Free Markets, Free People

Buffett: bluffs and buffoonery

I don’t understand the glee with which the left has greeted this story:

Warren Buffett is ready to call Republicans’ tax bluff. Last fall, Senator Mitch McConnell said that if Buffett were feeling “guilty” about paying too little in taxes, he should “send in a check.” The jab was in response to Buffett’s August 2011 New York Times op-ed, which made hay of the fact that our tax system is so unbalanced, Buffett (worth about $45 billion) pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Senator John Thune promptly introduced the “Buffett Rule Act,” an option on tax forms that would allow the rich to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt. It was, as Buffett told me for this week’s TIME cover story, “a tax policy only a Republican could come up with.”

Still, he’s willing to take them up on it. “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So Buffett has pledged to match 1 for 1 all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And I’ll even go 3 for 1 for McConnell,” he says.

What “bluff”?  I don’t recall any of the Republicans in question complaining they paid too little in taxes, do you?

Instead it was about Buffet claiming he paid to little in taxes and his further claim that he was willing to pay more.   What Republicans then promptly suggested is that he do so and even provided him an address to where he could send his voluntary contribution. They also insisted that taxes were high enough for all and that Buffett should speak for himself.

Now, at least as I see it, he’s trying to wiggle out of it by citing some sort of non-existent bluff which requires payment by Republicans before he is willing to pay.

Man up Warren Buffet … You made the claim and were provided with a solution.  This has nothing to do with others paying as well, this is your baby.

Put up or shut up about paying more in taxes.  You’ve become more than tiresome.


Twitter: @McQandO

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69 Responses to Buffett: bluffs and buffoonery

  • I notice on Wikipedia that the man sensibly has an income of $100k. Must be a real good saver to have amassed that 50 billion net worth. So just what is his beef with the tax system if he is deliberately limiting his own exposure to it? I can only assume that it is the “voluntary” part of the proposed deal that he doesn’t like.

    • @DocD Seriously? Shoot! If I’d have known that 10 years ago, I’d have been able to lower my pay to a point where I could qualify for food stamps and not feel bad. $100k….bwaaaahahahahahahahahah.
      I used to think back to Chrysler and Iaccoca and his $1 salary, but wasn’t brash enough to see how that would fly with the IRS.

    • @DocD Seriously, the man is extremely frugal with his money. He makes Uncle Scrooge look like a spendthrift. There is probably no one on Earth with a bigger disparity between his wealth (which is almost all tied up in Berkshire stock) and his spending. Read his bio, you’ll see. This is the primary reason he pays so little in taxes; he doesn’t actually use his wealth personally.

      • @grimshaw @DocD And I’m all for his right to do what he wants, spend it like Malcom Forbes and build Zepplins that look like dragons, or re-invest it and drive a beat up 1965 Ford Pickup.

        I object to his figuring out how others ought to be spending theirs.

        • @looker @grimshaw @DocD He is not figuring out how others ought to be spending them, he is exercising his right to speak his opinion, and your objections to his opinions are an example of you exercising your rights as well, but to object to his expressing his opinion makes no sense to me. Shut up and pay more if you think people should pay more??? Really? That’s the appropriate response? I don’t think so.

  • Buffett is not just voluntarily giving away some of his money, he is voluntarily giving away ALL of his money. That he doesn’t just give it to the fed to cover 5% of one years deficit is a rational decision of where it can do the most good. But he also recognizes the inequities in the tax system, which is laughable that anyone would deny. It’s not about people with very large “earned incomes”, they are part of the progressive system and pay a greater percentage and far more dollars than anyone. It’s about a small sub-group of people who “earn” their income as unearned income who can earn billions and pay rates lower than a single person getting a $50,000 annual paycheck.Fixing this won’t fix the problem, but not fixing it is just silly.
    I find it interesting that people with a proported libertarian bent would think the social engineering of taxing the income one’s labor different than one’s investment is perfectly acceptable. I frankly think that money earned with one’s labor should have GREATER import than income earned with one’s money, but I’ll surrender that point, and suggest we consider that one should not be favored over the other. What is the libertarian non-interefering argument for discriminating between kinds of income?

