How thoughtful! Inheritor of Oscar Mayer fortune asks billionaires to petition government to increase taxes on many small businesses

Tue, Sep 15, 2009

Taxation, Welfare

“Look, mister, there’s two kinds of dumb.  A guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and a guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don’t matter, the second one you’re kinda forced to deal with.” – George from Hoosiers

So, we just learned of some moon barking in our living room that we’re kinda forced to deal with.

Liberator Online reported that:

Chuck Collins, inheritor of the vast Oscar Mayer fortune and coauthor of a book entitled Robin Hood Was Right, has formed an organization with the unpleasant title of Wealth for the Common Good to…increase the top tax marginal income tax rate from 35% to 39.6% on household incomes over $235,000.”

Why should you care? Well, other than the fact that burdensome taxes are bad for prosperity, most small businesses pay income taxes at the household level so any plan to raise tax rates on incomes is a direct tax hike on small businesses, too – sole proprietorships, partnerships, S-corporations, and family farms.

Choke down that tax increase!

Choke down that tax increase!

Collins is looking for billionaires to sign a petition to deliver to President Obama asking the President to raise taxes on individuals and small businesses that have income of $235K and more.

To put this in perspective, that’s like asking guys who make $100,000 per year to petition the government to increase taxes on people who make $23 per year.

What’s this notion that one person personally feels like he should pay more in taxes, then takes the extra step to decide that everyone who he labels as “rich” ought to be compelled to pay more, too?

What is driving this?  Guilt or compassion?

If compassion, why not give your own wealth to charity and then spend your time persuading others to donate as well, rather than trying to compel them to fund Big Government?

Charities are 120% more efficient, less wasteful, and more accountable than government. But then again, efficiency is a notion that earners, not inheritors, understand.

Chuck Collins inherited his money.  Laudably, he gave much of it away to private charity and for all purposes seems to be a genuine individual who feels compassion for the poor.

That’s wonderful.  But for this same reason, it’s perplexing to us that this inheritor wants to now pull real-earners into a Big Government tax fantasy.

Since Mr. Collins didn’t earn the money he gave away (a characteristic he shares with government), we might forgive him for not knowing how to use it to build the economy.  However, earners do know what to do with their money.  It’s vital to not prevent them from their role of creating value and jobs in the world, helping raise the standard of living for all of us, and building our current and future economy.

We of course advocate for charitable giving, and lots of it.  But if charity just isn’t good enough for Mr. Collins and the billionaires he seeks, there’s no law preventing them from GIVING THEIR OWN MONEY to the government.

Just write a check and send to:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 6D37
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Here’s the website that has all the information he needs.

Why try to marshal the coercive forces of big government to confiscate the wealth of others?

Should we really be surprised that an inheritor of the Oscar Mayer fortune could be such a big wiener?
(OK, that was juvenile but who could resist?)

This kind of thinking has plagued Warren Buffett, too.  He has, on occasion, argued that he should be taxed more and that others should be forced to pay more dollars to the government, too.

When I read the book The Audacity of Hope, the passages highlighting exchanges between Warren Buffett and Barack Obama made me roll my eyes.  Buffett spewed non-sensical platitudes about how “society” has been so good to him and other rich people, rewarding them with wealth, that he and they are somehow morally obligated to pay it back to “society” in the form of … (drum roll) … taxes.

Three things to point out to Buffett.

First, hey, we’re society, not the government.  We’re the ones that buy your insurance and the goods your companies sell, not the government.  You want to give back to society?  We’ll be happy to take that check anytime you’d like.  In the meantime, just keep creating valuable goods and services and we’ll trade with you voluntarily because you’re making our lives better off.

Just stop conflating “society” with “government” Mr. Buffett, OK?

Second, Mr. Buffett does pay more in taxes.  Ten percent of $100 is ten times more than ten percent of $10.  Yes, most of his income is in the form of dividends, not income (and dividends are taxed at a lower rate than income), but he could “remedy” that if he wanted to – just give the difference to the government or change his compensation structure.

Last, our biggest rub with Buffett is that he’s so darn insincere.  When he dies, he’s not giving his money to government.  On the contrary, he’s protecting as much of it as he can from the government – the Bill Gates Charitable Foundation will receive every last penny he controls.

Now, we applaud this!  But we boo the Oracle of Omaha’s hypocrisy to wish higher taxes on others when he full well has spent his life not only legally avoiding them as much as possible, but also directing his fortune away from the Big Government entity he’d like to see others coercively fund.

