There’s a growing chorus of rich people making a surprising demand: “Raise our taxes!”
Warren Buffett sounded off last month at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, saying the rich should pay a more-fair share of taxes. He said that he surveyed his employees at Berkshire headquarters and found that all of them — down to the secretaries — paid a higher share of their income to taxes in 2006 than he did. And Mr. Buffett is the second-richest man in America. He told the group he uses no tax shelters, employs no tax planner and pays a mere 17.7%.
Now comes an even more passionate argument from Bill Gross, the billionaire bond king at Pimco. In a post on the Pimco site, Mr. Gross says today’s rich didn’t get rich simply through pluck and smarts — they got there by “taking risks with other people’s money” and through “low taxes.” The rich are sailing off into their own world of privilege because “it is in fact society’s wind and its current willingness to nurture the rich that fills their sails.”
Mr. Gross acknowledges that American capitalism and free markets have brought great benefits to society: They have “fostered and encouraged innovation and globalization which are the fundamental building blocks of wealth.” (And he should know, having made a bundle when Pimco was sold to Allianz.) But today’s rich, he says, have gone too far.
Mr. Gross writes that “now is the time, long overdue in fact, to admit that for the rich, for the mega-rich of this country, that enough is never enough, and it is therefore incumbent upon government to rectify today’s imbalances.”
My previous criticism of Robert Frank may have been premature because I have to admit I am enjoying his blog.