    • @CaptinSarcastic It isn’t the libertarian view on differing tax rates now is it? It is Mr Buffet pretending he can’t voluntarily remedy what he views as an imbalance for the good of his own conscience, or that making up some story about matching dollars against some politicians is anything other than sophistry.

    • @CaptinSarcastic What is the necessity of defending the idea that you don’t think enough people jump off bridges and suggest the government should mandate more people be forced to – and we respond that you can voluntarily jump off a bridge any time you like without any government mandate, and you respond that you’ll jump off three times if we’ll jump off first, and otherwise we should shut up about changing the mandate.

      There’s no need for us to defend any of the current tax policy (though I doubt many of us would). This is exactly what Bruce said, it’s Buffet trying to change the argument after having been, glaringly, caught out.

      • @looker Buffett took a position, it is very public and very simple to understand, you can agree with or disagree with it, but instead, McConnel decided to ignore the argument altogether and say, hey, give whatever you want, we are keeping these ridiculously specific special favor tax breaks in place. Buffet just said sure, if you will, I will. So which part do you want to defend?

        • @CaptinSarcastic
          Buffet’s argument is he’s not paying enough by force, it was observed he can pay an unlimited amount voluntarily if he doesn’t feel he’s paid enough.
          That obligates no one to do anything…
          except Buffet (and as we see, illustrative of a bullshit artist of the 1st water, he’s NOT paying extra, instead he’s now in childish double dog dare ya mode)

          I don’t need to defend anything, or even agree with the current tax policy. And there’s no straw man you can construct that will change that. This is about no one but Warren Buffet and his lament that he has too much darn money and he wishes the government would relieve him of that sad burden.

          No one, I repeat, NO ONE is stopping Warren Buffet from paying more in tax than he’s legally obligated to pay. That is not just McConnel’s position, it is FACT.
          It’s very simple, if he doesn’t feel he’s paid enough, he can write a check.

          People are not obligated to engage Buffet, in any argument he might propose merely because he publicly proposed it and bravely took a stand to tell other people what the government ought to do with their money.

        • @CaptinSarcastic I think we can rest assured that Warren is not expecting any new policy to cost him his fortune any time soon. I think we can rest assured that Warren expects his tax will remain pretty much as is, no matter what change is made.

          I think we can rest assured that Warren was engaging in demagoguery then,
          and now,
          and will continue to do so.

        • @looker McConnel was not obligated to engage Buffett and he didn’t, he chose the childish route that ignored McConnel’s own very direct decision to keep the tax rates at 15% for a bunch of guys, 25 of whom earn around a billion a year, who use a loophole to call their income from managing OTHER people’s money something other than earned income. The don’t pay SS taxes, they don’t Medicare taxes, and they pay a lower rate than a guy earning $50k. But McConnell’s answer was the childish middle finger, and THAT is what you ARE defending here. It is a matter of opinion as to whether Buffett is right or wrong, my opinion is that he right, people who make more should not pay a LOWER rate than people who make less. The same rate would be arguably unfair, but I will acknowledge the validity of those arguments, but there is no validity to this.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @looker You are a liar. Simple as that.

        • @Ragspierre @looker Well formed argument Raggy. It includes each of the elements of your best developed articulations, ad hominem and… well, and nothing, which pretty much describes your best, and only arguments.”President Obama has proposed the “Buffett Rule,” which would require the wealthiest Americans to pay a tax rate at least as high as the middle class.”

        • @Ragspierre @looker Well formed argument Raggy. It includes each of the elements of your best developed articulations, ad hominem and… well, and nothing, which pretty much describes your best, and only arguments.”President Obama has proposed the “Buffett Rule,” which would require the wealthiest Americans to pay a tax rate at least as high as the middle class.”

