Those were the words Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times yesterday. It’s this type of self sacrifice for the greater good that sets the Berkshire Hathaway CEO apart from his fellow billionaires. In the column, he states:
“Last year my federal tax bill—the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf—was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income—and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.”
He goes on to suggest ways to rectify the fact that though our leaders talk a lot about shared sacrifice, they seem to forget to ask the insanely rich for their appropriate share.
Already catching flack for the column, Forbes contributor Tim Worstall is skeptical that the Oracle of Omaha did his math correctly, and conservatives at a website called The American Spectator think that if he what he says is true, then the wealthy shouldn’t have to be told to pay more, but they should just do so on their own.
Out of the goodness of their hearts? Yeah, right!
Though “shared sacrifice” hasn’t been a big theme for GOP leaders, this is hardly the first time Buffett has called for change. His letter to Uncle Sam last year, and his rally for “truly major changes in both taxes and outlays” in 2009 haven’t exactly been warmly received either (Big Surprise).
Agree or disagree, he is at least drawing attention to major flaws in the system. He has the potential here to put this issue into perspective, and his money where his mouth is.