[Ed. Note – please limit diaries to two per day. Please select one of your three to put in pending. Thank you.]
By now anyone who pays any attention to politics in this America is familiar with Warren Buffet’s Op-Ed, “Stop Coddling the Rich” wherein which he made the case for tax reform that allows the wealthiest Americans to pay a proportionately higher, and in his opinion, fairer tax rate. Its also somewhat amusing to watch the water carriers on the far right now besmirch Mr. Buffet as being “out of touch”, peddling faulty “math”, ad infinitum, now that he has parted company with them and their rhetoric. Clearly when one of America’s most successful businessmen is publicly taking a stand against the long held beliefs of the far right, all it can do is hurt. Let’s be honest, watching a guy who has been one of the most successful beneficiaries of the free market of all time, and to whom so many free market advocates have worshiped for so long, come out and denounce a position held so dearly on the right can only have the effect of sowing confusion and self doubt among those who are cheering for Mr. Buffets class while they themselves are paying proportionately more than he.
Well it seems that Mr. Buffet’s ideas have now spread across the pond as well. To wit: “Echoing a call by Warren E. Buffett, members of the European wealthy elite are urging their governments to raise their taxes or enact special levies to help reduce growing budget deficits. Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of the French advertising firm Publicis, on Tuesday became the latest European business leader to ask for higher taxes on top earners, writing in The Financial Times that it was “only fair that the most privileged members of our society should take up a heavier share of this national burden.” “I am not a masochist; I do not love taxes,” wrote Mr. Lévy, who is also president of a French association of private enterprises. “But right now this is important and just.” …”The multimillionaire chairman of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, backed Mr. Buffett’s idea in an interview with the Rome daily La Repubblica. “I am rich and I am ready to pay more taxes, for reasons of fairness and solidarity,” Mr. Montezemolo told the newspaper…This month, 16 of France’s wealthiest people, including the chief executive of the energy giant Total and the L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, signed a petition published in the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur urging the French government to tax them more. Other signatories were the chief executives of Société Générale, Airbus and PSA Peugeot-Citroën.
A group of about 50 wealthy individuals in Germany, who have been campaigning for a higher top tax rate since 2009, said last week that it welcomed the French petition. “Austerity programs, which affect mainly the poor, are ill-suited to solve the crisis,” said the group, whose name in German means the Initiative of the Wealthy for a Wealth Tax. From: Tax Me More, Europe’s Wealthy Say; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/business/global/as-austerity-bites-europes-rich-speak-up-to-be-taxed.html?_r=1&emc=eta1 See also The “Buffett Rule”; http://thepage.time.com/2011/09/18/the-buffett-rule/?artId=?contType=?chn
Then there’s this article that appeared on 9 September: The Enlightened Rich Want to Be Taxed; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/10/opinion/the-enlightened-rich-want-to-be-taxed.html?emc=eta1. Once again, to wit: “Some of the world’s wealthiest people are calling for higher taxes on the rich. They seem to recognize that the burden of the economic downturn cannot be borne entirely by the poor and middle class. The suggestion is motivated, no doubt, by a sense of justice — that the very rich, who have survived the financial crisis very well, should contribute more to shrinking public coffers to reduce the spending cuts that would hurt the most vulnerable. But altruism does not fully explain why members of the global elite are suddenly keen to prevent the deep budget reductions that will occur if governments don’t raise more money. They are also moved by what some might call enlightened self-interest. These nations risk more than social unrest. Austerity is already undermining economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Slashing funds for education, infrastructure and other vital needs will undercut future competitiveness and endanger industrialized nations’ economic performance for generations. Americans have been historically less inclined than Europeans to explosions of social rage, despite suffering more poverty than most other wealthy democracies. But with unemployment above 9 percent, rising poverty rates and declining family incomes, the no-taxes, all-cuts agenda that has gripped Congressional Republicans will fray our social fabric and squander human capital here as well. Mr. Buffett lives on the other end of the income spectrum, where 1 percent of American taxpayers — about 750,000 families — pocket more than 20 percent of the nation’s income. It is not surprising that the enlightened rich would think paying higher taxes was a wise investment. The Republicans in Congress need to be persuaded of that truth.”
Hey what’s happening here do we have some sort of “progressive contagion” sweeping the ranks of the worlds wealthy elite? Not really it’s just that the richest people in the world know the difference between what’s fair and what isn’t and they are increasingly coming down on the side of social fairness. Now I know there are some out there on the right who will try to say that the European rich are deathly afraid of “Marxists coming out of the woodwork” but those who make this argument are doing nothing more than putting their ignorance of European social and political action on display for all to see. What European country today has a viable “Marxist” movement that can truly pose the threat of a revolutionary overthrow of the political state? Some will try to make this same argument about the unions on both sides of the atlantic and likewise they will embarrass themselves as well in the process. But what’s got to be even more galling to the water carriers on the far right is the fact that they’re bending over backwards trying to defend the interests of the richest among us and their efforts are all for nothing as is evident in the burgeoning realization among the rich that the tax structure has to change. Talk about being left on the platform after the train has left the station. Talk about a case of unrequited love. Talk about being out of touch with the realities of those you emulate so devoutly. All of the aforementioned considered, what the leadership of the Republican Party should be talking about is dropping this out of touch arguments that it has been making about the rich and the taxes they pay and at the same time ask the Tea Party Caucus within the G.O.P. to find another project to work on other than the rich and their taxes. The Republican Party can do more to harm its chances in the election of 2012 by continuing to make these arguments rather than to start to expend some real effort on developing a program for the job creation that they have been asking about for the past two and a half years. The Republicans must now admit to themselves that they are out of touch with both the average American and the richest among us on this issue and abandon this position just as they have been abandoned by the very people they think they are helping. The time for obstruction is over, if you want to win the elections of 2012, that is.