        • @CaptinSarcastic @looker Let’s see here. Possible options if Mr Buffet really truly believes that he and his kind are unfairly benefiting from a tax “loophole”…

          (1) Stop using the “loophole”, expose his true income to the income tax and not the capital rates.
          (2) Continue using the “loophole” but voluntarily make conscience-salving payments to the IRS.
          (3) Arrange so his employees gain benefit from “loophole”, give them capital to exploit.
          (4) Campaign for reduction of tax rates on people like his employees.
          (5) Old Warren is supposedly with about 50 billion. He could “donate” 100 million dollars a year to the IRS and by the time he died still be worth tens of billions of dollars. That would surely be a better demonstration of his ideals and challenge others, rather than arguing with politicians about stupid dollar-for-dollar schemes that benefit no-one.
          (6) Campaign for some nebulous change to the capital rate to make it fairer in comparison to the progressive income tax system, which will still leave a lot of people paying more tax than Warren since he’ll still be using whatever new “loopholes” are created.

          Really the fact that Warren pays a lower *rate* is a bit irrelevant, since he’s still paying a butt-load of money even at 15%. The unfair part is his employees paying 33% on their limited incomes… Having Warren pay 33% on his capital gains won’t fix that for them. So make it fair, drop their equivalent rates to 15%.

        • @CaptinSarcastic And, all that wonderful righteous speaking for fairness and justice and the American way aside, how is it that McConnell needs to pay up on voluntary extra taxes before Buffet? Based on his complaint that he, Warren Buffet, is undertaxed.
          How did McConnel get tied into Buffet’s need to be forced to pay more? Do you think Buffet maybe is into being dominated?

          No? see, it doesn’t, and it didn’t, and it’s just as I said, demagoguery by Buffet on behalf of others who think rich people have too much money which they ought to be forced to share. People who will engineer the next attempt at fairness very carefully to punish their political and business opponents. Because THIS attempt will be soooo much more fair than the last one was, we promise!

          As an added point I was unaware that Mitch McConnell, minority leader in the Senate had enough power to make these changes to the tax code on his own.

          I’m not defending the tax code. I’m attacking Buffet. He can lobby to have the code changed, in the meantime he can put his money where his fat cat mouth is, and pay some voluntary extra to save the rest of us. Where’s his check, do you suppose Cap?

          He’s the guy at the head of the mob with one of the torches, that will slip safely to the side side when the crowd rushes the barricades so he can better take advantage of the outcome. Till I see the check, that’s what I see, that’s my opinion. And he’s not any kind of hero, he’s a bullshit artist, but apparently, to paraphrase America’s view of anti communist dictators in the past “he may be a bullshit artist, but he’s your bullshit artist”.

        • It’s funny that Buffett seems to be the only guy, who when he talks his policy opinions, is told that he should shut up and unilaterly apply his opinions to himself. I think the next time we talk about the Heritage saying we have a spending problem, the argument should be we’ll cut spending when the Heritage funders, like the Koch Brothers, Boeing, Lockheed, Chevron, Exxon, etc unilaterally refuses the billions in government subsidies and contracts they have carved out for themselves. And then of course refuse to engage on the actual merits of the argument.

        • @DocD @CaptinSarcastic I’m trying to imagine the call between ‘Bob’ – heading up the yearly tax accounting team for Mr. Buffet, and Warren.

          “Mr. Buffet, it’s Bob Jones, head of the tax team. We’ve completed the forms and as usual you’ll be paying the minimum amount we could manage given your income and investments”
          “Really Bob? I’m shocked that you’d try so hard to keep my tax liability to the minimum required by law!”
          “No Bob, I think this year, you should avoid all the possible deductions I’m entitled to take, I really feel like I’m just not paying my fair share Bob, do you understand?”
          “Bob, you’re a smart guy, that’s why I hired you, I want you go out there, and throw out all the loop holes, declare my actual income to be in the billions, and pay the maximum amount on that income. Do you think you can do that for me Bob?”
          “uhhh, Sir?……Rogers? Is that YOU Rogers? What the hell are you doing in Mr. Buffet’s office? This is pretty sick Roberts.”
          “No Bob, it’s really me, Warren Buffet, now you go ahead and do as I directed, and let me know when you’re set, I’ll be down to sign the check myself”.
          “Uhhhh, yes sir”.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “It’s funny that Buffett seems to be the only guy, who when he talks his policy opinions, is told that he should shut up and unilaterly apply his opinions to himself.”

