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Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dionne-why-conservatives-hate-warren-buffett/2011/09/28/gIQAxmne5K_story.html?hpid=z3

 

....Militant conservatives are effective because they are absolutely shameless....Buffett’s sin is that he spoke a truth that conservatives want to keep covered up....He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax...it is common sense, not class jealousy, to ask the most fortunate to pay taxes at higher tax rates than other people do. It is for this heresy that Buffett is being harassed.

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That there is a "national conversation" is testimony to the efficacy of the constant brainwash that moneyed interests and their favorite corruptees (republican congressmen) hammer on the public.  Something as evident, simple and logical (though very mild )  as the "Buffett Rule" should  be immediately accepted not discussed.  Fortunately the generally naive public is no dupe on this one as the polls show.

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That there is a "national conversation" is testimony to the efficacy of the constant brainwash that moneyed interests and their favorite corruptees (republican congressmen) hammer on the public.  Something as evident, simple and logical (though very mild )  as the "Buffett Rule" should  be immediately accepted not discussed.  Fortunately the generally naive public is no dupe on this one as the polls show.

Don't be silly. If it was evident it wouldn't be discussed. Your personal moral axioms are not universal. For democrats many people seem remarkably ignorant of how democratic discourse and decision-making works. Repeating how evil and stupid everyone who values things differently is won't help. Insisting that an issue shouldn't even be discussed is so authoritarian it sends shivers down my spine.

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That there is a "national conversation" is testimony to the efficacy of the constant brainwash that moneyed interests and their favorite corruptees (republican congressmen) hammer on the public.  Something as evident, simple and logical (though very mild )  as the "Buffett Rule" should  be immediately accepted not discussed.  Fortunately the generally naive public is no dupe on this one as the polls show.

Don't be silly. If it was evident it wouldn't be discussed. Your personal moral axioms are not universal. For democrats many people seem remarkably ignorant of how democratic discourse and decision-making works. Repeating how evil and stupid everyone who values things differently is won't help. Insisting that an issue shouldn't even be discussed is so authoritarian it sends shivers down my spine.

Ok I am guessing you are not in favor of the Buffett rule and you also take umbrage with his commentary about corrupt congressmen , what part of the debate are you adding to by calling the poster silly and democrats ignorant.  Democracy and politics are just systems to get the other guy to pay for stuff and the rich have been winning this battle since the Reagan was in the White house. What sends shivers up MY spine is the where this is all heading if reasonable men and women are not listened to because I can imagine it will not be a very nice place. 
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That there is a "national conversation" is testimony to the efficacy of the constant brainwash that moneyed interests and their favorite corruptees (republican congressmen) hammer on the public.  Something as evident, simple and logical (though very mild )  as the "Buffett Rule" should  be immediately accepted not discussed.  Fortunately the generally naive public is no dupe on this one as the polls show.

Don't be silly. If it was evident it wouldn't be discussed. Your personal moral axioms are not universal. For democrats many people seem remarkably ignorant of how democratic discourse and decision-making works. Repeating how evil and stupid everyone who values things differently is won't help. Insisting that an issue shouldn't even be discussed is so authoritarian it sends shivers down my spine.

Ok I am guessing you are not in favor of the Buffett rule and you also take umbrage with his commentary about corrupt congressmen , what part of the debate are you adding to by calling the poster silly and democrats ignorant.  Democracy and politics are just systems to get the other guy to pay for stuff and the rich have been winning this battle since the Reagan was in the White house. What sends shivers up MY spine is the where this is all heading if reasonable men and women are not listened to because I can imagine it will not be a very nice place.

I don't take issue with the notion that politicians are corrupt, no. But they are more corrupted by the system of democracy, which incorporates rent-seeking, public choice problems from all different kinds of important lobby and voter groups than single-handedly by big business.

 

By merit of numbers it's completely obvious that the middle-class is the most coddled group in a modern democracy. That's why we have loads of regulated businesses, minimum wages, protectionism etc etc. The rich comes only a good second before the distant third that is the lower classes, who always are adversely effected by government regulations (and then handed down some alms to keep the real problems of policies from the view of the middle-class). The prime example on this would be the war on drugs in most western countries. Middle-class parents want to prevent their kids from exposure to drugs, and may succeed to some extent, but that happens at the expense of millions of poor people being unnecessarily killed or jailed.

