Saturday, August 20, 2011

Series of Significance - Warren Buffett, pay more taxes

The following three posts were initially published separately beginning on August 16. I will repeat them here - while eating a gourmet hotdog lunch - for your convenience. No extra charge. gah

The Way We Live PT 1: Leftovers and one gourmet hot dog

[“Warren Buffett (one of the world’s three richest men) has touched a national nerve.” (He) “has taken to the pages of the New York Times to call for higher taxes - yes, higher taxes - for himself and his well-off peers.” Aug. 16, London Free Press]

If you are having leftovers for lunch and have an extra spot at the table then I’m your man. I like leftovers.

If I like something the first time, I like it even more the second time. On the third day my slow-cooker Irish stew tastes magnificent.

I relish eating food before it’s wasted and tossed, and believe me when I say a lot of stuff is wasted in North America.

Thomas M. Kostigen writes, “The average-sized house in a temperate climate can fully provide enough water to its inhabitants purely from the rainwater that falls on its roof. The sun provides in one second enough energy to power the entire US population for nine million years, yet we harness less than 1 percent of its energy. The third most common refuse at dumpsites is food.” (pg. 10, You Are Here)

You have no need now, however, to invite me for lunch. I just finished eating leftover macaroni and cheese and half a container of mashed sweet potato topped with butter and Parmesan cheese. (Just about everything I pull from the fridge tastes better with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, even Parmesan cheese. Sorry, I digress.)

Sure, I would have liked the sweet potato more had it been mixed with diced carrot, parsnip and turnip because I like how the vegetables compliment one another, but I can’t be choosy.

What about meat?

I don’t feel I need as much meat as I presently eat. One good gourmet hotdog every few days would do me fine and I prefer that I create the gourmet dog on my own.

Whenever I eat a restaurant meal I feel I could do better myself. I could save a whack of money and if I planned the meal right, have leftovers the next day and save even more money at the same time. Why, I’m sure there are millions of people around the world like myself who feel they would even get a tremendous amount of pleasure out of stuffing the hotdog skins themselves and not rely on a factory of some sort to help with a small, easy task.

Maybe Warren Buffett felt some of the same feelings - about eating leftovers (with relish) and creating meals - when he said the following yesterday:

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”


Leftovers. Stuffed sausages. Shared sacrifice. Oh, it all fits together alright.

More to follow.


The Way We Live PT 2: Warren Buffett will pay more taxes

[“City hall (London, Ontario) will tap out wallets so long as that is the path of least resistance. Let’s push back. E-mail your councillors just two words: freeze taxes!” Aug. 18, D. Steers, London Free Press]

According to the headline in the Aug. 16 issue of my local paper, ‘Buffett wants to pay more tax.’ I didn’t see that coming.

But Warren Buffett’s timing is perfect. (He strikes me as a leftovers-kinda-guy, and knows when enough is enough. He bet he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, stuffing his own sausages, making his own gourmet dog once in awhile. Let me know if I’m wrong.)

[“Two thumbs up! I bet Warren and Gord would like this sausage tutorial.”: photo link]

At the moment US politicians are struggling to reduce the nation’s deficit and get runaway debt under control. “Added revenue” or taxes might be one way to go as far as Buffett, one of the world’s three richest men, is concerned.

His thinking flies in the face of the common default position for a growing number of North Americans who chant, scream or push the following views:

Freeze taxes!

Cut taxes!

Cut government staff and programs!

Get government out of our faces!

Buffett’s position, that the wealthy “have it better than we’ve ever had it” and that they have an obligation to pay substantially more tax, flies in the face of a philosophy espoused by many government leaders and media pundits (not me, however, ‘cause I don’t even know what a pundit is).

Peter Worthington, media pundit of some renown, shared the philosophy recently in an article re the US deficit and debt:

“The only thing that can, or will, curb the growing national debt is productivity.”

(In other words, to bring unsustainable debt under control we must follow the business as usual path of unsustainable production and industrial growth. Now, that’s radical!)

“The answer is not raising taxes, especially if you want the economy to flourish. Yet for many politicians, raising taxes is the limit of their imaginations - especially on those they regard as “the rich.” What is often overlooked is that it is usually rich people who have the wherewithal to create jobs, and therefore become richer. In the process, American workers have also become richer.”

With 9.2% unemployment in the US, maybe the above philosophy needs a closer look. Maybe it’s time the unsustainable production game is dialed back a bit and level of taxation for the millions who can afford to pay more is dialed up a bit.

Though Republicans in the US and certain folks in Canada will continue to resist higher taxes for the wealthy, maybe some of Buffett’s words will carry some weight.

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and whilst most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extra-ordinary tax breaks."

A spokesperson for one notably wealthy person (contacted by Reuters) responded to Buffett’s challenge with the following:

“George Soros says he agrees and congratulates Warren Buffett. The rich are hurting their own long-term interests by their opposition to paying more taxes.”

Whatever Buffett is up to, or whatever his motivation, I bet the subject of long-term interests - along with a few leftovers - is on his table.

More to follow.


Definition; pundit - learned expert or teacher. (Concise Oxford Dictionary)

Yeah, that’s not me.


The Way We Live PT 3: Keep the long-term view on your short list

[“The rich are hurting their own long-term interests by their opposition to paying more taxes.” George Soros, Aug. 16, London Free Press]

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s three richest men, made the news the other day by saying he is willing to pay more taxes.

Whatever might Buffet’s motives be for making a statement that flies in the face of the default position of much conservative thought and desire (i.e., lower taxes, shrink government and its influence)?

Perhaps he feels patriotic, that America is facing a dark hour (or decade or two), that all must pick up their arms, bank book tightly clenched in one fist, and rescue the country.

Perhaps with pride he recalls John F. Kennedy’s words, i.e., “Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” and applied it to himself and the wealthiest in his country.

Perhaps in all humility he has a heart for the poor and struggling middle class. (I base this on a reported statement of Buffett’s: “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and whilst most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extra-ordinary tax breaks.” London Free Press)

Perhaps because he is 80-years old, wealthy enough to live in great luxury until the end of his life, i.e., in the next decade or two, he realizes better than most when enough is enough.

["Less is more. Buffett knows this, I bet": cartoon GH]

Perhaps he is taking a long-term look at his investments and realizes that if his country sinks below the water, so too will much of what he has accumulated thus far in his life.

Perhaps he sees that the system of taxation is just another way to invest in the land he loves and in the benefits he enjoys, i.e., in its infrastructure and defense and educational and health care systems and so on.

Whatever Buffett’s motives might be (all of the above and more), I’m sure he has kept both his personal and country’s long-term interests in mind, because he didn’t get to be one of the world’s richest men by not seeing the connection between the two.

I often say “live small, reduce spending, pay down debt and save money for the tough times ahead.”

Perhaps I should add “and if the tax rate for rich land owners and wealthy corporations is too low, then raise it by a few points.”

If I get caught in the expanding net, so be it.


I don’t know the man myself, but Mr. Buffett seems like the kind of guy who would like leftovers and one of my gourmet dogs once in awhile.

(Warren, call me anytime.)

Please click here to read more about taxes and attitudes about them.


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