Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sport moneymaking is like sport trout fishing. Unfortunately most of the fishermen eat (or mount) what they catch.

So Warren Buffett has announced that he’s turning most of his $44 billion-or-so fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where it’ll do lots of good. [See: http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/25/magazines/fortune/charity1.fortune/index.htm]

I’m truly glad to hear the news. But I would have been even happier if the U.S. Government had already taxed away most of that money and put it to work for purposes that the public had directly or at least indirectly voted for.

And no, I don’t have it in for Warren Buffett. Among the world’s billionaires and multi-multi-millionaires, he’s the best of a thimbleful of good guys.

Buffett made his money by thinking smart and talking straight. I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down he believes in higher taxation for the superrich himself.

It's a delight breezing through the annual reports from Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company he heads. There’s none of the puffery and obfuscating gobbledygook that characterizes most annual reports that try to downplay obscene salaries for top execs while the stockholders take a bath.

When Buffett occasionally blows it, he says he blew it, no excuses. When the future outlook is grim, he says it’s grim. When he brings home the bacon, he does so with a convincing joie de vivre that tells the world he’s making money essentially for the sheer joy of it. Making money is his sport.

Now he’s now throwing back what he caught, like a good sports fisherman. But far too many of his co-billionaires seem intent on keeping as much money for themselves as they can.

Their greed glands are hyperactive. Their idea of fun is in knowing they have tons of money and you don’t. Often their technique for getting their rocks off involves taking the money from someone else – through reverse income distribution disguised as “tax simplification,” firing the employees (remember the CEO known as “Chainsaw Al?”) stiffing the stockholders, or some other ruse.

Inheritance taxes? They whine and call it a “death tax.” Baloney, pal. There is no tax on death and never was. That’s a Republican lie, designed to rile you up so you’ll favor laws that essentially rip off America. The only tax is on inheritances over $2,000,000. Thanks to a Republican Congress, even that’s on the verge of going up in a puff of smoke. [http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0627/p01s05-uspo.html]

The consequence is, the filthy rich get filthier, while the average slob struggles to keep his head above water.

Thank you, Warren and Bill, for at least being good sports.

As for the rest of you megabucks scrooges, go jump in a vault.

1 comment:

Buce said...

Looks to me like Buffett is playing "catch and release."