 

But anyways, all that is beside my point. If you consider yourself a democrat (in both senses of the word) I find it ignorant to say that some issues should not be discussed. It seems like that is a controversial statement but I find it hard to see why.

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Something as evident, simple and logical (though very mild )  as the "Buffett Rule" should  be immediately accepted not discussed. 

 

Statements like this make me appreciate, once again, that there is a constitution in place that protects against those in power who would act, or are tempted to act, without restriction.

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The name of the article itself tells you it is written with a partisan tone.  I think it misses a bigger point that making sure that gov't money is spent well is as if not more important than where it is available for least pain (which is what I think Buffett's argument is).  In addition, both sides have there rent-seeking crowds.  On one side you have politically connected corporations on the other public sector unions.  Both need to be rained in for the good of all (as pointed out in the Michael Lewis article).  Traditionally, these groups would align themselves with a political party for protection.  This is where I think the media can provide a value-added service (identifying rent seeking groups trying to game the system) versus trying to blame liberals or conservatives for the wrongs of the world.

 

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I think its the wrong question. Conservatives simple hate higher taxes, Buffett is just cannon fodder.

 

I'll readily admit I am a conservative.  I don't inherently hate higher taxes, but I do hate wasteful spending and the knee jerk reaction by many to call for higher taxes whenever there is a deficit, when what we need first is a thorough review of current spending to see if it is effective.  Only then should higher taxes be proposed.   

 

Dionne says in his article:

"He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax."

 

I would argue that these three points are not so obvious.  (1) I think their is a stronger case that the tax system is more biased against capital (through a corporate tax and then dividend tax) than it is against labor.  (2) The IRS statistics show that the wealthy pay a higher effective income tax rate than the middle or upper middle class.  (3) What really annoys me is seeing the regressive nature of the payroll tax as a negative.  Of course it is.  It was designed that way and should be if it is going to be viewed as a "retirement plan."    The Social Security system has actually been slowly tweeked to be progressive in recent years (meaning that it is designed for the poor make out the best in the system, although what actually happens is different due to life expectancy). 

 

Via the Earned Income Tax Credit the poor actually receive their Social Security contributions back.  How is that fair?  Does the poor have a right to get something for nothing?  It is not an inherent right, or a matter of fairness.  It is the generosity of the wealthy.  To see a right in what is really a gift is sad.  To argue that the middle class is getting shortchanged is ridiculous as well.  The middle class (and I am one) are still net beneficiaries in our society.  Instead of hating the rich, the poor and middle class should be thankful for them.

 

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Tim there are people who run the Republican party whose main goal is the reduction of taxes, and who have said they will not raise taxes regardless of the situation. I agree with you on spending, and on the poor and middle class, but a rational conversation is simple not possible with many of the leaders of the GOP. 10 to 1 taxes to spending isnt enough, and they are still trying to reduce rates and taxes for their constituents.

 

Its fine a policy, but is annoying when they then complain about the deficit which they are contributing to. Perhaps I should have said Republicans instead of Conservatives.....

 

Either way rational Munger / Reagan conservatives, are basically a dying breed. They have ceded the party to the crazies inmo.

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I disagree.  I agree the loudest group are the extremists on both sides (don't raise taxes no matter what and hands off entitlements).  The media is naturally attracted to the extremes to get a story which makes the situation worse. 

 

However, to say the Repubs are taken over by these folks is like saying the Dems are taken over by the hands off my entitlement crowd.  I think there are large numbers of Repubs and Dems that are willing to deal with this situation.  Even Cantor and Beohner are open to modifying the tax code but for some reason some Dems don't want to do this.  For awhile, the President was also willing to talk and compromise (he was showing longsuffering) but now (I guess he ran out of longsuffering) he has joined in the food fight.  Trying to find blame for this is a losing strategy and in my opinion is a waste of enegy that should be used to reform the tax system and purge the system of rent seekers.  We will see what happens with the Repubs but a I think the folks that represent the extreme (Backmann, Palin, Perry and Cain) will at most get the VP slot.  Just my 2 cents.

 

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I think its the wrong question. Conservatives simple hate higher taxes, Buffett is just cannon fodder.

 

I'll readily admit I am a conservative.  I don't inherently hate higher taxes, but I do hate wasteful spending and the knee jerk reaction by many to call for higher taxes whenever there is a deficit, when what we need first is a thorough review of current spending to see if it is effective.  Only then should higher taxes be proposed.   

