I keep hearing the phrase “out of bullets” from pundits who discuss what options might be available to the central planning crowd in dealing with the economy. It would be nice if these planners’ guns would be totally out of bullets. Unfortunately, as long as central planning ideology maintains its firm grip on politicians and bureaucrats, there will always be more bullets. The only way to stop the bullets is to take away the gun.
Since that doesn't look to happen anytime soon, I'll focus on the "bullet" suggested most frequently of late...
This class warfare battle cry is getting progressively louder (pun intended). It's not that we have a spending problem or anything. We just need to tax the rich more. Yep, that'll fix everything.
Some people who believe in central planning are also apparently suicidal. Or, at least, in talking a big game about "eating the rich", they sound like they are. If a confiscatory tax structure for "upper income brackets" is energetically supported by "the rich" as a cure-all for our debt problems, isn't that a weird form of self-cannibalization?
Sorry for that mental image - perhaps I'd better stick with the bullets analogy. Advocating for taxing "the rich", if you're one of them, evokes the image of a guy standing in front of a firing squad shouting, "Shoot me!"
Anyone else skeptical about such contradictions?
I can think of no better example of the seemingly suicidal, than the so-called "Oracle of Omaha", Warren Buffett. He seems to be talking incessantly these days about taxing the rich more.
Of course Buffett's most recent round of "eat the rich" advocacy which has generated buzz is only that -- his most recent. He's been advocating for confiscatory taxation for a long time. This recent round was set off by an August 14th New York Times' Op Ed piece entitled "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich". In it, he goes out of his way to make the case that the country was actually more prosperous at times when taxation on higher brackets was even more progressive than it is currently, that capital gains tax rates will hurt no one, and that none of his super-rich friends stops from engaging in a business deal because of the tax consequences.
Mr. Buffett has been irritatingly verbose in the past month. The more he has talked, the more interested I've become. What begam to pique my curiosity were the inconsistencies between his business decisions and his quasi-suicidal policy positions. While I've learned a great deal that clears up most of the apparent inconsistencies, the specific issue of Mr. Buffett advocating for confiscatory taxation for "super-rich" people like himself cannot be rationally explained.
Regardless of the reason, one simple fact remains that my 13 year old put in the most succinct terms:
"If the guy wants to pay more taxes, why doesn't he just write a check to the government?"
Actions speak louder than words, though, don't they? Buffet betrays his desire to be a central planner by advocating for public policy, which is law, which in turn is ultimately, force. He wants to use government force to take money away from people and allow government planners to determine how it is spent.
Again, actions speak louder than words. Buffett has used the available laws to structure his own estate to distribute his wealth as he sees fit.
It's free choice and control of property for me, but not for thee.
Warren Buffett needs, for once and for all, to whip out his check book and write a big fat one to the IRS for the amount of his choosing. Or not. I freely wish him the ability to make choices with his money, even if he doesn't want to allow others to do the same.
Either way, he really needs to pipe down, permanently, on this particular subject.
But I think he needs to go quietly into that good night on all subjects pertaining to public policy. Of course he is free to avail himself of his right to free speech. But, I, and anyone else, in turn, are free to tell him to hush up.
Whether or not his advocacy for taxing the daylights out of "the super-rich" seems illogical, not even all that bright, and perhaps even slightly crazy, I happen to think that the man, if crazy, is crazy like a fox. In the next few days, I hope to show why. Stay tuned.