          No, I’m pretty sure Professor Erb gets more than Mr Buffet.

          Now seriously, you’re just being a bit of a goalpost shifter here. Have you been studying under the aforementioned great professor?

        • If Buffett’s experience, expertise, and success as a CAPITALIST can be discounted to suggest he is nothing more than a “bullshit artist” based on his policy opinions, Romney’s experience as a capitalist with a tiny fraction of the results of Buffett must be completely worthless.
          To your point, I don’t argue that I value Buffett’s entry into the national discussion because I do happen to agree with him. The Koch Brothers are successful billionaires, and I disagree with them, so yes, I get your point, but again, I would not argue that the Kock Brothers should unilaterally refuse to accept any government spending rather than consider their arguments to lower spending.

        • @CaptinSarcastic Ah, precisely. You seriously think the next round will be more fair rather than merely replace the list of companies you so carefully listed with say, good, honest, noble green companies like Solyndra, and Obama campaign contributors and Democratic contributors rather than evil Republican ones.

          which, once again, demonstrates you DO have an agenda Cap, though you try to come across as open minded – oil companies and defense contractors and of course, the Koch brothers, how could we neglect to mention them….

          No Cap, I don’t want a new policy of handouts to favorites any more than I want the old one. Till it’s really something approximating fair, and not handouts in a new direction, there ARE no merits to the argument.

        • You’re kidding right? I have been trying to argue the point on the merits, from the very beginning, I have practically been begging y’all to just stop with the personal attacks and unlateral suggestions towards Buffett, and consider the policy point he is making, but at every single turn, it has been turned back on Buffett personally, and I finally engage on the validity of arguing unilateral suggestions to policy arguments and you say I am shifting the goal posts? All I did was show that if you want the goalpost you have chosen, there is an opposite goalpost at the other end of the field.

        • @CaptinSarcastic While Buffet never did say he’d write a voluntary check, which, I agree, doesn’t obligate him to do so now, he doesn’t seem to be re-acting to the idea that he hasn’t paid enough by voluntarily doing so. So, to engage others, who never said they thought they didn’t pay enough, into a dare session is, bullshit.
          Buffet is the only one complaining about not paying his fair share.

          The entire argument is crap – it’s class warfare, it’s an appeal to envy with an agenda. I’m not rich, I will never be rich, I have no fear of ever being taxed for capital gains at any lower rate because I consistently, for 37 years haven’t HAD any capital gains to speak of and the 1 time I DID have some ( a house sale in which I refused to buy back into the range I sold for), I paid the maximum on the money I had left over after the purchase of the new house, about half of the money, as I recall.

          This is all academic to me at this point, I merely recognize that it is NOT my business to use government force to level playing fields to my liking and to redistribute the wealth of others who have, either through mere luck, or hard damn work, more than I do.
          It is the principle that what belongs to you, actually DOES belong to YOU, not ME, and not people I that I think deserve your wealth more than you do.

          Now, tell me what YOU believe about your wealth.
          No one stops you from giving to charity, no on stops Warren Buffet from writing big fat checks to the Treasury. There are no laws to prevent your unbounded generosity to worthy non-political cause you favor, and there are non to prevent Buffet either.
          Go forth, use your money to do good, let Warren Buffet do the same.
          But DON’T go trying to pick other people’s pockets on behalf of your worthy causes with the government standing behind you a gun protecting you in the act.

