Watch: Warren Buffett – ‘rich won class warfare’


4:21 pm - October 1st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Yesterday morning the American billionaire Warren Buffett was interviewed on the finance channel CNBC.

Here’s how part of the exchange went:

QUESTIONER: Are you happy seeing your suggestion, this new Buffett Rule, becoming more of a basis of a political battle that really has turned into class warfare?

BUFFETT: Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.

If you look at the 400 highest taxpayers in the United States in 1992, the first year for figures, they averaged about $40 million of [income] per person. In the most recent year, they were $227 million per person — five for one. During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income. So, if there’s class warfare, the rich class has won.

Wow. Warren Buffett is now echoing what many on the left have been saying for years.
(via The Plum Line)

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Old news really, he was saying this back in 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/business/yourmoney/26every.html

hmmm, yeh warren buffet, i wonder if he’s read jared diamond’s collapse.
given the increasingly intractable problems of our civilisation, what has his class won, the right to be the last to starve?
all those zeroes after a number in a bank account in an offshore tax haven will become just that – zero!

Oh, go on, the temptation is overwhelming – where’s Worstall?

Easy for him, Comrade Buffett can afford to be a champagne socialist. The rest of us don’t much like paying considerable chunks of our income to people in the unproductive sector of the economy who think wealth creation is evil.

5. So Much For Subtlety

If you look at the 400 highest taxpayers in the United States in 1992, the first year for figures, they averaged about $40 million of [income] per person. In the most recent year, they were $227 million per person — five for one. During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income. So, if there’s class warfare, the rich class has won.

So they went from paying $11.6 million in tax to paying $47.7 million?

You know, the tax payers of America might consider that a bit of a good deal.

How is this the rich winning the class war?

6. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Oh, go on, the temptation is overwhelming – where’s Worstall?

Living high at the taxpayer’s expense last time I checked.

7. So Much For Subtlety

6. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Living high at the taxpayer’s expense last time I checked.

And when was that then? 1956? You have evidence for this?

Given, you know, last time I checked Worstall was running his own business. In Portugal.

@7

Given, you know, last time I checked Worstall was running his own business. In Portugal.

And thoroughly living up to the stereotype of the British Expat.

9. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

And when was that then? 1956? You have evidence for this?

1st April 1994 – Current.

You of all people asking for evidence, it’d be laughable if it weren’t so narcissistic.

10. Mr S. Pill

@5

Come on now, you even quoted the relevent bit: “During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income.”.

Right wing troll must try harder…

(It is so amusing to see right-wing lunatics twist themselves in knots when confronted with Buffett’s opinions… 😉 )

11. So Much For Subtlety

8. Cylux

And thoroughly living up to the stereotype of the British Expat.

Good for him. So freakin’ what? You didn’t feel like making a relevant and substantive comment so thought you would settle for what I assume you intended as a smear? Why bother?

9. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

1st April 1994 – Current.

And how precisely is he living off the tax payer?

10. Mr S. Pill

Come on now, you even quoted the relevent bit: “During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income.”.

I noticed. So the tax rate dropped by 8% and the revenue to the government rose by something like 400%. How is that not an excellent bargain for the tax payers of America? How is that not proof that lowering taxes is an excellent idea?

12. Leon Wolfson

@11 – Ah right, it’s “good value” to take a steep discount then? Well, would you like to make me a loan then? On those grounds?

@11 SMFS: Because it’s the level of engagement that you deserve.

14. Rob the crip

The Labour party after event dinner was a meal which cost £1240 this was the cost of getting to sit at Blair’s table, no no sorry Milibands table.

Two of the seats were taken by two directors of two of the biggest tobacco companies, as labour works to fill a void of Non Dom’s who have left the party, or of course they just wanted a few Cuban cigars.

15. So Much For Subtlety

12. Leon Wolfson

Ah right, it’s “good value” to take a steep discount then? Well, would you like to make me a loan then? On those grounds?

On those grounds? That I charge you one twelfth as much interest and you pay me four time as much? Sure. Any time. What discount? The State took a mildly lower share and got a much greater amount. How is that not a good idea Leon?

16. Leon Wolfson

No SMFS, that you agree that the interest I pay will trend negative over time, and negative in proportion to my earnings. Just like the taxes for the super-rich.

You of course have to lie and attempt to steal from me, in typical rich-man fashion instead of course. The PROPORTION is what matters. Not your trickle-down fantasies, which overlook the fact that that the cost of living has being going up by more than poorer people’s wages since the mid 70’s.

But they’re only peons, why do you care?

17. So Much For Subtlety

16. Leon Wolfson

No SMFS, that you agree that the interest I pay will trend negative over time, and negative in proportion to my earnings. Just like the taxes for the super-rich.

I am sorry Leon but do you know what even one of those words means?

You of course have to lie and attempt to steal from me, in typical rich-man fashion instead of course. The PROPORTION is what matters. Not your trickle-down fantasies, which overlook the fact that that the cost of living has being going up by more than poorer people’s wages since the mid 70?s.

Why does the proportion matter? We need revenue to piss away on things like Social Security. That is what matters, you know, helping people. The more revenue, the better. If revenue is maximised at 21% not 29%, the only sane thing to do is charge the 21%. Unless you think the purpose is to make everyone suffer as long as the rich suffer slightly more than the rest of us. Is that what you think Leon?

But they’re only peons, why do you care?

Could you combine a more irrelevant comment with a more manipulative intent? I am inclined to think not, but I expect you will surprise me.

And when was that then? 1956? You have evidence for this?

1st April 1994 – Current.

Rilly?

Hmm, in this period of time I’ve organised computer games programming in Russia for American companies, sold newspapers in Russia, exported various metals from Russia to people in the UK, US, Germany, Taiwan, Japan and so on, written various bits and pieces for various people and been a PR man for a political party for 10 months.

I guess you could call that $2,400 contract with Oxford University for some metal “living high on the taxpayers” and certainly that 10 months in political PR came out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

But I can’t quite see that this is living high at the taxpayers’ expense for the last 17 years really.

As to Buffett, he’s been making the same mistake for years. He’s been making the same mistake for so long, people have explained his mistake to him so often, that we must assume that it’s deliberate.

The low tax rate on the rich comes from capital gains and dividends being lower than taxes on earned income. However, capital gains and dividends are also taxed at the corporate level. The corporate income tax.

Now, when we talk about corporation tax I’m the one who keeps saying that the company doesn’t pay it. Recall? It’s either the shareholders who do or its the workers who do.

And around ehre everybody keeps telling me that obviously, it’s the shareholders, the bastard capitalists who pay it, not the workers.

OK then, we now have to add the corporate income tax to the tax rates of those rich people, those rich people who get most of their income from capital gains and dividends, don’t we? Because, as you’ve already insisted, they are the people who really pay this tax.

Which is what Buffett continually ignores.

BTW, when Census does calculate the impact of the corporate income tax in the US, they assign it to households in proportion to households ownership of corporate securities. And yes, Census’ estimations of tax burdens are very different from the ones Buffett bandies about.

19. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Hmm, in this period of time I’ve organised computer games programming in Russia for American companies, sold newspapers in Russia, exported various metals from Russia to people in the UK, US, Germany, Taiwan, Japan and so on, written various bits and pieces for various people and been a PR man for a political party for 10 months.

Quite.

Could be worse, at least you’re not Kenneth Irvine.

@19. Ah, now I understand where you’re coming from.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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