It is a sign of how truly leaderless we are, from Congress to the White House, that people are slobbering over a billionaire's declaration that the rich should pay more in taxes. Well, duh.
But, let me be one voice who cautions, at the sight of so many puppies rolling over in joy looking for a little scratch on the tummy, about promoting false prophets whose basic message is this: those of us who have become fabulously rich should throw the rest of the poor slobs a few bucks BUT we should not eviscerate the deeply corrupt economic system that got us here.
Rather than be thankful, we should be sounding the bells about the phoniness and great danger from a new false prophet who is selling a tinkering of the bankrupt "free market".
The easiest, softball critical point to raise is that Warren Buffett does not say a thing about how HIGH the taxes for the rich should go. As everyone bows down to thank Buffet, can we wonder what is meant by this:
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
What is that number, oh generous Oracle of Omaha? The pathetically low Clinton-era rates? Or are we talking about something significant, say, a minimum 50 percent rate for those at $10 million? Crickets.
But, for the sake of argument and generosity of spirit, I'm willing to just throw the munificent Oracle a bone and say he was being bold.
BUT...The siren bells should still be ringing--and it is truly scary that they are not. Where do I begin?
POINT ONE. Buffett regurgitates the false myth that there is adebt or deficit "crisis". If you raise up Buffett, you also buy this deeply dangerous call for the Catfood Commission II to shred what remains of our safety net:
Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here.
Complete and utter nonsense. Dangerous nonsense. If the chattering opinion makers, aided by liberal-progressive bloggers, elevate Buffett's argument, it is a Trojan Horse package that says, "Throw the masses a few bucks so the poor and middle-class can slip a few dollars into their left pocket--but take away those bucks and more by digging into their right pocket."
A rich America can fulfill its promises--and more. I believe, actually, that we should INCREASE Social Security benefits at least by 15 percent for the next 20 years to make up for the trillions of dollars that people lost in their IRA's because of the financial crisis engineered by too many people on Wall Street.
But, Buffett is fueling the dangerous sharpening of knives ready to cut Social Security and Medicare--and further undermine the idea that we should have decent pensions.
POINT TWO. Tax the filthy rich is not a long-term solution for the country if it does not come with:
A call for broad unionization. What led us to the crisis we got into was a relentless attack, for 30-40 years, on peoples' wages, made possible by a broad assault on the labor movement engineered mainly by Buffett's friends and their peers.
People who don't have decent paychecks are forced to rely on credit--whether the plastic kind or via elusive home equity. That is not a long-term sustainable economic strategy. This seems self-evident.
Unions are the only way out of that mess.
Buffett on that point. Crickets.
POINT THREE. "The friends in high places" Buffett refers to are also those, in both parties, who are happy to pimp for foolish so-called "free trade". I'd almost--almost--be willing to argue for modest hikes on the rich IN EXCHANGE for a pledge to repeal every NAFTA-style trade deal in favor of a sane global trade strategy.
What is "sane trade"? Trade not based on lowering wages.
In fairness to Buffett, he isn't the only one who is clueless about the destructive nature of so-called "free trade"--he shares that distinction with our current president, past presidents of both parties, false liberal prophets like Robert Reich and a long line of dopes.
I guess I could throw in Buffett's failure to link taxing the rich to the failure to throw a whole bunch of the Wall Street thieves who cost us trillions dollar in wealth and millions of jobs, or his failure to demand fully publicly financed elections so Congress would stop coddling the rich.
But, the overall point is obvious. Buffett is the fox in the chicken coop--no, better than that...he's not sly, he's "Warren the folksy billionaire who cares about regular folk". But, the upshot is the same: keep the same basic system of the discredited "free market" in place.