 

Dionne says in his article:

"He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax."

 

I would argue that these three points are not so obvious.  (1) I think their is a stronger case that the tax system is more biased against capital (through a corporate tax and then dividend tax) than it is against labor.  (2) The IRS statistics show that the wealthy pay a higher effective income tax rate than the middle or upper middle class.  (3) What really annoys me is seeing the regressive nature of the payroll tax as a negative.  Of course it is.  It was designed that way and should be if it is going to be viewed as a "retirement plan."    The Social Security system has actually been slowly tweeked to be progressive in recent years (meaning that it is designed for the poor make out the best in the system, although what actually happens is different due to life expectancy). 

 

Via the Earned Income Tax Credit the poor actually receive their Social Security contributions back.  How is that fair?  Does the poor have a right to get something for nothing?  It is not an inherent right, or a matter of fairness.  It is the generosity of the wealthy.  To see a right in what is really a gift is sad.  To argue that the middle class is getting shortchanged is ridiculous as well.  The middle class (and I am one) are still net beneficiaries in our society.  Instead of hating the rich, the poor and middle class should be thankful for them.

Tim ",instead of hating the rich , the poor and middle class should be thankful for them" First of all Tim this statement and atitude is at the core of what irks me about the so called conservatives position. First of all the poor and middle class do not hate the rich and second in an ideal capitalist system where there is a fair exchange why should labor be thankfull to capital?  Should not both sides of the capital labor divide be equally thank full. Enlightened capitalists understand that it is THEY who should be thankfull not their hardworking employees.

  The other thing that gets to me is this constant harping about waste in govt. Tim the private sector especialy big widely held corporations piss away so much of the shareholders money that it makes one want to cry. Most career civil servants understand that the best way to end your career is to be accused of profligacy.Plus we have a huge problem with govt accounting every one on both sides of the debate are freaking out about the size of the debt and deficit.  If the government spends a billion dollars building a dike to prevent or control flooding the govt accounts do not even recognize this as an asset. Thousands in fact millions of individuals may benefit from this govt expenditure and there is no present method for the private sector  to provide this good or service. Tim it was big govt action in Sept. of 2008 and the months that followed that saved our asses. They bailed out the banks forced the Merill merger. Without that action you would have gone to your ATM and the money would have been gone. Everyone benefited now everyone has to pay the poor and the middle class can not pay any more and should not have to their slice of the pie has been getting steadily smaller for 30 years and right now the pie aint getting any bigger. So lets focus are collective efforts on how to make the pie bigger instead of arguing how we should distribute the pie. Capital does not need more incentives. Warren has found lots of ways to deploy capital under the present incentive scheme.The poor and the middle class are about to receive an awfull screwing over. Do you think most employees of defined benefit plans are aware of how under funded their pension plans are do you think the avg. baby boomer is even aware that Rick Perry is right the social security system has been run like a ponzi scheme. They thought the money would be there the rich were smart enough to figure out that it would not be or indifferent because it just did not matter to them they were just too busy getting richer. Christie in New Jersey has been doing a pretty good job of delivering the news to the voters and govt employess of the bad news some one has to now deliver the news to the moneyed class .

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Recommended reading for anyone who actually wants to understand which limitations and incentives the political process favours, instead of just throwing dirt on people with different values: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/14/a_dictators_handbook_for_the_president?page=0,0

Yup thats pretty much how the machine works. David Stockmans book, The Triumph of Politics lays it out at length. The Republicans are much better at politics.
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I think its the wrong question. Conservatives simple hate higher taxes, Buffett is just cannon fodder.

 

I'll readily admit I am a conservative.  I don't inherently hate higher taxes, but I do hate wasteful spending and the knee jerk reaction by many to call for higher taxes whenever there is a deficit, when what we need first is a thorough review of current spending to see if it is effective.  Only then should higher taxes be proposed.   

 

Dionne says in his article:

"He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax."

 

I would argue that these three points are not so obvious.  (1) I think their is a stronger case that the tax system is more biased against capital (through a corporate tax and then dividend tax) than it is against labor.  (2) The IRS statistics show that the wealthy pay a higher effective income tax rate than the middle or upper middle class.  (3) What really annoys me is seeing the regressive nature of the payroll tax as a negative.  Of course it is.  It was designed that way and should be if it is going to be viewed as a "retirement plan."    The Social Security system has actually been slowly tweeked to be progressive in recent years (meaning that it is designed for the poor make out the best in the system, although what actually happens is different due to life expectancy). 

