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John Hoffmire: For the wealthy, tax it or give it away: If those are the choices, which is it?

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  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    May 14, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    This so-called "giving pledge" sounds sort of interesting... But it should have nothing to do with wealth.

    Whether I have $100,000 or $1,000,000,000 in assets is irrelevant; if I give a significant amount of my time and resources to others it is good. If I do not, it is my fair and just decision not to, and having $1 billion doesn't make me any greedier than $100k.

    If it is expected of me to give my money, it is not charity. If I am compulsed, not only is it not charity, it is effectively theft. it is disappointing that I must be constantly aware of this fact today.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    May 13, 2014 3:23 p.m.

    Fred44,

    Thanks for the Brigham Young quote, it appeared in the Sunday School class I taught recently and was the first thing that came to my mind reading some of these comments. I can only add that anyone who thinks that the Book of Mormon endorses gaining riches, or implies support for a 'prosperity gospel' of any kind, has missed some key readings.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    May 13, 2014 2:22 p.m.

    "Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don't resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That's what America's all about." President Barack Obama

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 13, 2014 1:27 p.m.

    To all of you conservatives who are saying things such as "I certainly can't tell them how to spend their money. Its theirs," please consider that it is only "theirs" because of the society we all help provide, where they can take advantage of a great (but crumbling) infrastructure, a federally maintained monetary system, (a dwindling number of ) consumers with enough money to buy their products, laborers who agree to sell their time for shrinking wages, etc.

    And for all you Christians out there, please consider what these individuals are going to say when they stand before their Maker and try to convince him it was really "theirs." I doubt he'll be amused. My guess is he will smile warmly upon Warren Buffett. Buffett seems to get it.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    May 13, 2014 10:28 a.m.

    To "Open Minded Mormon" yes, I do see the rich doing that all the time.

    Jon Huntsman Sr. is administering relief to the sick and afflicted through the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

    Glenn Beck supports the Operation Underground Railroad that sends experts and law enforcement into situations to free girls that have been sold into slavery, thus liberating the captive.

    Mitt Romney lead a campaign for and donated to the Red Cross to buy food and clothing for victims of hurricain Sandy. In addition to the food and funding drive he also donated large sums money for Hurricain Sandy and Katrina. Romney also shut down his office, few his staff to New York, and paid for the search for the daughter of one of his employees.

    The Rockefellers have a foundation that provides food for needy people in Africa.

    I see all sorts of good being done by the wealthy because they have money to be able to do large scale aid projects. Most of the wealthy that I read about in the news are often going out and are doing good with their wealth. I am sorry that you can't see the good that the wealthy do.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 13, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    Redshirt1701
    Deep Space 9, Ut
    To "Open Minded Mormon" why do you hate the rich so much? Why don't you want to be rich? According to the Book of Mormon, being rich can be a good thing.

    Jacob 2:19 "And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted." Why don't you want to do good or allow others to do good with their riches? I would love to have the ability to help more people.

    =========

    And when the rich do that - I have no problem whatsoever.

    Tell me RedShirt,
    Do you see this happening?

    Peovide specifics.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 13, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    It is funny we pull scriptures out to condemn the poor, but we do not pull them out to condemn the rich. "To whom much is given, much will be required" (Luke 12:48. Or Brigham Young's warning: “The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; If we are going to quote scripture to criticize the poor lets also quote it to criticize the rich.

    The belief that this would be a better country if tax and regulatory policies where changed to favor those on the lower end of the economic scale is not coveting someone else's money, it is simply an economic reality based in fact in this country prior to the 1980's.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    May 13, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    To "Open Minded Mormon" why do you hate the rich so much? Why don't you want to be rich? According to the Book of Mormon, being rich can be a good thing.

    Jacob 2:19 "And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted." Why don't you want to do good or allow others to do good with their riches? I would love to have the ability to help more people.

    Next, why do you go against the Doctrine and Covenants, when it speaks out against taking from the wealthy to give to the lazy and greedy?

    D&C 56:17 "Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!"

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 13, 2014 5:13 a.m.

    Pops -

    There is nothing all that admirable about the mega-players who play the stock market, and through various tricks of manipulation and arbitrage, make huge amounts of money for themselves.

    Who is proposing a tax on wealth?

    It's the tax on INCOME that needs to be addressed.

    The over 90 percent nominal tax during the Eisenhower administration did not "tax away wealth."

