In 2007, the Washington Post reported, “Warren Buffet Slams Tax System Disparities“, reporting:
Warren E. Buffett was his usual folksy self Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as he slammed a system that allows the very rich to pay taxes at a lower rate than the middle class.
Buffett cited himself, the third-richest person in the world, as an example. Last year, Buffett said, he was taxed at 17.7 percent on his taxable income of more than $46 million. His receptionist was taxed at about 30 percent.
Last week, Buffett himself wrote an Op-Ed in the NY Times asking the government to “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich“. Buffett wrote,
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
A number of writers have already pointed out that no one is stopping Mr. Buffett and the other “Super-Rich” from increasing their own levels of shared sacrifice. The Daily Caller and Wall Street Journal provide two examples. He doesn’t need to wait for Uncle Sam to come looking for his money. In fact, one could make the argument that his contribution to government would be more meaningful if he gives it voluntarily, instead of waiting to be coerced into it.
Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Buffett’s words are just that — words. His actions belie them. In 2006, just a year before “Slamming the tax system”, Buffett was singing a different tune. At that time, Fortune magazine reported,
Buffett has pledged to gradually give 85% of his Berkshire stock to five foundations. A dominant five-sixths of the shares will go to the world’s largest philanthropic organization, the $30 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose principals are close friends of Buffett’s (a connection that began in 1991, when a mutual friend introduced Buffett and Bill Gates).
So with 85% of his fortune safely tucked away out of Uncle Sam’s reach, -now- Mr. Buffett tells us he wants to participate more in the shared sacrifice. If Mr. Buffett has so much faith in the government to use his money wisely, why did he give 85% of his wealth to private charity? Why didn’t he give that money to Uncle Sam? And why does he now want other Americans denied the same opportunity that he and Mr. Gates had, to build their own fortunes and distribute from them to the causes that they found worthiest at times and places of their own choosing?
Mr. Buffett wants us to believe that he stands behind Uncle Sam as a steward of our money, but his actions show us what he really thinks. Good stewardship of resources is provided by the private sector, not by Uncle Sam, and whatever Mr. Buffett might have to say on the topic, his actions show that he knows it.