Monday, August 15, 2011

Part of the Problem

As one of the self-described “mega-rich” in this country, Warren Buffett tries to make a compelling case regarding the inequality of tax laws and “other blessings” which he complains “are showered upon us by legislators in Washington” in today's New York Times.

 “Most wouldn't mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering,” he states of his fellow ultra wealthy brethren.  

Where is the controversy here? More importantly, where is the connection?  It's as if Mr. Buffett thinks that our economy can be fixed by throwing more money into the government coffers! Then do it, Mr. Buffett! No one is stopping you or your really swell mega-rich compatriots from giving all of your money away!  This will hardly make a dent in our national debt. But go ahead! Go for it! That's your choice. And your personal choice is not news.

The newsworthiness of this piece lies in the fact that people like Mr. Buffett – in ideology rather than necessary wealth – think they can decide who, by virtue of his wealth, should pay more, give more, sacrifice more to keep the state running. This appeal to our shared sacrifice in feeding the beast of big government completely disregards the proper function of government: the protection of individual rights and its manifest equality for each individual under the law. I don't know enough about tax laws to suggest that he is wrong about the percentages of taxes paid; however, by implying that rich people – as defined by whomever is making the statement at the time – owe a greater percentage because they are rich, and worse, supporting the idea that the proper role of the government of the United States of America is to determine how much wealth is too much wealth, Mr. Buffett is part of the problem, not the solution.

He begins his slippery slope of “pain” distribution with the 400 “mega-rich” – of whom he is a part, thereby lending his claims an air of noble leadership rather than the naked arrogation they are – and ends with the over 200,000 households he suggests aren’t paying enough taxes by stating, “It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Mr. Buffett is apparently an excellent investor, but, like our President, has the putrid soul of a collectivist.

It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.

Ayn Rand “The Soul of a Collectivist,” For the New Intellectual, 73 (via the Ayn Rand Lexicon)

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