Well, my hero is up to his usual tricks again. Every few years, Warren Buffett makes a statement saying the taxes on rich people in the United States are too low, and he deserves and would be willing to pay more. This time he has backed it up by mentioning that many of his super-rich friends feel the same way (Bill Gates is actually one of them).
Hooray for these guys, for telling it like it is. I actually find it bizarre that any rich person would be against paying at least enough taxes to let the country run in a smooth and deficit-free way with roughly the current level (or slightly higher) of public services. Less war spending and more replace-the-oil spending, of course but overall the level seems fine. Our tax load is so light at this current all-time-low record, it is almost unnoticeable.
After all, once you’ve got enough for yourself, your next goal for your money should be increased welfare of the world around you. This also happens to be the type of spending that gives people the most long-term pleasure so you don’t even have to be particularly self-sacrificing to do it.
If you know anything about Warren Buffett, you know that he’s all about the good of his country and of humanity in general. He has no reason to be selfish, and he has found that the more generous and honest he is, the richer the world makes him. Unfortunately, generosity and honesty alone do not make you a billionaire, but if you’re going to be in business working with other humans, especially on a big scale, you usually get further in the long run by not being a douchebag. Not many people realize this, because news coverage of rich douchebags is very thorough, but overall, having integrity pays.
I would like to speak up, as a member of the Middle Class, and say that I’m willing to pay a bit more in taxes too. We all should be willing. Not a shitload more, so that I can’t even afford a house anymore, but say one or two thousand dollars more per year – a boost of about 25% of what I pay now, would be quite affordable. Most Middle Class folks don’t realize this, because they are currently stuck spending most of their money on interest payments for expensive cars and the like. But once they wise up and realize that they have about 300% more income than they actually need to live, they too might feel a little better about taxes.
The key is having our tax money used efficiently. Being an engineer, I get pissed off when I see wasted resources. And the government, over the years, has certainly wasted plenty of resources. But on the other hand, the competition for the government is pretty easy to beat. Middle-class person buying an SUV and a bunch of fries and high-fructose corn syrup at McDonald’s: 100% waste. Government subsidizing university tuitions: far less than 100% waste. I think that as long as we keep the government out of businesses that the private sector could provide more efficiently (designing products, for example), but use them in places where the private sector has been proven to suck (preserving groundwater quality, or providing national health insurance, for example), we will come out ahead. I think all spending should be published in great detail and easily be auditable by the public, as Obama has been doing if you look into it. And all public sector workers responsible for a budget of more than $100 of the taxpayer’s precious money must first have a mandatory consultation with Adm Karpinsk himself on the principles of efficient money spending.
Then we’ll truly be a rich country.