Monday, September 19, 2011

Thanks, Warren, thanks so much.

I'm sure you've all heard of Warren Buffett's comment about how it wasn't fair he was paying less of a percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary did.

While I don't necessarily dispute the unfairness of that situation, I'd solve it in a different way than what Obama has chosen to propose (apparently with Buffett's blessing).

From everything I've read, this new higher tax rate will affect Millionaires, not merely Billionaires.

There are a lot of farm owners who fall into that category. And a lot of ranchers (even with the awful drought in most of the country). And a lot of small-business owners. And a lot of people who do things like operate small factories, machine shops, that sort of thing.

In other words: the people who are the "evil rich" who "need" to be taxed more (so they can "pay their fair share," a phrase that makes me roll my eyes) are the very people who might just, I don't know, create some jobs in the future?

But weren't, because they were concerned about what was coming down the pike in terms of taxes and regulations?

Class warfare is ugly...and I think it's part of the "cold" civil war we are now in. There are enough people in the working and middle class who are easily convinced (if they don't already accept) that "the rich" are like Uncle Moneybags from Monopoly....or like Uncle Scrooge McDuck...who light cigars with $100 bills, and have a vault full of gold coins they swim in...and that they do it JUST TO BE UNFAIR TO THE WORKING STIFFS.

I have seen this. I have seen even fairly well-educated people talk about "the rich" as if they were the robber barons of the 1890s. And while I don't debate that there are some wealthy people who lead rather profligate and in-your-face conspicuous-consumption lives (I cannot, for example, watch an episode of "Real Housewives of Anywhere" without being very put off)...there are also an awful lot of people with money who use it for good. And even some of the people buying $5000 suits and $100,000 cars are using some of their money for good.

(And it's funny, you don't as often see that same hatred of "the rich" directed at sports stars and movie stars - at least, as far as politicians talk about "the rich." I wonder how baseball players and rappers and actresses will feel about seeing their tax rates raised...or do they already have sufficient shelters in place?)

And for that matter - a lot of the small and medium-sized businessmen and women make this country SO much better, regardless of what they do in their personal lives with their disposable income. And I'm not just talking about employment.

When I moved to the small city where I live about 10 years ago, the downtown here was dead. DEAD. There were lots of empty storefronts, there was a dying pharmacy, a couple of antiques shops (but that rarely had anything good; I think the people with the wherewithal to transport their stuff to sell to the bigger cities near us did so, because they knew they'd get a better price). We had a Winn-Dixie and a Wal-Mart and a few other things. And that was IT.

I remember driving to the next biggest city - an hour's round trip - for a stinking LUGGAGE LOCK when I was traveling, because the wal-mart didn't happen to have them, and no one else in town carried them. I could have bought a Master lock from the hardware store - but the hasp wouldn't fit through the holes in the zipper-pull on my suitcase. So I got in the car and drove, cursing the whole way.

Over time, downtown began to get renovated. (I will say that a key part of the change was a change in our alcohol laws - where restaurants can now serve wine or even mixed drinks - before, all they could serve was beer, and it may have even been 3.2 beer at that). A restaurant opened up. It was a GOOD restaurant and it did well. A couple other businesses tried opening and were successful. Now there are more restaurants, more businesses, better businesses. I actually go downtown to shop now instead of planning to drive an hour's round trip to the next largest town. (We still don't have a decent bookstore, but maybe someday...)

Anyway, I don't want to go back to where we were 10 years ago. I don't want to go back to having a grocery store and the wal-mart in town as my choices - or having to drive, or having to mail-order everything. (As much as I love Amazon and use my Amazon Prime membership...still, sometimes it's nice to be able to shop in person).

I don't want to see small businesses close their doors because they got crushed by the government. But I could see that happening.

It's funny. The Republicans always get dinged as "the party of Big Business" but it seems of late, the big businesses, big-box stores seem to be more favored over small businesses by the Democrats in power. (Or at least the big businesses that donate money...)

If I were in charge, what would I do?

First, I'd cut corporate tax rates. At the least, I'd roll them back to 25%, maybe more.

Second, I'd put together a panel with the goal of examining all the regulations out there and finding out which ones could be reduced or eliminated - cut the red tape for small business.

And finally, I'd work on reforming the tax code. I'd probably push for a flat tax with comparatively few deductions - and as a result, lower percentage rates for everybody.

Class warfare is ugly. Even though I'm not rich and will never be (at least not by U.S. standards - as I've said before, by global standards I'm incredibly wealthy, and that's largely because I have things like running water and enough food to eat and a house that I own), I don't like the idea of hating a class of people because they are successful. It smacks of simple, childish envy.

I will say pessimistically that I don't think we'll ever have true tax reform in the U.S. as long as politicians find it expedient to pit different social classes against each other.

(And how strange it least in the past, part of the American dream was that any shmoe who was willing to work hard and who had some good ideas could aspire to become if that dream still exists, that means there are a lot of people who, as part of their aspirations, are going to be hated by politicians. That's strange and sad: become successful and have people speak hatefully of you.)

1 comment:

Dave R. said...

Class warfare has been a staple of the Democratic Party for the past 79 years. If your life isn't going so well, it's always easier to blame other people.

Liberals believe that businesses do well by hoodwinking customers and taking unfair advantage of competitors, and that if you're rich you must be guilty of something nefarious. Conservatives believe that businesses do well by offering superior products or services at reasonable prices, and that if you're rich (and weren't born that way)it's a just reward for hard work and ingenuity.