Open Letter to Warren Buffett: Paying your fair share, Part II


Dear Mr. Buffet,


You must have the hugest brain on this planet. It would be no exaggeration that you are the Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton of the financial engineering world, particularly as regards the complex arithmetic of tax calculations. I know the math is less involved than, say, in Quantum Gravity, but the way you are able to shift huge parts of the tax burden you would normally be expected to pay to everyone else is just so clever. Happily all those lesser minds in the 99% will be there to fill the gap of funding all those wasteful social programs like medicare, social security, food stamps, unemployment insurance and so on. Not to mention, of course, all that other stuff that needs money and that you probably don’t really care about, like road maintenance, since your helicopters probably don’t use them, and sanitation, since you probably have your own arrangements, perhaps just being really cool and cleverly tossing your stuff into a public bin.

So what if maybe the pleebs won’t be able to scrape together enough to make up the whole shortfall, as your companies have been paying them less and less. So they might only have enough for part of the missing tax dollars. Nothing to worry about, It’ll be years before those yokels notice the rotting overpasses slowly crumbling about their heads or the higher crime rates as their neighbourhoods deteriorate.

You sure had me fooled and, of course, somewhat disappointed, as my belief in the evil of the plutocracy that runs the world had been momentarily shaken. That among the oligarchy there was a dissenter, someone genuinely concerned with fairness and the prosperity of the common man and woman, was quite a surprise. What a relief. All your ranting about paying a fair share of the total tax bill, something equivalent, at the very least, to your secretary, was obviously just for show. Of course I’m not implying here that she makes as much money as you. I’m talking here about rates, where you pay at least the same proportion of your income in taxes as she does. For example, if she earns 40 thousand dollars and pays 10 thousand in taxes you should pay about 2 billion.

I’m sure you probably laughed your brains out, and you really have a lot of those so not to worry that they get too used up, when you read my advice to you on how easy it is to pay your fair share of taxes. I hope you shared it with your friends, and I don’t mean the Facebook variety, but the crowd you run with at Davos. I’m sure they would have gotten a good yuk out of the notion of fairness, thinking “how the f&%/ would I have gotten here on that kind of fairness strategy.”

Well that was definitely a false alarm. There’s no way you and your buddies would ever do something so stupid as give up part of your meagre billions to put some in the hands of the masses by paying your fair share of taxes. They wouldn’t know what to do with it, those 99%, other than maybe some nice housing, better foods, a vacation now and then. They wouldn’t be investing it so cleverly as to multiply their riches and so add to national wealth so that a little trickles down to everyone else. Or would they ever be so creative with the tax code as to make sure that the underserving government gets less of their hard earned money. It’s best that those earnings go to you and your buddies who know how to use the stuff.

I guess I was being a little naïve to think you were being serious about this “paying your fair share thing” when I wrote my first open letter to you.  I must admit that I didn’t fully understand the details in the piece “Berkshire deal shows off Buffett’s tax acumen,” but they sure look awesome, that maze of transactions between your companies to limit taxes on more than one billion dollars in gains. But now I’m ashamed of the simplicity of my advice to you on how to pay your fair share of taxes by just filling out an income tax form and saying how much you earned and then paying the amount that comes out at the end of the form. You probably knew all that and giggled uncontrollably at my innocence. At least I may have succeeded in amusing you.

Well, Mr. Buffett, one day people will finally say, like they’ve done so often in the past, enough is enough. We no longer buy into the American Dream and believe that we really have a snowball in hell’s chance of ever becoming as rich as Mr. Buffett. We see ourselves getting poorer and poorer and it’s probably because the 1% is trickling down less and less as it gets more and more attached to a growing share of a shrinking pie. Now that’s something that even you should be able to understand and perhaps explain to your buddies. It’s OK to be fabulously wealthy but it’s not OK to want ever more because that eventually makes everyone else poorer.


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