omaha a hypocrite?  He is, according to the New York Post.  For those with faulty memories or who simply weren’t paying attention, Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed claiming that he and his fellow “mega-rich” weren’t really paying enough in taxes.  Obviously, this tore through the internet with both sides battling over Buffett’s arguments.  However, the Post claims that despite Buffett’s claims that he’s not taxed enough, his own company hasn’t even paid what it owes.

This one’s truly, uh … rich: Billionaire Warren Buffett says folks like him should have to pay more taxes — but it turns out his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t paid what it’s already owed for years.

That’s right: As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson notes, the company openly admits that it owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002.

“We anticipate that we will resolve all adjustments proposed by the US Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for the 2002 through 2004 tax years … within the next 12 months,” the firm’s annual report says.

It also cites outstanding tax issues for 2005 through 2009.

Um…oops?

Buffett is free to argue any position he wishes.  However, if he truly feels that he isn’t taxed enough, then why hasn’t Berkshire Hathaway, that he is chairman and CEO of, paid their taxes?  Or maybe it’s as the Post suggests, that he only wants to shill for President Obama.

Taxing the rich is smoke and mirrors

When it comes to debt reduction, one often cited method is to increase taxes on the richest Americans.  It’s a small wonder that this one gets trotted out so much, since it’s typically rather popular.  Even billionaire Warren Buffett has come out in support of this one, citing that he has a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary.  The problem is that it won’t actually solve a thing.

The whole “tax the rich” is smoke and mirrors, designed to look like those in power are addressing the issue of debt while really doing nothing more than taking more money that wasn’t theirs to start with.  We could take every penny from every billionaire in this country, as well was tax the profits of every Fortune 500 company in the U.S. and still have a problem with our debt.

There are plenty who will say that I’m arguing that if it won’t fix it all, then it shouldn’t be done at all.  I’m actually not.  What I’m saying is that the whole argument is predicated on it doing something that it really won’t.  People are free to support whatever policies they so choose, but they need to be aware of the fact that what they’re proposing won’t make a dent in the national debt.  It won’t really make a dent in the deficit either.

Taxation is essentially the government taking money from citizens to pay for whatever.  The key word in that is “taking”.  Making no mistake, it’s the correct verb.  They take it from Americans like you and me, and then spend it on things that we might not necessarily agree with.  They’ve used it to fund wars that were horrendously unpopular.  They’ve used it to arrest such nefarious criminals as guys who sell raw milk.  Ah yes, they use it oh so wisely </sarcasm>

Why Atlas will never shrug

Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged regained a great deal of attention recently, what with the economic crisis looming and much of the rhetoric coming out of Washington matching the rhetoric uttered by Rand’s various villains.  References to the 1957 novel have made their way onto talk radio, cable television, and Tea Party protests throughout the land.  In the book, the great minds of the world go on strike, and even sort of compared to Atlas – who holds the world up on his shoulders – shrugging.

Unfortunately, it’s never going to happen.

In Rand’s book, all the minds share common ideals.  They all believe they have a right to make whatever they make.  They believed they’re entitled to the wealth they earned from the products of their own mind.  They believed that their own self interest was sufficient cause for their actions.

Reality is another matter entirely.  For the record, I’m a fan of the book.  As I write this, I’m actually wearing a shirt with the first edition’s cover on it.  I’ve read the book four times, and as anyone who’s read it can tell you, you do not read it four times unless you like the book.  However, I can’t escape the fact that Atlas will never shrug.

The reason for that is that many of the minds, the people who make the things that make this nation run, are no different in their own ideologies from the James Taggarts and Wesley Mouchs of Rand’s imagination.  Bill Gates is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our day, and yet he leans left on most issues…and this is despite being hammered with antitrust violations in the past.  Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, also tends to lean left on most issues.

Warren Buffett still pushing his irrelevant “millionaires tax”

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is back in the national news. With talks on the “fiscal cliff” heating up, Buffett is once again pushing for a “millionaires” tax (also known as the “Buffett Rule”) as bridge between some sort of comprehensive tax reform plan:

In an op-ed column in Monday’s New York Times, Buffett advocates that taxable income of between $1 million and $10 million should be taxed at a minimum 30% rate, and that income above $10 million should be taxed at 35%.

“A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours,” Buffett writes. “Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.”
[…]
Some have suggested comprehensive tax reform, which eliminates many deductions across the board and simplifies the tax code, would be the best policy for the economy. Buffett writes he supports such tax reform, but that he believes higher tax rates on the wealthy should be an interim step.

“The reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities,” he wrote in the Times. “We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.”

Stephen King wants to pay more in taxes

We’ve had to endure overtures from Warren Buffett and Matt Damon about how they and other wealthy people should be paying a higher tax rate, a problem they could solve by simply visiting Pay.gov, a handy website where individuals can send more money to the federal government if they so desire. But now Stephen King, a brilliant writer, has joined the calls in a post at The Daily Beast:

Buffett Rule fails in the Senate

Despite the push from President Barack Obama, his campaign team, and Democrats, the 30% tax on millionaires — dubbed the “Buffett Rule” — unsurprisingly went down yesterday evening in the Senate:

The Senate rejected consideration Monday of the “Buffett rule ,” a key election-year Democratic initiative that would impose a minimum tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year, as a philosophical debate over taxes that will define this year’s elections occurred on Capitol Hill.

Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and proceed to a full consideration of the measure, with the Senate voting 51 to 45 to move ahead. The vote was largely along party lines, although Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats to allow the measure to proceed and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted to block it.

As noted above, it was mostly a party line vote, but if you want to see how your Senators voted you can view the roll call here.

Unfortunately, the vote doesn’t mean the end of this charade over tax hikes. We’ve noted before that the Buffett Rule wouldn’t have brought in much in terms of revenue, approximately $47 billion over 10 years — or just under $5 billion annually; less than half a day of spending. And that small amount of revenue would literally be nothing compared to the trillion dollar budget deficits we’ve seen coming out of Washington in recent years.

 
 


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