    Plenty of people still got wealthy, AND the nation paid its bills.

    A return to Pre-Reagan tax rates for the highest earners, 70%, would bump revenue back up where it should be.

    I say, do what works, and Reagonomics does NOT work. The tax rate for the highest earners is 1/2 of what it was before Reagan. And before Reagan, we actually balanced the budget every now and then and consistently kept budget deficits low.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

    Advocating more Reagonomics and expecting better results is INSANE.

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:33 p.m.

    One of the important details most of us miss in all of this is that many wealthy people are wealthy only on paper. They don't necessarily have a lot of money. What they usually have is stock in a private or public corporation. The stock has a monetary value because they have created something of value. They have made a profitable business where one did not exist before. They have created wealth.

    Threats to tax away this wealth, then, are synonymous with threats of taking from them, by force, ownership of the corporation they have created. It's saying, "you cannot be allowed to have control of this corporation because you have been too successful at running it." If it's a private corporation, they could be forced to sell the company to pay the taxes. That's absurd.

    The same problem exists with the estate tax. Businesses have to be sold and farms broken up and sold to pay the estate tax. This is pure nonsense.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 12, 2014 5:52 p.m.

    Hey Redshirt –

    There’s a fine line between crony capitalism, and effective governance that get things done. It might be said that Crony capitalism is inherent to Capitalism.

    It looks to me like you can only see extremes. There is a middle way. It’s called moderation, and that’s what we Moderates advocate . . . government, but not too much government . . . Just the right amount.

    “You should realize that croney capitalism is highly regulated capitalism.’

    Wrong.

    Well regulated capitalism can and does diminish the worst sorts of crony capitalism.

    A Democratic Republic that becomes so weak that it gives up its power to Oligarchs is no longer a Democratic Republic. It’s an Oligarchy. And that’s the wrong kind of government to have. That is not what the Constitution advocates.

    “Ayn Rand does not support unfettered capitalism.”

    Wrong again. Ayn Rand shuns ANY government intercession that might restrain the biggest Capitalist (and potential Oligarchs) from having their way.

    The only way to have healthy competitive Capitalism is to have a certain amount of government control. Otherwise capitalism will always mutate to the Monopolitic/Oligopolistic/Oligarchic variety.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 4:34 p.m.

    When a person says I made a lot of money and I did it all by himself, he is not being realistic or honest. The truth is that he was able to play the game of life with more skill than others and may have had some fortunate luck to help.

    All wealth is created by the physical or mental labor of human beings. Some people are able to tap into the wealth of labor by skillfully buying and selling the wealth created by others. And even though they may work very hard at what they are doing, the manipulation of the wealth of others does not create wealth. It's not that they are unnecessary to our society, the creation of wealth doesn't do any good if there are no buyers.

    If we want a good working economic system that serves society properly, wealth must be able to flow back and forth from the creators to the manipulators. And not be horded into the wealth of the rich. The best way to do that is to have the person give back to society his excess money at the time of his death.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    Re: Mike Richards "I do not applaud those who covet the wealth of others. I believe in working not wishing."

    I do not covet anything anybody else has. I am however AFRAID of the super wealthy who have declared war on all economic safety nets including social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, and all private pensions. Apparently they don't just want most of it, they want ALL of it. My opposition to them is borne of self defense.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 12, 2014 3:56 p.m.

    RedShirt
    USS Enterprise, UT

    3:14 p.m. May 12, 2014

    =====

    Thanks for once again showing your True colors.

    The Fawning, Mesmorizing and Worshipping of the Wealthy,
    vs.
    utter distain, mockery, and trampling of the poor, sick and the needy.

    sort of like --

    Coveting, Babylon, Idol Worship, Selfishness and Mammon
    vs.
    Compassion, Liberalism, Charity, and Christlike Love.

    Nice.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 12, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    re: LDS Liberal/Open Minded Mormon,

    You wrote: "The vast amount of fortune in this country is in the hands a very, very select few.
    Most of whom did NOTHING but be born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

    THEY did nothing to deserve it,
    They DO nothing to keep and earn it."

    Whose decision is it whether someone has enough, not enough, or too much? It seems that you want to judge others according to whatever standard you think is appropriate. For the vast majority of people in the world, your salary would be a king's fortune. Does that mean that you should divest yourself of any wealth greater than those people have? Do you work harder than they do? Are you sure?