 

Via the Earned Income Tax Credit the poor actually receive their Social Security contributions back.  How is that fair?  Does the poor have a right to get something for nothing?  It is not an inherent right, or a matter of fairness.  It is the generosity of the wealthy.  To see a right in what is really a gift is sad.  To argue that the middle class is getting shortchanged is ridiculous as well.  The middle class (and I am one) are still net beneficiaries in our society.  Instead of hating the rich, the poor and middle class should be thankful for them.

Tim ",instead of hating the rich , the poor and middle class should be thankful for them" First of all Tim this statement and atitude is at the core of what irks me about the so called conservatives position. First of all the poor and middle class do not hate the rich and second in an ideal capitalist system where there is a fair exchange why should labor be thankfull to capital?  Should not both sides of the capital labor divide be equally thank full. Enlightened capitalists understand that it is THEY who should be thankfull not their hardworking employees.

  The other thing that gets to me is this constant harping about waste in govt. Tim the private sector especialy big widely held corporations piss away so much of the shareholders money that it makes one want to cry. Most career civil servants understand that the best way to end your career is to be accused of profligacy.Plus we have a huge problem with govt accounting every one on both sides of the debate are freaking out about the size of the debt and deficit.  If the government spends a billion dollars building a dike to prevent or control flooding the govt accounts do not even recognize this as an asset. Thousands in fact millions of individuals may benefit from this govt expenditure and there is no present method for the private sector  to provide this good or service. Tim it was big govt action in Sept. of 2008 and the months that followed that saved our asses. They bailed out the banks forced the Merill merger. Without that action you would have gone to your ATM and the money would have been gone. Everyone benefited now everyone has to pay the poor and the middle class can not pay any more and should not have to their slice of the pie has been getting steadily smaller for 30 years and right now the pie aint getting any bigger. So lets focus are collective efforts on how to make the pie bigger instead of arguing how we should distribute the pie. Capital does not need more incentives. Warren has found lots of ways to deploy capital under the present incentive scheme.The poor and the middle class are about to receive an awfull screwing over. Do you think most employees of defined benefit plans are aware of how under funded their pension plans are do you think the avg. baby boomer is even aware that Rick Perry is right the social security system has been run like a ponzi scheme. They thought the money would be there the rich were smart enough to figure out that it would not be or indifferent because it just did not matter to them they were just too busy getting richer. Christie in New Jersey has been doing a pretty good job of delivering the news to the voters and govt employess of the bad news some one has to now deliver the news to the moneyed class .

 

Sadly we are not discussing the three points that Dionne thought were obvious that in reality are not.

 

Anyways, I must have failed in clearly stating what I meant.  Regarding my point about the poor and middle class hating the rich I was not discussing the division of the economic pie which is usually a fair exchange.  I was only referring to the taxation afterwards.  Also while you dismiss that there is hatred toward the rich I would say that one party is stoking the fire all the time.  At minimum there is jealousy.  For many on the left there is a belief that the riches of the wealthy are gained off the backs of labor and are therefore ill-gotten.   

 

Your second paragraph is really a rambling of way too many things to address, some of which are not germane.  You successfully bash conservatives and then praise Perry and Christie.  Regarding government accounting I assume you  also realize the other side - that they are not accruing liabilities for the change in present value of future medicare or social security obligations, nor depreciating assets.  It is not like most of the federal governments expenditures are capital expenses.  Secondly to say that everyone has to pay for the 2008 bailout is ridiculous.  It paid for itself. The government was quite generous in some terms and still did well.  That is not the cause of the fiscal problem we face. 

 

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I tend to agree with the notion that it is immoral to not address the waste problem (Which I think almost everyone can agree there is a large amount of waste) and then demand more money in taxes.  The government does a poor job distributing that money and that should be the first goal.  However, I do recognize that the tax system has problems that should be addressed immediately.  Those with the means are able to reduce their tax payments with the current system more than is fair IMO.