        • @CaptinSarcastic With all due respect. Bollocks. The topic of discussion was Buffet, so Buffet we were talking about. You start blubbering on about the Koch brothers… I’d say that is not only moving the goalposts but changing the game. I made plenty of other “policy points” that would have benefited Warren’s employees better than raising the capital rates. You’re really starting to go off into Erb-world now with all this nonsense about personal attacks.

        • Oh, I absolutely have an agenda, I have just given up on it as a political goal in favor of what I believe to be necessary to allow honest goverment to exist for any of us. It’s not that am, or am not, open minded, I have strong policy opinions and they are likely in opposition to yours. And I don’t mind engaging in the political arguments, using the tactics of political arguments, but I don’t expect them to make any difference one way or the other.
          My singular goal as it relates to policy is to try and find a way to make government accountable to voters, not special interests, and I firmly believe that our government, on both sides, from Obama to Romney, and from Reid to McConnell, and from Boehner to Pelosi, and all the way the down the line, is so deeply entrenched in special interest favors that honest government is impossible.
          So I say, and I mean it, that even though I am a left of center liberal, I think that honest conservative policies would do our nation more good than the current dishonest policies, whether they are ostensibly conservative or liberal. I believe that honest liberal policies would be the ideal, but again, let’s make government honest and then have an ideological battle.

        • Doc, your policy points were precisly changing the goal posts, ie; “Buffet should be arguing…”, I simply pointed out that supporting the unlateral argument is silly, and it can be turned around ad infinitem, without anyone addressing the argument itself. Do you not see the fallacy in your response, analagous to a situation that if you were to say, “children should not be beaten in the streets”, if I were to respond to by saying that your argument lacks merit because you should be arguing that babies should not be eaten in the dining halls?

        • @CaptinSarcastic Not at all. Buffet’s complaint was his employees were unfairly treated compared to himself, or that he was advantageously treated compared to them. Only one solution actually benefits the employees and that is lowering their tax burden. Sure you can raise the capital tax, but that hurts other people. Pointing out Buffet is a sophist who is not advancing the cause of his employees is not a logical fallacy, it is taking into consideration more things than old Waz wanted to.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “I firmly believe that our government, on both sides, from Obama to Romney, and from Reid to McConnell, and from Boehner to Pelosi, and all the way the down the line, is so deeply entrenched in special interest favors that honest government is impossible. ”

          And Warren Buffet making his point will not change that, if in fact Buffet really wanted things to change for him tax wise, or if in fact he actually believed that any change would end up costing him significantly more than he pays now.

          His argument was intended to do nothing more than provide one side with a stick with which (that which as been demonstrated) to beat the other, not to fix a damn thing.
          It merely continues the divisive policy of envy baiting and slicing the electorate into ever smaller circles to be more easily controlled via pandering and/or envy.

          Precisely the policies that will work contrary to your stated singular goal.

        • @DocD The error of your argument is implication that one position precludes the other. The discussion touches one element of Buffett’s policy opinions, but you pretend to know what Buffett’s holistic opinions are on the tax policy. Would it surprise you if Buffett had the opinion that his employees should have a much lower tax rate and people in his income range should have a much higher tax rate? Do you think for a moment that Buffett does not hold with general liberal ideology of very progressive taxation, and how could one not draw from that a conclusion that Buffett would not support more than just an increase in taxes on the very high earners, but also reduction on taxes for lower earners. ou can’t say because he has not mentioned it, that if had his druthers, that is how tax policy would work.

        • @CaptinSarcastic I think I speak for everyone when I say… ¿qué?

        • @CaptinSarcastic @DocD No, but I can say that what the post was about was nothing more than a continued publicity stunt, to add weight to the beating stick used by one party to beat the other.
          Were they left to their own devices and beat each other without involving the general populace it would be one thing. But instead they drive wedges between us that will last for decades, not just the next year they need to win the coming election.

          I can say with certainty that one party is for societal adjustment via government policy (and the other party too, just slightly less so).
          I have been saying for several years, both parties intend to take the country to hell, the difference between them is merely the speed with which we will be taken.