    ===

    Good people help other people as much as they are able. It would be counterproductive to sell a business, causing people to lose their jobs, to "give" money to the poor; but, there is no reason that a charitable person could not live modestly while giving his "excess" to an organization that helps the poor.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 12, 2014 3:14 p.m.

    To "Tyler D" your ignorance is showing. Ayn Rand does not support unfettered capitalism.

    You should realize that croney capitalism is highly regulated capitalism. It is nearly equivalent to Fascism where the state micromanages privately held businesses.

    You still don't get it. You can't have unfettered oligarcs where the government has little power. For an oligarchy to work, government has to have significant power. If government is little more than a referee the amount of corruption possible diminishes significantly. There is little for businesses to gain if little power can be purchased.

    You are also ignoring the fact that most wealthy people did not inherit their wealth, they built it themselves. Again, why can't we pass wealth along to our kids, regardless of the amount? What did the government do to earn that money?

    To "Open Minded Mormon" you say that we should not allow people to inherit fortunes in theiis country because they did nothing to deserve it or to earn it. So, why keep supporting government welfare or Social Secuity? What did the poor and elderly do to deserve the money that I earn, why are they entitled to benefit from my labor?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 12, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    I applaud anyone who gives away his fortune while he is alive. I applaud anyone who uses his fortune to provide jobs for others. I applaud anyone who risks his fortune to build a business that provides goods and services to others.

    I do not applaud those who covet the wealth of others. I believe in working not wishing.

    2:40 p.m. May 12, 2014

    ========

    So do I,

    BUT --

    The vast amount of fortune in this country is in the hands a very, very select few.
    Most of whom did NOTHING but be born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

    THEY did nothing to deserve it,
    They DO nothing to keep and earn it.

    I do not applaud those who DO nothing for everything they have.
    I do not applaud anyone who has more than enough,
    and is still unwilling to redistribute the work of America's workers as measured by GDP under a false sense of "entitlement".

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 12, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    @RedShirt – “Imagine you have $1 million to leave to your kids…”

    You’re arguing with a self-created straw man. Please reread my 1st comment where I said the $5M tax free cap is about right.

    As for wealth accumulation, you’re only half right (as is so often the case for partisans). But the pernicious effects of concentrated wealth can also happen in an unregulated economy too where producers overtime will seek to destroy competition and create entrenched monopolies and oligarchies, or at a minimum will seek to create an unlevel playing field for their family or class, which is precisely what large inherited wealth does (creating an entitled class of those who are “born on third and think they hit a triple”).

    The cartoon world of an Ayn Rand novel notwithstanding, unfettered capitalism can be just as damaging as a centrally planned economy (as Adam Smith pointed out often).

    But you’re right about crony government and it starts with lobbyists writing laws (often at the expense of the public interest) and unlimited campaign contributions.

    Is a society of unfettered oligarchs what you want?

    Reached comment limit…

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 12, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    re: Open Minded Mormon/LDS Liberal,

    Do you own everything you have or have you already joined some kind of communistic society where the State owns everything? As far as I know, the Church that you belong to is not practicing the United Order, leaving you to find some other society to practice what you preach. If you actually own anything, using your own definition, you first "coveted" that thing.

    ===

    Everyone is free to give away his wealth. It does seem strange, however, that some people wait until they are dead to do it. They want to enjoy their wealth while they're alive. If they believed in helping others, wouldn't they want to help others while they were alive?

    I applaud anyone who gives away his fortune while he is alive. I applaud anyone who uses his fortune to provide jobs for others. I applaud anyone who risks his fortune to build a business that provides goods and services to others.

    I do not applaud those who covet the wealth of others. I believe in working not wishing.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 12, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    To "Tyler D" why shouldn't your kids beneifit from your labor if you want them to. Imagine you have $1 million to leave to your kids. They still owe money on their homes and have kids to raise. Wouldn't you want them to receive that wealth so that they can get out of debt and have the means to send your grandchildren to college?

    Also, if we use your argument, then why continue Social Security or any welfare program. The retired people and poor didn't earn what they are getting. Why are they more important than your own children and grandchildren?

    You are wrong about society and the accumulation of wealth. The dangerous accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few people is a symptom of big government and an overreaching government. It is not a direct result of wealth and wealthy people. If you look at the former USSR, North Korea, Cuba, and other highly regulated countries, the wealth in those nations is concentrated into the hands of a few.

