From Alex Green:
I'm a longtime admirer of Warren Buffett.
He taught me a lot about stock investing, including the most important thing about it I know: Forget about outguessing the market and focus instead on identifying businesses that are selling for less than they are worth.
While Buffett is a genius at equity analysis, he is no expert on government policy issues. And so it was with regret that I read his New York Times Op-Ed piece this week calling for higher taxes on the nation's top income earners.
I won't bore you with arguments about fairness or job creation or economic growth. The truth is confiscatory tax rates won't change the slightest thing about the national debt crisis we face. And every American should understand why.
Imagine that your 18-year-old son goes off to college for the first term of his freshman year. You are happy to pay for his education costs – room, board, tuition, books, etc. – but you also give him a credit card "in case of emergencies."
When he comes home for Christmas, you discover that he has run up $70,000 on his MasterCard. You hit the roof and demand an explanation.
"Now hold on, Dad," he says. "Before we start talking about how much less I might spend, let's talk about how much more money you're going to give me."
Consider your response – and whether it would be printable in a family paper. Yet Congress makes our hypothetical spendthrift look like a piker.
Most reasonably well-informed Americans know that our $16.1-trillion federal budget deficit is now larger than the nation's GDP. But what most don't realize is this figure doesn't include the unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Prescription Drug Benefit. That's another $121.6 trillion. Combine the federal budget deficit with the unfunded liabilities for current entitlement programs (excluding Obamacare) and it comes to a mindboggling $1.2 million per taxpayer.
Some will argue that this is exactly why we need to stick it to the ultra-rich, an approach that has clear populist appeal. But here's a bit of perspective. Less than a hundred years ago, the nation's richest man, John D. Rockefeller, could have written a personal check and paid off all the entire national debt, every penny accumulated since 1776. Today, the government could confiscate the entire net worth of the nation's wealthiest man, Bill Gates, and it wouldn't pay six weeks' interest on the national debt.
Our elected misrepresentatives have spent so recklessly, promised so promiscuously, and behaved so immodestly, that raising the revenue required to meet future outlays isn't just difficult, it's impossible...
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