If you haven’t read it already, treat yourself to multi-grillionaire Warren Buffet’s opinion piece in this past Sunday’s issue of the New York Times, entitled Stop Coddling the Super-Rich. (You may have to register with the Times website to read it there, although Mr. Google will point you toward dozens of no-registration-required sites where chunks of Buffet’s screed are quoted.)
Why link to this here? Not because I actually believe that electing a billionaire – any billionaire – to the U.S. presidency is a Great Idea (in fact, it’s a terrible one), but because Buffet’s argument is so common sensical, and because common sense (and a sense of proportion) seems so rare among the wealthy. And because Buffet has always sounded so sensible from what I’ve read of his notions in the past. And because it seems unprecedented – unprecedented in the history of the world? – to hear such sentiments espoused by anyone in Buffet’s income bracket.
Buffet seems to be one of the few people of wealth who’ve grasped that it is in the best long-run interests of the wealthy and the wannabe weathy for the U.S. not to be allowed to remain the banana republic it has been morphing into since the Reagan era.
There is a depressing scarcity of common sense – not to mention leadership – among the current raft of elected federal officials (who rely heavily on their oligarch friends to get elected). Perhaps the Obama administration and Congress should turn over the perpetually-evaded task of overhauling the loophole-laden U.S. tax code to Mr. Buffet, instead of relying on their colleagues – or, more probably, a bunch of lobbyists – to come up with some useful recommendations?
At any rate, reading Buffet’s Times piece made me feel momentarily proud and to be a fellow U.S. citizen: this is a rare instance of an oligarch advocating in public (and in an outlet of the mainstream media) for some legal limits on his and his fellow-oligarchs’ privileges. I doubt this would have happened in any other country of the world.
The reform of the tax code isn’t the total solution to all the problems of our society, but nothing but good – for everyone – would come from it, and Buffet seems to have grasped that.