Stupid Billionaire Tricks: Give Charity to MBAs

The Nonprofiteer is at it again, gently suggesting that a Sun Microsystems billionaire isn’t necessarily the world’s authority about how to combat poverty.  But maybe fighting poverty isn’t what he had in mind after all.

Who taught people to say “charity” with a sneer?

The billionaire vs. free-riding multimillionaires

Love this account of a pissing match between Warren Buffett and Mitch McConnell.  The Senator from Kentucky has been urging the Sage of Omaha to make voluntary contributions to the Treasury if he felt he was undertaxed.  Buffett has now responded that he’ll match any such contributions made by Republican Senators.

This dialogue makes in a different form an argument offered by that raving lefty Milton Friedman.  Voluntary contributions to reduce poverty (or do any of the other things we rely on the government to do) are insufficient, because everyone would be willing to pay his/her share only if s/he could be sure that everyone else would be willing to pay his/her share.  Otherwise, no dice.

Doubtless McConnell will ignore Buffett’s challenge and continue his nonsensical bluster about Buffett’s freedom to pay extra if he feels “guilty” about his low tax rate.  But the point isn’t, of course, how Buffett feels, or even what he does—it’s what everyone else does.  And if McConnell and his buddies don’t donate to the Treasury, then they are poster children for the free-rider problem—thereby proving Buffett right: philanthropy is not sufficient and taxation is necessary.

H/T the indispensable Rick Cohen at The Nonprofit Quarterly.

Voluntary Taxation?

Warren Buffett’s recent NY Times op-ed advocating higher taxes on the wealthy (“Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” Aug. 15) provoked a response that was vacuous even by the Right’s recent standards.  As Jack LeMenanger of Winchester, MA, wrote in his letter to the editor, for example, “If Warren E. Buffett wants to pay more in taxes, no one is stopping him.”  Andrew Roth, VP of Government Affairs for the Club for Growth, agreed: “Nothing is stopping him from sending a larger check to the Internal Revenue Service as if higher tax rates applied to him.”  But unless these authors can point to an example of a successful society that relies on voluntary tax payments, their objection makes no sense.

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