Having a net worth over $40 billion may command some authority and attention for one’s views on economics and taxation. But it should not buy one an exemption from basic logic, intellectual integrity, or consistency.
Such seems to be case with Warren Buffett, who yet again took to the op/ed pages of the New York Times this week to call for higher taxes on citizens earning more than $500,000. The idea that higher income people should pay more in taxes, whether born of a desire for greater progressivity and/or a desire to raise more revenue, is certainly a legitimate viewpoint. However, any serious person espousing such an argument should be expected to address several basic questions: What will the standard of fairness be? How is it to be determined that any particular income group is paying its “fair share?” And if taxes are to increase, whether to address the deficit or for “fairness,” what degree of negative impact on economic growth and investment is one willing to tolerate? Regrettably, the recent presidential campaign featured much demagoguery but few answers. Mr. Buffett is no more illuminating.