          This hardly makes Buffet a heroic figure in my book, regardless of what I think of McConnell. Actually, it makes it worse, because you can be certain that Buffet will NEVER live long enough to suffer dramatically from the consequences of his actions, but the general populace WILL.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @DocD I also think that Buffet could pay a vast sum more than he pays right now, voluntarily, yet he does not, for all his lamentation about how unfair that is.
          He is aware the government doesn’t have money for it’s purposes, he has a vast sum available. He advocates we FORCE him to give us more, but he will not do so voluntarily. And no one else’s policy, or plans, or proposals matter. He wants us to FORCE him, and those like him, to give us MORE.

          And I’m supposed to believe that’s all there is to this? That he could voluntarily give more, but will not, until he his forced to do so?

          You may draw your own conclusion as to what that indicates, whether he has mentioned his druthers or not. I think it speaks pretty clearly myself about his sincerity on the subject.

        • @DocD @CaptinSarcastic You guys have a great deal more patience than do I.

          This puke is just another poseur, who, like Erp, will wiggle and squiggle to the death, and lie through his teeth either directly or implication. His “grand insight” is that we need to curtail free speech in politics.

        • @looker I don’t disagree, I am arguing the point because it is arguable, but it is wholly irrelevant to my larger agenda. Policy changes around the edges won’t make a lick of difference, but that is true on both sides. We are stuck with what we have, bought government on both sides, until people like you and I that disagree on ideology, come together to realize that neither has a chance to get what they want until we fix government such that it is accountable to voters again, and not to special interests.
          This argument is just a diversion, entertainment, if you please.

        • @looker @DocD Yeah, because that is how Buffett makes his living, by publicity… oh wait, no, that’s McConnell.

        • @Ragspierre @DocD Actually, my grand insight, as you put it, is a more of a question than a solution, how do we move government accountability back to voters, as the Constitution intended (at least for the House), WITHOUT curtailing free speech. It will never be perfect, and money will always have influence, but now it appears that money has so much influence as to have made the will of the people irrelevant. I point to specific policy points that vast majorities of voters agree on, and that have been introduced as legislation, but have been roundly rejected by bipartisan majorities.
          But thanks for playing.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre @DocD This is the electronic equivalent of a camp-fire at midnight with a group of guys trying to figure out how to fix the world.

          Except the audience around the fire has the potential to be a great deal larger, and the net-scotch just isn’t working for me.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @DocD Yep. Typical posing elitist, pretending to speak for “vast majorities”. Your problem isn’t the legislative process (i.e., McCain-Feingold). It is the Constitution.

          But thanks for posing.

        • @Ragspierre @DocD Ahh, the source of our problems, those who would maintain the status quo on ideological grounds without the slightest clue that the status quo works against his ideals as much as they do mine. Blissful isn’t it?

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Ragspierre Hey Captain Crusader, there’s already a preacher round these parts banging on about ideological tripartisan neolibernazi gospels. If you try muscling in on his patch to conver us then Ayatollah Erb (pbuh) wil be putting a jihad on your ass.

    • @CaptinSarcastic But just to take up your point about differing tax rates. Unless you make the capital and income tax rates low and identical then I don’t really agree. Any investment is risky, particularly for those of us who have invested much more than the mere dollar value of the capital in starting businesses. The government typically doesn’t compensate you for lost investments, or for non-monetary losses related to your own time and stress. So, yes, I think there is a case for differing rates. You could have a more esoteric tax system to cover that maybe but ever more Byzantine rules just make more loopholes. Therefore, reducing tax rates across the board and reducing differences between sources of income are preferable.

      • @DocD @CaptinSarcastic One reason I favor a consumption tax on NEW stuff, not including food, medicine, and shelter.