    If you truely want the poor to prosper, cut the regulations back and make people responsible for their lives.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 12, 2014 1:44 p.m.

    What's funny is reading some commentors who tell us they "believe" that God created this Earth, and owns everything.

    Whining and complainging about "ownership",
    and how nobody can take away anything that they "own".

    Kind of reminds me of someone else I know claiming a false sense of "ownership" of everything in this world.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 12, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    @RedShirt – “Why do we keep allowing the government to take our children's inheritance?”

    Perhaps because they did nothing to earn it… again, if you don’t like it, funnel your money into productive/charitable enterprises while you’re alive.

    @RedShirt – “… conservatives don't believe that we are a "meritocracy".”

    Thanks for this (unintentional?) bit of honesty… I wish more partisans on both the right and left would tell us what they really think rather than hiding their true motives behind a veneer of shared values.

    See for me, I believe in a meritocracy (vs. an aristocracy) which is again why I believe large amounts of inherited wealth is damaging not only to those who inherit the money but to society at large.

    Look at history – all societies in the past were eventually undone by the ever growing power and influence of those at the top of the pyramid, and the first step in creating this pyramid is through inherited wealth (which eventually morphs into a de facto nobility… it’s what we had in the antebellum South and were beginning to see in the Gilded Age and again today).

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 1:29 p.m.

    To explain what's going on with capitalism one needs to have Marx's critique of same "Capital" in 3 vols. Since none of you conservatives (or liberals for that matter) are going to look at it, and like most people will have a hard time understanding it, economists have to come to the rescue and include it in their coursework. This they refuse to do because they won't be hired as profs - so much for the assumption of leftist bias in higher ed.

    We socialists are going to be having some free-to-the-public seminars on "Capital." We'll let you know just in case you want to stock up on spoiled fruit.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    Have it taken... or GIVE it away... let's see.... that one's pretty much a no-brainer IMO.

    How many people would prefer to be mugged and have their money taken away... vs give to people they WANT to help...?

    No-brainer...

    I'd rather give away all I have... if the alternative is to have it taken away from me against my will by somebody... That's just human nature!

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    May 12, 2014 1:26 p.m.

    Mike Richards - such a literalist as yourself surely recognizes that nobody "owns" anything. He or she is only given moral guidelines for their stewardship over assets "owned" by another. The only "moral" justification for obtaining wealth is sharing wealth.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    May 12, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    So who is more "charitable"?

    1) The employer who pays an American worker a "living wage" (e.g. $60,000) to run a machine that makes a million widgets.

    2) The employer who instead opens a factory in China, India, or other place and pays 20 workers $2000 each to make those same widgets. Most of us consider it "slave" wages to work all year for a lousy $2000, but for many of those workers it is a lot better than the alternative (begging for money and rummaging through the garbage for food).

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    To "liberal larry" conservatives don't believe that we are a "meritocracy". Conservatives believe that if you risk your money and reputation on a business, you should be able to benefit from that. There are a lot of dumb people that have accumulated large fortunes through sheer luck or by surrounding themselves with people who could make things work.

    To "LDS Liberal" tell us who covets more. The wealthy person who pays their employees a fair wage (you decide what fair is) or the employee who receives the fair wage and wants more from their employer?

    Most employers pay their employees a fair wage. If you disagree with that, come up with a definition of fair that does not depend on an opinion, tell us how to measure "fair".

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    I liked what billionaire Jon Huntman Sr. did...

    Gave each of his 9 children $10 million -
    Which he said was MORE than anyone could possilbe need --
    and the rest of HIS wealth is going to Philanthropic causes.

    I have no qualms with the wealthy who are like this --
    God Bless Jon Huntsman.

    But for every 1 Jon Huntman billionaires there are in the world,
    There are 1,000 more who aren't.

  • Ken Sandy, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:30 p.m.

    @Schnee - You must not be very familiar with anti-trust law. Our country has every strict anti-trust laws which ensure that competing parties will offer a fair price.

    You are not exactly correct in saying the rich make the pay "decision." The rich may make pay "offers" but they do not make the decisions on whether that offer is accepted. If I deserve to make more money than I am making, anti-trust laws make it so that a competitor will exist and will offer me more money if I will simultaneously increase the profits of the competitor as well as my own salary. If I'm not valuable enough for a competitor to want me, I don't deserve to make any more than I am currently. Remember, its another evil rich person at the competitor - and if I'll make him more money then due to his greedy nature he'll be willing to pay me more. Here, two rich people made pay "offers" to me, and I make the decision.

