Saturday, February 07, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

The headline alone of this op-ed by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tells the story.
I’M the chief executive of a publicly traded company and, like my peers, I’m very highly paid. The difference between salaries like mine and those of average Americans creates a lot of tension, and I’d like to offer a suggestion. President Obama should celebrate our success, rather than trying to shame us or cap our pay. But he should also take half of our huge earnings in taxes, instead of the current one-third.

Then, the next time a chief executive earns an eye-popping amount of money, we can cheer that half of it is going to pay for our soldiers, schools and security. Higher taxes on huge pay days can finance opportunity for the next generation of Americans.

Ah yes, another one of those lovely "billionaire whines that they should pay more in taxes" stories.
Warren Buffett, the third-richest man in the world, has criticised the US tax system for allowing him to pay a lower rate than his secretary and his cleaner.

Speaking at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52 billion (£26 billion), said: “The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”

My response: Messrs Buffett and Hastings, if you really, really want to give 50% of your assets to the US Treasury, be my guest. You certainly don't need the tax codes to be changed to do that; all you need to do is get a pen and write the damn check.

But of course, you're not doing that. You're getting up in front, you're blustering, you're posturing about how your secretary is (inexplicably) paying a higher tax rate than you are, but every April 15th, you're still only paying your 17.7% or whatever rate.

Put your money where your mouth is. If you want to pay 50% of your assets in taxes, pay it. No one's stopping you. No one's complaining. But if you did, that would actually require you to pay what you're demanding of others, and as we see from Daschle, Rangel, Franken, Solis, Geithner, and Obama, that is the last thing any good Obama Party member is ever going to do.

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