It was Dick Gephardt who said, “Those who have prospered and profited from life’s lottery have a moral obligation to share their good fortune.”

This erroneous notion of life as “lottery” is what has misled Buffett, too.  It’s a deterministic, fatalistic view of the world wherein some are predestined to succeed and some to fail and those who succeed do so only at the expense of others.

Of course inequities exist – some natural, some artificial – but they are not due to “life’s lottery” and the way to remedy them – if they need to be remedied at all – is not through confiscatory takings.

It’s like the parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper is a fiction to the Gephardts of the world.  It’s as if the Ant really scratched a few numbers on a card and thereby prospered, rather than having worked all summer while the grasshopper played.

Perhaps inheritors such as Chuck Collins could be seen as lottery winners, but they’re not.  Those who bequeathed them money were real earners who made real value in the world and had the right to transfer their private property to whomever they desired when they died.

Big Government has already implemented many “life as lottery” policies and that’s why it instituted a death tax to try and confiscate the property of deceased individuals and, ironically, prevent people like Collins from inheriting money.

In the end, even people like Collins should be able to inherit more than they currently do out of respect for the property rights of those who choose to voluntarily bequeath their private property to others.

If Collins can’t use his wealth to create real prosperity or give it to effective charities, or use his station to encourage wealthy people to voluntarily give, then give it to us and we’ll show him how!

You can let Collins know what you think here.

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13 Responses to “How thoughtful! Inheritor of Oscar Mayer fortune asks billionaires to petition government to increase taxes on many small businesses”

  1. Richard Foster Says:

    I am not kidding but when I was a kid, the Oscar Mayer media advertising went like this (sung to the appropriate music), “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener! That is what I’d truly like to be! Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener! Everyone would take a bite of me!” I remember singing that song and never really thinking what I was singing! Well, now I know what he really wanted to do was to take a bite out of my wallet!

    The real sad thing is that 50% of the American citizens do not pay taxes and they vote on what the other 50% should pay for them! Ouch! Collins must feel guilty about something in his life and he wants to prove how benevolent he is!

    • admin Says:

      How very true. The great tax historian Charles Adams said, “It is just as immoral for the government to grant exemptions as it is for the citizens to hide their income.”

      Charles Adams also related in one of his speeches the story of a man who was complaining about taxes that felt like a “boil on his nose.” When asked where he would like the boil to be instead the man replied, “On somebody else’s back.” And that’s what we have today!

      Here’s a link to Adams’ “A Brief Tax History of America”

  2. jspicer Says:

    Ok well it looks like i will try my very best to no longer buy ANYTHING by oscar meyer.

  3. Mike Walsh Says:

    I remember that Oscar Mayer song…LOL…

    Fact is, the guy didn’t really earn the money, he inherited it. If he had built his own business he’d be singing a different tune right now.

  4. Ken Van Doren Says:

    Richared Foster:

    Wbhile it may be true that some 50% do not pay INCOME taxes, even the poor pay taxes. How? Because taxes can ultimately only be paid by being included in the costs of goods and services. So the price of everything we buy is higher because of taxes.

    True, the poor may not realize this, but when they demand more of what another has earned, it will make all they buy more expensive, or those with money will hire fewer employees, and produce less. And often the jobs lost are at the lower end of the scale. The trick is to make them, and “society” see this.

    One intriguing way suggested by Henry Hazlitt in his book, “Conquest of Poverty” is that if you recieve more in goverNMEnt benefits than you pay in taxes, you are not eligible to vote. This would mean that goverNMEnt employees could not vote. Students could not vote. Makes sense, as it is a conflict of interest for beneficiaries to have say over their benefactors. But think of the different country we would have if we could enforce this.

    As I recall, later versions of hte jingle said, “would be in love with me!”

    And it beats this jingle from Peters Packing company: “YOu can’t beat Peters Meat.” Yep, saw it in my travels.

    • admin Says:

      Excellent points, Ken. And the poor also pay sales tax, which is regressive to them since a greater portion of their income goes toward consumable goods, relative to the incomes of those who are more well off.

      Hazlitt was (IS, forever Will Be!) the man!

  5. George C. Wilbur Says:

    Oh, my. Your representation of an increase in taxes on those who NET over $235,000 per year implied that it was on gross. You know that is not true. I am so sorry for those of you netting that much money per year facing the prospect of paying a fair share of your income to support the system that makes your wealth possible.

