Warren Buffett is rich; so is Bill Gates. Each has worked hard, accomplished a lot, and profited well. Kudos to them!
Both are extremely generous, too, and have asked other fellow billionaires to do as they have both done—pledge that a minimum of 50% of their wealth go to philanthropy. Mr. Buffett, additionally, the third richest man in the world, has stated that "I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it.” He continued, "The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on." There are at least 40 who have agreed to their request, including one Oklahoman—George B. Kaiser.
Even better, another group of millionaires has sent a letter to President Obama that states, “For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled.
We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.
We have done very well over the last several years. Now, during our nation’s moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share. We don’t need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers. The country needs to meet its financial obligations in a just and responsible way.
Letting tax cuts for incomes over $1,000,000 expire, is an important step in that direction.”
That letter was signed by forty-five individuals or families.
The problem is NOT the rich themselves. Instead, the real problem is that there are too many politicians who cater to the rich who aren’t participating in the ideas listed above, the ones who are the greedy wealthy, the ones who will always want more, and the ones who don’t care about those who aren’t wealthy.
The problem is that 98% of Americans are NOT rich and we’re not being represented well by some legislators. 77.4% of us made less than $74,999, according to the 2000 census. One would think a larger number of our Congressional delegation would think about legislating with us in mind.
More than ever before in our lifetimes, our families and friends are desperate—unsuccessfully seeking jobs, losing their homes, facing possible bankruptcy, unsure where their next meal will come from, unable to provide necessities for their children, are inadequately insured, unskilled, under-educated, and lack adequate savings.
Shared sacrifices? These are the ones who have worked for and helped the ultra-rich make their fortunes while losing their jobs when companies closed and the work was sent overseas, sent their children, spouses, and parents to fight our wars, purchased the goods that make our economy work, had no net increase in income for ten years, endured higher and higher health care costs, rising college tuition for their children, and contributed higher percentages of tax receipts than large corporations.
The wealthy have done well, very well. The rest of us, not so much. The idea of shared sacrifice is great. The middle class and low income families have sacrificed immensely in the past decade. The richest of the rich have not suffered. In fact, they have done extremely well, so well that between 2002 and 2007 the incomes of the top 1% grew more than ten times faster than the income of the bottom 90% of households.
It’s time our legislators said, “Enough sacrificing for the poor and the middle class. They have suffered sufficiently already!”
There are plenty of ways to battle budget deficits without making things worse for the majority of us.