Good Billionaires

On Monday a person named Anand Giridharadas wrote a scathing New York Times op-Ed piece about “good and bad” billionaires. Actually, he considers all extremely wealthy Americans to be scalawags, who don’t give a damn about anything but accumulating wealth.

I enthusiastically want to express my disagreement with this man’s uninformed, and poorly researched perspectives. The Times should be more discerning about sensational essays that misstate the actions of others in an effort to appease the most radical left-wing elements in the country. The paper will never change its stripes.

Yeah, his concern is that many billionaires have increased their wealth over the past few years, while paying relatively minimal taxes to the government. [You guessed it. They don’t pay their “fair share of taxes!” Whatever the hell that means.]

The author spends little time explaining the nature of Warren Buffett’s wealth and the that of others in his stratosphere. It’s really pretty simple. Billionaire investors like Buffett have accumulated wealth on a pretax basis in the form of assets that will eventually be taxed when sold for a profit. They usually have relatively little current income. Someday the government will receive a large payment if the money is not given away to charity.

Also, Mr. G did not focus on the amount that Buffett has donated to charity. He pointed out that Buffet’s wealth “soared” by $24.3 billion from 2014 to 2018, but he paid only $23.7 million in taxes. However, it was not mentioned that Buffett gave $37 billion to charity since 2006. And he is the founder of the Giving Pledge and promised to give away 99% of his fortune before he dies. This year, Buffett is donating another $2.9 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the needy.

“The Giving Pledge is an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.”  As of 2020, 211 individuals signed the Pledge representing approximately $600 billion.

Buffet, Gates and Bezos really don’t need me to shield them from overzealous, ill-informed commentators. None of them have anything to be ashamed of. Since when is success a deadly sin? Why do people write things that are misleading and besmirch the reputations of the most generous people in the world? At least, this guy should have Googled Buffett to see that maybe Buffett is not rolling around in a pile of Benjamins. But rather, he’s trying to figure out how to give away his wealth before he dies.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, simplistically, when Buffett dies, the remaining money in his estate will be taxed at over 50%.

Progressives are revving up to try to enact a law that taxes the wealth of billionaires as opposed to their current income. They have every right to pursue such a strategy. I hope that before they embark on this unfair odyssey, they calculate and recognize how much billionaires donate on top of the actual tax payments they do make each year.