When Too Much is not enough

By Patricia L Johnson

Whether or not someone is ‘too rich’ in monetary terms can only be determined based on what that particular individual does with his/her wealth.

Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is considered to be the 4th wealthiest individual in the world, and the 2nd wealthiest in the United States. His net worth is estimated at $53.5 billion on the Forbes 2013 listing of the wealthiest individuals in the world.

Warren Buffet was probably the first person to bring the U.S. tax cut problems to light by appearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on November 14, 2007. It was during this hearing that Mr. Buffet proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, the gap between the super-rich and the middle class in the United States had widened tremendously due entirely to the tax law changes benefiting the rich, put into place under the Bush Administration. He basically compared the increase in the Forbes 400 list with the median income increase for the average American over a 20 year period of time. During this hearing Mr. Buffet stated that while the average American workers income has been on a treadmill, income for the super-rich has been on a spaceship.

That same year Warren Buffet appeared at a New York fundraiser and said he was taxed at a rate of 17.7% of the $46 million he earned in the last year, while his secretary was taxed at 30% on the $60,000 she earned.

Warren Buffet’s August 2011 opinion piece published in the New York Times “Stop Coddling the Super- Rich” explains some of the tax cuts available to the wealthy, that aren’t available to the average taxpayer. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this article, you may want to take a few minutes to review as it will provide a better understanding of tax cut problems.

The following Warren Buffet quote basically says it all: ““There’s class warfare, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Although he’s the second wealthiest person in the United States Warren Buffet apparently still resides in the same home he purchased back in 1958 for $31,500, although it appears he does own a home in California estimated at $4 million dollars. His frugal nature was obvious when it came time to purchase a new corporate jet for Berkshire Hathaway. While most CEO’s would order a shiny, new jet, Buffet settled for a “used” model.

His salary from Berkshire Hathaway is a measly $100,000/year – a mere pittance when compared to others in his position.

In June of 2006 Buffet made the largest charitable contribution in history [approximately $30.7 billion] to the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. This was the first step in his plan to give his fortune to charity. The Gates Foundation receives 5% of the total contribution on an annualized basis every July beginning with July of 2006. The condition attached to this contribution was the Gates Foundation, beginning in 2009, must give away an amount equal to the prior year’s gift from Buffet, plus 5% of the foundation’s net assets.

Too many foundations are set up to avoid paying taxes and while they accept donations, fail to pass on those donations to worthy causes. The condition Mr. Buffet included in his plan eliminates that possibility.

There are numerous millionaires and billionaires in this country that definitely have an excessive amount of wealth and the reason it’s excessive is simply due to the fact very little good comes out of their assets. Warren Buffet definitely does not fall into that category. He is a prime example of how an excessive amount of wealth can be good for both the country and the people in it.

© 2013 Patricia L Johnson

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