It is intrinsic within our culture to admire, marvel, and glean wisdom from those personalities which demonstrate and reveal the outer limits of our possibilities and our opportunities. For those of us coming up from behind, the lofty ruminations provide energy and force for the fantasies we intend to convert to truth.
Many of today’s billionaires have been born to opportunity, to lawyers and wealthy professionals, to real estate and media moguls, to politicians familiar and close to power. This group seems to embrace a collective social responsibility for inequities it ascertains to exist. Because of its stature, this group holds a disproportional influence in the promulgation of American policy.
I was not born so fortunate to possess a great head start by having wealthy parents or those in such close proximity to the seat of government power that I might spring ahead because of the special influence. However, I was quite fortunate indeed; I was born an American.
My grandparents and great-grandparents were Italian and German immigrants who came to this land for America’s promise of opportunity. Aside from my fondness for Italian food, in only two generations, any connection to my ancestral home has been completely diminished. What has been lost, however, has been replaced by what has been gained.
My father’s father and mother lived in the United States with the humble, but optimistic dream of a better life. What has taken these two generations to percolate through and incite my personality is American audacity. I believe, Mr. Buffett, I can become as wealthy as you.
What superlative quality I have that suggests such audacity, I cannot tell you. In fact, the audacity is not bound up in me; it is a quality inherent in America. That anyone can become anybody is the core of American culture, it is America’s promise.
It strikes me as quite ironic that a man who has amassed such wealth and success would rail against the free-enterprise system which has enabled the acquisition of such wealth. The media’s love affair with your recent journey into philanthropy belies and hides the real greatness you are responsible for. The good that comes from building business in terms of productivity and opportunity for the greatest number of people can never be matched by philanthropic generosity which does not demand the strenuous effort accompanied by investment’s expectation of performance. Many economists would suggest your philanthropic generosity will actually do good for far less people than might be accomplished by the sharp application of your capital and business wit.
I understand one of the jets you fly around in bears the title Indefensible, suggesting your humility, and embarrassment you somehow endure for your vast wealth. What I cannot reconcile is your endorsement of presidential candidates whose express purpose is to enact legislation and policy which will make it impossible for future Americans from humble beginnings to ascertain the noble accomplishments which have earned you esteem. This course clearly cements and protects your historic legacy, but what does it do for America?
As a stock trader you know better than anyone, it is not reality which moves man, but man’s estimation of reality which moves him. If it is immoral to become as wealthy as Warren Buffett, it must certainly be immoral to fantasize about it. If fantasy is immoral how do we expect to move man?
If it is your position that government should regulate, curtail, and penalize success because of its conceived recognition of inequity, then it is your position that government shall be arbiter of what is and of what can be.
Fantasy no longer resides within the individual; it shall emanate and be assigned by government.
I am quite certain this was not what the Founder’s intended when they severed ties to mother England to make a more perfect Union, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Why do you?
James V. Pontillo II
In recent public speeches to Berkshire-Hathaway stockholders and others, Warren Buffett has repeatedly expressed disdain for U.S. tax policy which unfairly allows billionaires to pay far lower tax rates than individuals within his employment who make less than $100,000.00 per year.
His contempt for these policies might seem sensible, however, his rhetoric is disingenuous and by enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, Mr. Buffett suggests guys like him would pay a fairer share of the tax burden were they elected. The answer is not to tax billionaires more, but middle income people less.
Every tax proposal suggested by these candidates attacks the middle class person making 300-500K per year and does nothing to further tax these ultra-wealthy individuals; they won’t either because these billionaires have the resources to move their investments and find preferable business climates with better tax rates in many places throughout the world.
Mr. Buffett is deliberately dishonest, partisan, and obfuscates facts which illuminate proven economic realities: Namely, when people are over-taxed they change their behavior and this changed behavior hurts our economy. Punitive tax policies do not guarantee increased revenue flow to the government; generally revenue is reduced because people will simply not pay taxes they feel are unjust (Google Laffer curve). Ultimately, jobs and opportunities for the poor are the first economic casualties of these policies the poor whom Mr. Buffett professes he wants to help.
The estate tax (death tax) has been enthusiastically encouraged by Mr. Buffett and he has been quoted as saying, I don’t think you should get a lifetime of food stamps based upon which womb you come out of. Meanwhile, his children stand to inherit a measly one billion dollars from his vast fortune while those frugal families with a small businesses worth a few million dollars cannot pass them on to their children because the estate taxes are so harsh they decimate the ability of these businesses to continue under family ownership.
Somehow Warren Buffett and other ultra-rich liberals have convinced themselves that money passed on to offspring is evil and counter-productive, yet money passed on through philanthropy is admirable and beneficial, and money confiscated by government is just and the only answer to right the wrongs inherent in capitalist society.
These philosophies go against every tenet of our American heritage, and they are not just obscene, they are criminal.