Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett’

Warren Buffett calls for fair—that is, higher—taxes on the super-rich

August 15, 2011

The battle in Congress over America’s budget problem is both practical and ideological. People on the left argue that the budget can never be brought under control without a blend of tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts. On the right tea-party-fueled passions oppose any tax increase on the grounds that the rich are already paying more than their fair share and, moreover, that raising their taxes will stifle job creation.

Into this battle rides Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest person with assets of $50 billion. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, headlined “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” Buffett demolishes both arguments against higher taxes for the super-rich.

First he explains how under-taxed the wealthy are: his tax rate of 17.4 % of taxable income is the lowest of the twenty people in his office, including his secretary. And that’s not uncommon for the super-rich. His summary:

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

And as far as the argument that higher taxes will slow down investment by the super-rich in new jobs, America’s most successful investor puts it this way:

People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. (more…)

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Got ethics? Some investment bankers do.

April 8, 2011

 

Last year the Senate held hearings into Goldman Sachs’s role in the financial crisis. I wrote at the time that it appeared that Goldman Sachs, the most respected house on Wall Street, had no ethical standards.

Now the other icon of financial rectitude, Berkshire-Hathaway, is under the ethics microscope because of questionable dealings by David Sokol, an executive widely considered to be a possible successor to the revered “Sage of Omaha,” Warren Buffett.

Sokol had purchased shares in Lubrizol Corporation, then recommended to Buffett that Berkshire Hathaway buy the company. He knew (or was pretty confident) that the shares would go up if a deal went through. It did, and they did, netting Sokol a quick $3,000,000 windfall.

Was Sokol unethical? Buffett defended his sidekick, even as he accepted Sokol’s resignation, saying, “Neither Dave nor I feel his Lubrizol purchases were in any way unlawful.” Notice that Buffett was not defending Sokol’s ethics, only his non-criminality.

So was Sokol being unethical? Sure—I think so, but more importantly, so do 21 of 23 top U.S. investment bankers, according to a poll by Reuters. Only one of the bankers in the poll said Sokol’s behavior breached no ethics or rules.

So investment bankers do have ethics. Now if Reuters would only ask them what they think about the top one per cent of the population earning 20 per cent of the national income and owning 35 per cent of the national wealth…

 

Making the world a better place: fifty-eight billionaires have followed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in pledging to give half their wealth to charity

December 26, 2010

 

While Republicans were digging in their heels to get tax breaks for millionaires and Democrats were demonizing them, 58 billionaires were promising to give away more than half of their wealth to philanthropic causes..

They’ve taken “The Giving Pledge,” an initiative of Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates “to make the world a better place.”

The names of Buffett and the Gates’s don’t appear on the website, givingpledge.org. They’re not into self-aggrandizement. In fact quite the opposite: when Buffett, reportedly the world’s third wealthiest person, decided to give away 99 percent of his wealth, he didn’t endow a Warren Buffett foundation: he decided that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had all the right intentions and the right competence, so he decided to give it all to that going concern. He’s already given over six billion dollars to the foundation.