“This is a significantly richer country than 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago,” he [Warren Buffet] declared, backing his assertion with a favorite statistic. The national income, divided by the population, is a very abundant $45,000 per capita, he said, a number that reflects an affluent nation but also obscures the lopsided income distribution intertwined with the prosperity.
“Society should place an initial emphasis on abundance,” Mr. Buffett argued, but “then should continuously strive” to redistribute the abundance more equitably.
No income tax existed in Carnegie’s day to do this, and neither Mr. Buffett nor Mr. Weill push for sharply higher income tax rates now, although Mr. Buffett criticizes the present tax code as unfairly skewed in his favor. Like Carnegie, philanthropy is their preference. “I want to give away my money rather than have somebody take it away,” Mr. Weill said.”
“The new tycoons oppose raising taxes on their fortunes. Unlike Mr. Crandall, neither Mr. Weill nor Mr. Griffin nor most of the dozen others who were interviewed favor tax rates higher than they are today, although a few would go along with a return to the levels of the Clinton administration. The marginal tax on income then was 39.6 percent, and on capital gains, 20 percent. That was still far below the 70 percent and 39 percent in the late 1970s. Those top rates, in the Bush years, are now 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively.”
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