        Or maybe single-malt scotch and good cigars…

        • @Ragspierre @DocD @CaptinSarcastic Trust me, no matter what you do, if it leaves the rich ‘rich’ then it’s unfair. It will only be fair when the all Americans have it as good as the average Soviet did in Moscow or Leningrad in say, 1988.

        • @Ragspierre @DocD @CaptinSarcastic Trust me, no matter what you do, if it leaves the rich ‘rich’ then it’s unfair. It will only be fair when all Americans have it as good as the average Soviet did in Moscow or Leningrad in say, 1988.

        • @looker @DocD @CaptinSarcastic I will be in Costa Rica. Look me up if that comes about.

        • @Ragspierre @looker @DocD Will you be like the thousands of Americans down there enjoying their social security checks and that great national healthcare system?

        • @CaptinSarcastic @looker @DocD No, CmdrStupid. I would be an expat giving my children and grandchildren the gift I determined years ago. I will work. At some point I will die. I will never collect on the Ponzi scheme.

          You just cannot help being a prick, can you?

        • @Ragspierre @looker @DocD Wow, a little touchy, aren’t we. I know people doing just what I described down in CR, it’s a popular place for Americans. Dollars stretch a bit further and English is spoken. I expect I’ll collect on that Ponzi scheme, it will just be pennies on the dollar compared to what I could have earned with that money. Stll don’t see how I was being a “prick”?

      • @DocD Life is risky, but rewards are rewards. A person taking a job is risking quite a bit on an uncertainty. You are making a qualitative argument that one risk is different than the other, I didn’t think the argument for greater liberty would give the government the right to make those decisions. One tax rate for all, with a threshold for all, and let the market decide what is and is not too risky. Besides, capital gains already get the benefit of writing off losses against them, so it’s not people people pay on the profit and just lose on the losers. An overall loser pays no taxes. An overall winner only pays taxes on the wins-losses.

        • @CaptinSarcastic Well I have had jobs, quit jobs without having a new one to go to and been the victim of redundancy when the company was relocated overseas. But I must say that I have never felt more at risk than when starting a company the last two years. Believe me, taking a job is far and away a lower risk proposition when you balance potential lost wages, pension contributions, unemployment benefit levels etc against a long term goal of coming out ahead. So yes, the risk is absolutely greater, so being able to claim some income at a lower rate is hardly

        • @DocD @CaptinSarcastic I agree. And it would have been nice if all one had to do as an owner was show up every day, sling some code and handle on-call. I recall suddenly my life and the life of the company truly became ONE.

        • @looker @DocD I have done both, and currently have something in between right now, kind of an independent contractor. I did not take the risk of starting a business because of the tax policy, I did for the potential reward. There are advantages and disadvantages in both, risks and rewards in both, but but frankly, we really are not talking about people who start small businesses, they generally form S corps anyway and pay at the individual rate. We are talking about people who’s business is using their money to make money, not a combination of investment and hard labor that defines small businesses.
          I am all for any advantages perks or encouring policies we can put it place to get people to start small businesses. But we are not talking about small businesses, we are talkng about the hundreds of billions of dollars in capital gains and dividends that get a preferential rate. But I am not a libertarian, so I would not expect such folks to even agree that it is okay to give preferential treatment to very positive actions like starting a new business. I would think they would say that the government should not interfere with their central planning and social engineering???

        • @CaptinSarcastic @looker @DocD I don’t work in the US, but the company forms sound similar. But I don’t see that companies should be discriminated against on the basis of their business, and if that business is investing then I have no problem with it compared to my own business which is manufacturing. Likewise I don’t have any problem with Mr Buffet supposedly paying 20% tax, even when I paid a marginal rate of 50% on my salary I had no problem with this. 20% on what he is making is far more than the 50% on the few thousand I made at that bracket, and I am sure that the money he gets has already been taxed in the company as well so it isn’t like the government is being cheated here.

          If the government is going to make things easier for businesses to start then it should be in the obvious ways that are not impacting on anything else but ensure that it is government regulations that cause a start-up to fail via liquidity issues for example. If the company fails it should be because the owner was deluded or a bad businessman… not because of government rules causing a cashflow crisis.

