Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Perils of Fabulous Wealth

Everyone would like to be filthy rich, right? Imagine the freedom that comes with knowing you can do pretty much anything you want do, can go anyplace in the world at the drop of a hat, and can buy whatever strikes your fancy. Of course, no matter how much money you might have, it can still run out.

Just look at all of the former pro-athletes that earned million-dollar salaries who are now down on their luck. Or actors who commanded millions upon millions for film roles, but are forced to now take any role they can get because of financial difficulties. Or the former titans of Wall Street that believed they could make as money at will, only to see their fortunes disappear in the wink of an eye. Then, there stories and more stories of lottery winners who are forced into bankruptcy, sometimes less than a year after winning their fortune.

Then again, there are plenty of rich people that stay that way throughout their lifetimes. Some earn their money, some fall into, and some are born into it. And some still manage to be reckless with their cash, yet not so reckless that they spend their way into the poor house.

For those, however, that just keep making money hand over fist, that seemingly cannot help but become wealthier and wealthier, there is another danger. Regardless of where the money comes from--investing, successful businesses, sports, the film industry, etc.--the people at the top seem more susceptible than most to the curse of making asses of themselves.

There's Donald Trump, with his "birther" nonsense, Tom Cruise with...well too much to count, Paris Hilton with her home videos, and a host of others.

Now we have the latest filthy rich person to join the ranks of the colossal asses: Warren Buffet.

After the silliness of his various op-eds last year, Buffett has upped the ante. If you recall, when Buffett decided to publicly announce his willingness to pay more taxes, a number of Republican lawmakers told him to go right ahead, no one is stopping him.

Of course, Buffett did no such thing. Posturing is much easier when you aren't forced to actually do what you say you'd be willing to do. But the latest from Buffett revives the nonsense:
Still, he’s willing to take them up on it. “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So Buffett has pledged to match 1 for 1 all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And I’ll even go 3 for 1 for McConnell,” he says. That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million. As Buffett put it to me, “I’m not worried.”
So, Buffet says he'll match the extra tax payments from Republicans. Great. But here's the problem: the Republicans never said they thought they were under-taxed! That was Buffet's--along with some others'--claim.

He wants to challenge somone so he can match them dollar for dollar? Challenge all the people that want taxes increased, that don't think they're paying enough, not the ones that think tax rates are too high and/or too punitive.

This has to be one of the absolutely dumbest attempts at scoring political points that I have ever seen. It's so stupid, I can't even wrap my head around how Buffett might have thought it was a clever retort.

The only explanation I can come up with is that fabulous wealth slowly turns people into morons.

Cheers, all.

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