Warren Buffett puts other people’s money where his mouth is

posted at 8:40 am on January 12, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Warren Buffett has been a very successful man in terms of high finance, no doubt about it. But of late he has become even more famous for insisting that tax rates on mega-successful people like himself are too low. He’s just not paying his fair share. His poor, beleaguered secretary – possibly the most famous administrative assistant in the world at this point – pays a higher rate than he does.

The conservative response to this has been fairly consistent and runs somewhat along these lines: “OK. You’re not paying enough? Pay more. There’s a convenient box you can check off on your tax forms. Send in as much as you like.

Well, apparently the message has gotten through. Warren is ready to step out boldly and pitch in some extra cash to help pay off the country’s massive debt. Good for you, sir! Oh… wait. That’s not quite what he’s doing.

Business mogul Warren Buffett is promising to match any donation Republican members make toward cutting the national deficit.

And he upped the ante when it came to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying he would match the leader’s donations three-to-one.

His pledge comes after McConnell said that if Buffett is feeling guilty about not paying more in taxes, he should just send in a check.

“With regard to his tax rate, if he’s feeling guilty about it, I think he should send in a check,” McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in September.

Buffett told Time magazine: “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions. And, I’ll even go three for one for McConnell.”

Allow me to break out a newly sharpened goose quill and a nice, crisp sheet of velum.

Dear Mr. Buffett,

I’ll never claim to be as smart as you. If I were, my net worth would probably be something more than .000001% of yours. You’re also a fine man who demonstrates the benefits of a free capitalist system. But regarding your recent offer to pay extra taxes, I fear that you may be missing the central theme.

When we said you could pay extra taxes should you wish, we weren’t talking about some sort of marathon charity to benefit muscular dystrophy. If we were, then maybe your idea of matching other people’s contributions might make sense. But the idea here would be for you to lead by example, you see. You need to go first. Who knows? Then perhaps others might jump on the bandwagon. Then again, maybe not. Some of us, you see, aren’t just obsessed over the marginal rate or how much the government takes, but rather with how they spend it once they get it. Some of your wealthy colleagues might be a bit more inclined to kick in a few extra bucks if Washington could demonstrate some level of restraint and responsibility when it comes to managing the public purse.

Also, if it’s not too bold of me to say, you’re turning this into something of a dog and pony show. What you’re proposing to do really is charity of a sort… charitable contributions to an out of control government. And you know what the Good Book has to say about charity, right? We can turn to Matthew 6:1

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

See? You don’t need to go on TV and talk about it. If you feel compelled to write a check, just write it. Everyone will feel better.



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