    Its up to ME to make it so I make more money. And yes, it is in my control.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    May 12, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    If conservatives really believed America was a meritocracy they would be in favor of increasing the inheritance tax.

    Giving vast sums of money to our children not only allows them to waste away their lives as the idle rich, but it also shows them that you don't have any confidence that the children can make it on their own.

    So not giving money to your offsprings is a way of demonstrating your confidence in their ability to succeed!

    Hard work and individual achievement have long been values held dear by conservatives.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    Democrats have never seen a tax (on somebody else)... they didn't like.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    Lets look first at who is saying that the wealthy should give their money to charity. It is Warren Buffett, the same man who also said that the rich should pay more in taxes. If he thinks that he should pay more in taxes, why is he preventing the government from getting their hands on his fortunes?

    Next, look at what our government is doing to inheritance laws. You can spend a lifetime building your wealth, you are taxed on every dollar that you get. Then, when you die the government taxes it again so that they can be included on your inheritance. The only way to keep the government out of it is to give it all away.

    You can no longer easily leave your money to your kids to benefit them and your grandchildren. Why do we keep allowing the government to take our children's inheritance?

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    That's called coveting. Coveting is immoral.

    =======

    So, in other words...
    If no one can "own" anything, then coveting ceases to exist.
    And the world becomes less immoral.

    BTW --
    The uber-wealthy wanting the wealth that their employees produce is just as much coveting as your definition of it.

    So is being idle.
    The uber-wealthy can be just as lazy and "idle" as the poor begger.

    I for one applaud "The Giving Pledge", and those who have signed on to it.
    If the world's wealthy would all be so wise,
    We would not need to tax and redistribute their wealth FOR them.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    @Chris B
    Here's the problem though... it's the rich who determine who gets what share of the money since they're making pay decisions. It's not like money "earned" is determined by some fair and impartial neutral source. Let's try something we can agree on, in some third world nations the poor get exploited having to work many hours for little pay, the pay controlled by the company and those in charge. Wealth inequality is massive in those nations, even much more so than the US which is near the most inequality for industrialized nations. Heck, a couple centuries ago we had slavery, the ultimate extreme of power being used to suppress workers and deciding where money should go.

    So the question is... how do we make sure that employers are being reasonable in how pay gets distributed in the company without using force (which we do use to some extent through things like the minimum wage)?

  • Don Bugg Prince Frederick, MD
    May 12, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    JoeCapitalist2 said, "...it is not my place to demand that action [salary increases] if the market shows that workers are willing to do the work for less."

    I'm not sure the market shows workers are WILLING to work for less. It appears to me they are FORCED to work for less, and the less they're forced to work for is inadequate, in many, many cases, to give people a standard of living above that of constant desperation, inability to save, and inability to pay for health care.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 12, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist2 – “Nobody in or out of government would have a reason to speed along their date with the grim reaper under your system, right?”

    You’ve made a number of comments in the past that while I don’t always agree with, I at least respect for being reasonable… this is not one of them.

    So now the government is assassinating rich people because they failed to do some simple estate planning? Wow!

    The next time you hear someone saying the Right has gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs lately, just refer back to your response for a little insight into why reasonable people think so.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 11:30 a.m.

    In the capitalism of today a few (very) are free to accumulate without limit, while the rest (most of us) struggle to survive. This, at least to me, seems less than optimal.

  • mcdugall Murray, UT
    May 12, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist2 - If the government did take the money from the elite wealthy, image how much larger our defense spending could be?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    But the writer leaves aside the question, how are the wealthy, the super-super wealthy getting so wealthy? Do they work harder than the average guy? Not likely.The French economist Piketty's work "Capital in the 21st Century" will be a topic on tonight's PBS Newshour. Piketty answers this question to a great degree, at least I have been given to understand. I haven't read his book (600 pages by a statistician - yikes!).

    Despite the title of Piketty's work, he is not a Marxist. He is in fact a modern day Keynes who wants to save capitalism from itself. To Piketty, like Keynes before him, capitalism is best but unless tempered in some way it will result in a situation where almost all of the rewards go to the top with nothing going to the bottom. That's whats happening now.

