Observations on life

We are making progress; now $200 million is equal to $500,000

Writing in the New York Times in favor of higher taxes on the “wealthy,” Warren Buffett says:

The group’s (Forbes 400 most wealthy) average income in 2009 was $202 million — which works out to a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. (I’m assuming they’re paid during lunch hours.) Yet more than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And — brace yourself — a few actually paid nothing.

This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.

Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

I suspect most people will agree with Buffett. After all, who cares about the 400 wealthiest people in America? Who cares about people earning $500,000 a year? Hey, I suspect average Americans care little about those with incomes of $250,000 or $200,000 or $150,000 or $100,000 (am I getting close to home yet?).

All this focus on 400 people or even 2% of the U. S. population is a diversion. What we should be focused on is the spending of tax revenue. Increasing taxes is never ending because spending is never ending. Today we are obsessed with the wealthy, but tomorrow all Americans will be affected.

Raising taxes before you have agreement on the appropriate level of spending and before setting spending priorities is like pouring water into a hole hoping to fill it but not knowing its depth or even if there is a bottom.

And then there is this:

From Bloomberg.com

France Sexy No More for Entrepreneurs Escaping Hollande: Taxes

Jean-Emile Rosenblum, a 34-year-old e-commerce businessman, is quitting France.

With President Francois Hollande’s government readying a vote this month on its first annual budget law that seeks to raise 24.4 billion euros ($31.7 billion) in additional taxes, some of France’s entrepreneurs and wealthy are heading for the door. Hollande’s hitting businesses and individuals with at least a dozen new measures, including a 75 percent levy on income of more than 1 million euros, to narrow the budget gap.

“France is no longer a sexy place to be,” said Rosenblum, founder and former owner of Pixmania, an online seller of computers. “To attract and keep business and jobs you have to put on your best face, especially in tough economic times. With all the costs, the taxes and the social pressure, France looks more like an old maid to me.”

Rosenblum — who says he’s leaving France with his wife and two little children this month to open a new business in a country he won’t disclose — is among people fleeing a slew of levies announced by Hollande since the Socialist president was elected in May. The 75 percent millionaire tax was followed by new levies on capital gains, an increased tax on income and wealth, a boost to inheritance charges and an exit tax for entrepreneurs selling their companies.

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