          One thing that mystifies me about Buffet’s little prima donna act is that he’s got it bass-ackwards. The issue is not that he pays 20% on some millions of income… it’s the fact that some of his lower paid employees are paying 33%. Why the heck isn’t he agitating for a lower overall income tax rather than some odd changes to the captial rates that will make more loopholes and encourage even more obscure ways of “avoiding” a fair division? Or for that matter, why doesn’t he instruct his accountants to ensure that his capital is placed such that it attracts normal income tax and not lower capital rates?? It isn’t rocket science and I’d be far more impressed if he was after lowering taxes on his employees rather than agitating class warfare for higher taxes that you know the old guy is going to be ready to avoid anyway.

      • The market compensates for risk, the government shouldn’t. If a person takes a job as a roofer instead of a drywall installer, they get a market premium for the risk, the government doesn’t create the premium in tax policy.

    • @CaptinSarcastic Owners of corporations (shareholders) already pay income tax on the earnings of the company (their company). When dividends are paid or they sell for a capital gain, those earnings are taxed again. I think that’s quite a compelling argument that it is reasonable to tax capital gains at some lower rate. But I’d rather abolish the corporate income tax completely and then tax all income identically.

  • I frankly think that the argument that some of us should pay a vastly higher portion of our income to pay for our government is both bad civics and immoral.

    Of course, under the present tax structure, this involves a high component of income redistribution, which anyone with a libertarian bent should find anathema.

    In a tax system that paid for Constitutional federal government, all citizens should pay the same rate for their LIMITED government.

    • @Ragspierre Perhaps, but frst we would have to consolidate all federal taxes into one tax, then apply that rate to all income. I’d be okay with that. I’d prefer that there were a threshold as I don’t see much point in taxing a family that makes under $35k or a single dependant individual that makes less than $20k, (numbers adjustable) but nothing unfair there, since everyone could get their first x dollars tax free.
      We won’t get that of course, because tax policy is set by elected officials who’s number one job is getting re-elected, and to get re-elected they spend 30% to 70% of their time raising funds, primarily from people who make a lot of money and often from people who want special tax advantages. A million page overly complex tax system works to the benefit of those that want to slide in a clause here and there in exchange for campaign contributions (but nothing so droll as a straight quid-pro-quo, more like an elegant dance) and it’s all legal.
      But it’s nice to see that there is something we can agree on.

    • @Ragspierre I don’t have a huge problem with progressive taxation, I have a problem with oppressive taxation. If, like you say we had a limited government, then the taxes could be low. At that point Some progressivity would not be horrible as it makes sense to some extent to seek revenues from those who can best afford it.


      . The problem is that it is used as a way to punish the wealth creators .

      • @kyle8 Of course I don’t need to point out that a flat tax is guaranteed to collect more from higher incomes since x% of a larger number is a larger percent. A progressive tax is unnecessary and opens the door for endless fiddling and political games. We should all be accountable at the same exact rate, above some poverty threshold.

      • @kyle8 Of course I don’t need to point out that a flat tax is guaranteed to collect more from higher incomes since x% of a larger number is a larger percent. A progressive tax is unnecessary and opens the door for endless fiddling and political games. We should all be accountable at the same exact rate, above some poverty threshold.

  • Perhaps, Buffet should start the ball rolling by having Berkshire Hathaway pay it’s back taxes estimated to be about $1 billion.

    • @Neo_ Gee, you don’t think Buffet’s Collectivist urges have anything to do with THAT…?!?!? Naw, that is TOOOOOOO cynical…

  • I keep coming back to the question … “How much is enough ?” I wish somebody would ask that at the Presidential Debates.

    • @Neo_ You know the answer, whatever the spend. That is the reality of the federal budget, forget tax rates, we are going to pay whatever they spend, and when we don’t pay it as they as they spend, it just means we are going to pay it with interest.