    AS a socialist I think we only have a future with some brand of socialism. That's a topic for another time. In the meantime watch the discussion of Piketty tonight.

  • Ken Sandy, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    happy valley,

    You are the one, not Chris, who is correlating poor with lazy. Chris says the lazy are people who think Buffet owes them what he has earned. Those people may be rich, poor, old, young. There have been times in my life I was very poor and yet even in those years I never looked towards the affluent expecting them to give more than they were already given. So while I fell under the "poor" group I didn't fall under the group Chris is referring to. Never once I have felt I deserve an affluent persons money upon their death.

    And yet you are equating the two - incorrectly. I would ask you please not equate lazy with poor. You are the one who has done this, not Chris.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    Tyler D:

    I'm sure Buffet, Gates, Zuckerberg, and a whole bunch of other rich people would sleep very well each night under such a confiscatory estate tax. Imagine if all their wealth over a couple million $ automatically went to the government for redistribution (to some bureaucrat's cronies no doubt), in the event of their demise.

    Nobody in or out of government would have a reason to speed along their date with the grim reaper under your system, right?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    I remember when Bill Clinton was in office and the media reported on his charitable contributions... The list was small, it included a donation of used clothing to a local thrift store (their DI). Clinton groupies ran to the thrift store trying to get a pair of Bill Clinton's used underwear... it was hilarious.

    The Clinton's weren't "rich" before being plopped in the White House. But they made out very well during their time in office (and after). They are one of America's wealthy families now (Spent $3.3 Million on Chelsea's lavish, star studded wedding ceremony).

    Google "Stingiest Politicians"...

    "In the eight years after President Bill Clinton left office, he and Hillary soared north through the tax brackets, earning a combined $109 million. Much of that wealth came from blockbuster memoir sales and huge speaking fees. During those eight years, tax returns show they recorded $10.2 million in charitable contributions, or 9.35 percent of their income. Most of those contributions went straight into the Clinton Foundation—a charity founded by the Clintons to focus on issues like healthcare, climate change, and economic development"

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 12, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist2 – “So it really isn't THEIR money… right?”

    Not after they’re gone… then it belongs to someone else.

    @liberal larry – “There is no benefit to society to let huge wealth perpetuate itself.”

    That’s right… and the smart billionaires are recognizing this and leaving very little of their fortunes to their kids (enough for a good head start but not enough to create lazy trust fund babies).

    The current estate tax gets it about right (although the rate is far too low) with a tax free cap of around $5M. After that taxes kick in.

    But any estate taxes can still be largely avoided if the rich do what Buffett and others have done which is to direct the transfer of their wealth (while they’re alive) to charity or any productive organization they deem worthy. This largely guarantees their wealth is channeled into productive endeavors which they are free to decide.

    But willing large fortunes to your children – which almost always results in disastrous consequences – should be greatly discouraged (by tax policy) since throughout history this has done little more than serve to entrench aristocracies and oligarchic elites.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    Chris B said:
    "I'd be lazy if I thought that Buffet owed me(through taxes) money he earns any more than I owe him money I earn.
    Him and I use about the same govt resources, so there is no reason he should pay for my share.
    That would make me lazy if I said that."

    You really love that word Lazy, Does it make you feel better to define the less affluent in such a way.
    Hard working poor folks who deserve a piece of the pie they're creating are not LAZY, Covetous, greedy or most of the things conservatives believe about them.

    Chris said: "Him and I use about the same govt resources,"
    ...with super simple thinking like that how could you be wrong, You seriously believe your on equal footing, using Americas resources with a billionaire? Laughable.

    Shouting how charitable and goodly you are, while belittling the widow for her mite is so conservative.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 12, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    How a person spends his money is no business of the government or of the people. YOU have the right to spend your money on those things that YOU find important. YOU have the choice of living in a sleeping bag on "federal land" or of buying a house. YOU have the choice of eating berries that you find on "public property" or of buying groceries from a store. Yet, YOU want to take that privilege away from others, just because they have more money than you do.

    That's called coveting. Coveting is immoral.

    It's hard to know which organization is "worthy" of receiving our gifts. We give blood. During the last two months, we have had constant calls from the organization that collects blood. They know when we last gave blood. They know how long we have to wait until giving blood again, yet they call to remind us that they need our blood. We give it freely, but those who receive it pay dearly for our "gift".

