During the past few years Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have taken an admirable leadership role in urging their fellow billionaires and multi-millionaires to donate their vast fortunes to charity when they die. They have advocated returning their wealth to the people rather than simply enriching their heirs.
It is a noble and uplifting gesture and many of the super wealthy have committed to putting huge charitable donations in their will. All across the United States and around the world charities are monitoring the health of Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates and many more.
The weeping and gnashing of teeth that you hear would be coming from the heirs who are being denied the opportunity to become junior Midases.
While there is no denying the nobility of donating one’s fortune to charity at death, there is certainly no sacrifice involved. In fact, it could be argued that the only sacrifice that is being made is the sacrifice that is imposed upon the would-be heirs and heiresses of the wealthy who are typically being asked to scrape by on a measly $50 million for the rest of their lives.
While battling world poverty and global misery are noble causes indeed, I am suggesting that these crusading Croesuses remember the axiom about charity beginning at home.
I am, of course, referring to the burgeoning financial crisis in the United States. It is causing some members of Congress and state legislatures across the country to contend that government can not only no longer afford to feed the hungry, house the homeless or help the helpless. Some like Governor Walker of Wisconsin have gone so far as to state that governments cannot even pay public employees fair, negotiated wages.
The reason for this Scrooge-like approach to government and the public it is meant to serve is the budget deficit, especially at the federal level. There are many reasons for the multi-trillion dollar deficit – cash bleeding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that total almost 2 decades in the aggregate, herculean efforts to prop up the economy after the magic tricks of Wall Street ran out of magic and……………….tax cuts to the wealthy.
Most of the federal deficit is derived from the wars started by George W. Bush and…….the tax cuts to the wealthy. The new additions to the deficit during the Obama years have been due to efforts to bring about an economic recovery and……tax cuts to the wealthy.
That would be wealthy people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. That would be billionaires and miega-millionairs who seemingly can’t wait to die so that they can give away their billions and millions.
These would be the same billionaires who seem to think that paying their fair share of taxes while living wouldn’t be fair.
There is simply no hope in hoping that Congress will get the will to impose fair taxes on the wealthy so that veterans won’t be homeless and poor children will not be denied food and pre-school education.
The G.O.Tea Party stalwarts in Congress would rather see job training centers closed and health clinics shuttered than face the horrific notion of billionaires scraping by with a few million dollars less every year.
Perhaps the fact that the majority of the incoming Republican freshmen members of Congress are millionaires or the fact that virtually all of the United States Senators are millionaires has something to do with their cult-like adherence to protecting the loot of the rich.
Whatever the case, this change will certainly not come from Capitol Hill.
So I am proposing that, in teaching eleemosynary and selfless behavior to their fellow lords of the manor, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett take the lead in getting billionaires and millionaires to push for real tax reform.
Instead of refusing to pay taxes, the plutocracy of America can direct their tax advisors and counselors of evasion to waive deductions and reductions in their tax bills. They could also summon their Congressional representatives and demand that they take action.
Congress will never act on its own on this issue. President Obama has already been smeared as a socialist just for saving hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the auto and financial service industries. He has prudently avoided being labeled a card carrying communist by not taking the lead on this aspect of tax reform.
This version of tax reform – the wealthy doing the unthinkable, actually paying taxes at the same rate of someone making $50,000 per year, is an idea whose time has come.
Larry Ellison might have one less yacht, Oprah Winfrey might have one less Maybach, Michael Bloomberg might have a slightly smaller jet in his private fleet – but somehow I think that they can make it.
Just think. Rather than waiting until they die so that they can feel better about themselves, the wealthy can hear the applause and acclaim for their selflessness while they are still alive to enjoy it.