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Recommended reading for anyone who actually wants to understand which limitations and incentives the political process favours, instead of just throwing dirt on people with different values: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/14/a_dictators_handbook_for_the_president?page=0,0

Yup thats pretty much how the machine works. David Stockmans book, The Triumph of Politics lays it out at length. The Republicans are much better at politics.

 

Great article. I agree with just about everything. The Dems really fail at taking care of their base, and their base is too scattered / disinterested. Its a tough situation. I like that the article just calls it as it is without a bunch of rhetoric....

 

And what about the domestic front? The central issues in the United States today are jobs and economic growth. Democrats like to spend on entitlements that help their voters. Republicans like to cut taxes to help their voters. Democrats want to raise taxes -- mostly on Republicans -- to pay the cost of their social programs. And Republicans want to cut those very programs to "pay" for tax breaks for wealthy -- read Republican -- voters.

 

Does the national interest or the people's well-being enter the equation? Not really. The well-being of key voters (those essential for victory) drives the choice. Obama may boast of the dictators taken down under his first term, but to get elected to a second term he may need to think like one.And what about the domestic front? The central issues in the United States today are jobs and economic growth. Democrats like to spend on entitlements that help their voters. Republicans like to cut taxes to help their voters. Democrats want to raise taxes -- mostly on Republicans -- to pay the cost of their social programs. And Republicans want to cut those very programs to "pay" for tax breaks for wealthy -- read Republican -- voters.

 

Does the national interest or the people's well-being enter the equation? Not really. The well-being of key voters (those essential for victory) drives the choice. Obama may boast of the dictators taken down under his first term, but to get elected to a second term he may need to think like one.

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Tim, "that is not the cause of the fiscal problems we face" The cause is pretty simple for  a long period of time govt has run deficits while a certain sector of society has benefited hugely.  The poor had nothing and still have nothing and we are telling them that they can expect more of the same except that perhaps they will not be getting any govt assistance when they retire. The middle class had something but have lost a lot and the top 1-5 percent have garnered the lions share of the wealth that was created. I am part of that 1-5 percent prolly right in the middle of that cohort. The over all liabilities of the nation in relation to its present wealth is clearly too high we are in agreement on that, how to bring it back into balance is where we disagree. I am for the few who have benefited greatly to share a larger part of the cost of bringing it back into balance you do not. 

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Tim, "that is not the cause of the fiscal problems we face" The cause is pretty simple for  a long period of time govt has run deficits while a certain sector of society has benefited hugely.  The poor had nothing and still have nothing and we are telling them that they can expect more of the same except that perhaps they will not be getting any govt assistance when they retire. The middle class had something but have lost a lot and the top 1-5 percent have garnered the lions share of the wealth that was created. I am part of that 1-5 percent prolly right in the middle of that cohort. The over all liabilities of the nation in relation to its present wealth is clearly too high we are in agreement on that, how to bring it back into balance is where we disagree. I am for the few who have benefited greatly to share a larger part of the cost of bringing it back into balance you do not.

 

It is not that I am against a tax on the rich.  I just know it won't solve the problem and thus shouldn't be the primary focus.  Let's use actual 2009 IRS numbers.  Those making over $200,000 had total taxable income of 1.62 trillion and paid 433 billion in taxes.  If we raise taxes to 100% we could get the remaining $1.2 trillion and we still would not balance the budget.  I'm no economist but I am pretty darn sure people won't work as hard at a 100% tax rate.  For kicks let's assume we double taxes to a 50% effective rate and get 433 billion more.  We still have a hole of one trillion dollars. 

 

We have to focus on the spending side! 

 

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For those with an interest in moral philosophy, note that Gandhi said "Wealth without work" is one of the 7 DEADLY SOCIAL Sins. I think Buffett advocates taxing income from wealth at the same rate as income from work. In my humble opinion, this is only fair, & consistent with Gandhi's philosophy.

 

For those interested in Christian theology, consider God's revelation of his social wisdom to the OT prophets, i.e.in peaceful & just societies, ALL citizens will flourish. Faith in God's social wisdom, is reaffirmed by the Gospel of Luke, which characterizes Jesus as a "true prophet", who brings Good News to the poor. According to Nicholas Wolterstorff in "Justice", Buffett & Obama seek economic justice, so that ALL may flourish.  This is not "Class Warfare', according to Yale Law Professors, Bruce Ackerman & Anne Alstott, in the Huffington Post.

 

In short, I trust the wisdom of Warren Buffett.

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