    What is "given" should not be taxed or "sold". It should be given freely to those in need.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    LDS Liberal:

    I agree that it would be very noble of wealthy individuals to give all their workers a higher salary. But it is not my place to demand that action if the market shows that workers are willing to do the work for less.

    America would be in a much better place if all the companies who are currently sitting on a huge pile of cash and who pay their senior executives outrageous salaries would voluntarily "spread the wealth" within their own organizations. But again, it is not our place to demand that they do this.

    First, spread your own wealth voluntarily by paying more than you have to for goods and services, then talk about spreading other people's wealth.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    Its no surprise that studies show that conservatives give both more money and a higher percentage of their income to charity compared to liberals.

    Mitt Romney has given more to charity than barack both in terms of total dollars and percentage of income, EVEN if you deduct what Mitt gave to his church.

    What biden has given is a joke, averaging just a couple percent of his income for many years, some years .1%, one tenth of one percent of his income.

    For liberals, its a do as I say not as I do when it comes to charity.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    JoeCapitalist2
    Orem, UT
    LDS Liberal: "But, IF they are not freely giving it away -- TAX them!"

    So it really isn't THEIR money. It's mine and yours and we should take it away from them, right?

    ========

    There "fairest" giving SHOULD be in the form of wage increases --
    since it was those who worked who actually created their wealth in the 1st place.

    Charitable giving would be next.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    larry,

    The money you earn in your life is yours. Its not mine. If you want to give it to your kids, or flush it down the toilet at the end of your life - that's your decision.

    I would be lazy and wrong to suggest you owe that money to me when you die. You don't. I didn't earn it.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    May 12, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    Its amazing that noted bleeding hearts like Buffet and Gates are going to give away most of their fortunes.

    We live in great country with opportunities for any person to make money, and that is why the inheritance tax is such a good idea. Each of us gets to battle it out to make a few dollars, and then like ending a game of Monopoly, we give the money back to the bank, and let the next players try their hand.

    There is no benefit to society to let huge wealth perpetuate itself.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    It would be interesting to see where the money actually goes. I've seem some studies on the charitable giving of the wealthy. it seems that they give a great deal to their alma-maters and a great deal to cultural and arts organizations, but very little to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.

    When most of us think of charity we're not thinking of Harvard Business School, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, or the Metropolitan Opera, yet that is where the majority of charitable donations from the wealthy seem to end up.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    May 12, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    LDS Liberal: "But, IF they are not freely giving it away -- TAX them!"

    So it really isn't THEIR money. It's mine and yours and we should take it away from them, right?

    Look, I understand some of the concern people have that wealth is being concentrated in the hands of few people. We need a fair tax policy that insures that the wealthy pay their portion of taxes (and no, more than 50% is not fair). We also want to make sure that the rich are earning their money in a legal manner and not getting special favors from government.

    But if they earned it, we have no right to take it all from them just because we don't like how they are spending their money. If we let government take all the rich people's money, it doesn't take long before they are doing the same thing to everyone above the poverty line.

    You may vote to take money from others, but don't be surprised when the governments hand is on your wallet too.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 12, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    Wealthy people are not stupid (most of them). They know they can get more bang for their buck if they donate it and control how it is used... instead of just giving it to the Government and HOPING they use it for stuff they would like (knowing most of it goes to government cronies and bureaucratic waste). But a little of it gets used for good stuff. But they probably want ALL of it to get used for good stuff. I know... selfish...

    I am constantly amazed at the level of giving I see from some uber-wealthy people. I wish I could give like them. But I can't... so I just do what I can.

    But I try to refrain from vilifying them (knowing they give much much more to charity and to society than I do).

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 12, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    Agreed!

    John Hoffmire is spot on with this article.

    Conservatives preach to us time and time again,
    That taxation doesn't work.

    Show me, don't tell me.

    But,
    IF they are not freely giving it away --
    TAX them!

    BTW -- It's that how our tax system - and it's tax write offs - is supposed to work?

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    Its great what some of these people have chosen to do, but I certainly can't tell them how to spend their money. Its theirs.

    If a rich person who has earned a lot of money wants to give his money to charity, give it to his kids, spend every dollar, or throw it away - that's his decision. A rich person doesn't owe me his money(through taxes).

    I'd be lazy if I thought that Buffet owed me(through taxes) money he earns any more than I owe him money I earn.

    Him and I use about the same govt resources, so there is no reason he should pay for my share.

    That would make me lazy if I said that.