    Your display of selfishness, and a willingness to distort the truth for that purpose, is truly sad.

  6. Eric Says:

    Great article. Very well written!

  7. Wilson Says:

    George, the system that makes our wealth possible is not Government. The system that makes wealth possible to the wide spectrum om people who have earned it is the free market/ free enterprise system. In order to “give back” to the system that made their wealth possible they need to keep as much of their earnings as possible and then reinvest those earnings thereby creating more jobs. If you want us to give back, get Government out of our pockets and allow us to spread our wealth through entrepreneurship and charitable giving.

  8. Marcoz Says:

    I dont earn near 235000 per year but am against the concept of increasing taxes to those who do. It is true that earning and inheriting is a totally different story. Being in Europe I already get taxed more than half of my salary even though it is way below 235,000 a year.
    But it’s not the solution. Who controls how the tax money gets spent for real? Sure there are governments but their mere presence costs billions and in Europe governments are outsourcing almost all roadwork and lots of other work because it is more efficient. How is it that a business company that makes profits and pays dividends is more efficient than government run agencies? What is then happening to the thousands of tasks that they are not outsourcing? They must be wasting money by the ton!
    In France the army is now a professional army meaning much less people to uniform, feed, pay, berthe etc. Yet the defense budget is higher! I know of army colonels that have huge houses with a huge staff to keep them happy, not to mention the art collections in their houses. That’s a waste too.
    So it’s not the taxes that are the problem it is how the tax money is wasted due to organizational ineffectiveness and probably not just a little bit of misappropriation.
    That’s why charities are better and I would more than willingly donate the same amount of money I pay in taxes, at least I decide that it will go somewhere helpful.

  9. MD Says:

    George –
    I don’t think you have an understanding of how LLC’s are taxed in the United States. A small business LLC (let’s say with 50 employees) that makes $$250,000 profit needs that capital to grow the business and take risks. It’s a small cushion actually for many small businesses. Much, if not all of those “profits” will go right back into the business to buy inventory or other assets to help the business. Even though the LLC is using the profits to grow the business, the govt taxes them through the nose.

    Small businesses are the life-blood of our economy. If you tax me more, I have to hire less – or worse, fire people. That’s just the stark reality. It’s not greedy… in fact, it’s the opposite. I believe that I know how to put that capital to work to create jobs better than the Federal BIG GOVERNMENT. In fact, I know I can. And it’s not their right to take it from me and spend it on absurd programs etc.

    I don’t blame you for the misconception (it’s somewhat common), but now you know the truth. Go forth and spread it.

  10. Robert Katz Says:

    It is the responsibility of all small business owners to pay their employees a fair enough wage to support their families, pay their creditors (vendors, investors and banks, etc.) and make a decent living.
    If they can excel in any of these categories the government is supposed to assist them in their efforts to grow. Higher taxes on profits prevents growth and is a practice that is about as anti-American (capitalism) as
    one can get. The government is here to protect us from invasion and to protect society from corporate polluters and criminals.
    Small businesses who follow the rules should always look forward to employing more people and growing more successful. It is nothing short of damaging when the government takes more of their profits, which ids their vital seed money for growth and sustainability.

  11. Rich Says:

    It is always interesting to me when people say that the poor pay taxes through their purchasing power. This comes from a lack of understanding of the operation of the economy! If the economy were perfectly elastic, this might be the case. But it is not! When the government increases taxes the market will not always allow the full increase in taxes to be passed on to the consumer. The seller can only mark up the price what the consumer is willing to pay and so part of the increase is absorbed by the tax payer and part is absorbed by the business owner. The poorer the end buyer, the less likely they are able to absorb the cost increase and the more the seller has to absorb. At the same time, small business will have to absorb more of the tax increase than the bigger businesses because they have less gross sales to spread the new costs. (Economics 102)

    Second, the idea that small business has a responsibility to pay their employees a fair wage is absurd. It is the responsibility of the family bread-winner to earn what their family needs and it is the responsibility of the small business owner to stay in business within the bounds of the law. The worker is free to go where they want if the wages are insufficient for their needs and the government will make sure that the business is not operating outside the law. The idea that business is routinely polluting the earth to make a profit is so 1950ish! The government is unprepared and incapable of helping business operate or grow! The best thing the government can do is get out of the way and let capitalism work! (Family 101, Business 103)