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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fair Market


By 3rd Way

Journal Communication's dastardly duo has once again joined forces. This time they are taking aim at one of our planet's do-
gooders. McIlheran and Sykes both linked to a piece that misrepresents Bill Gates as turning his back on capitalism. In reality Gates is putting his money where his mouth is by trying to create capitalists at the grass roots level. Through something he is labeling creative capitalism Gates vows to bring resources, education and market access to some of the poorest people on the planet. In the minds of the far right this somehow equates a rejection of capitalism.

This smear on the altruism of a great philanthropist reminds me of the claims continually made about Warren Buffett and his support for tax progressivity. Whenever the topic of tax progressivity is brought up the right counters by equating progressivity with unfairness and envy. In the case of Buffett they substitute envy for guilt. I will take Buffett's justification for progressivity by judging his own words:

"Ordinary people just drive on the highways; corporations send fleets of trucks. Ordinary people may get a bank loan for their mortgage; corporations borrow money to buy whole companies. Ordinary people rarely use the courts; most of the courts are used for corporate law and contract disputes. Corporations and their investors — those who have accumulated enough money beyond basic needs so they can invest — make much more use, compound use, of the empowering infrastructure provided by everybody's tax money.
The wealthy have made greater use of the common good—they have been empowered by it in creating their wealth—and thus they have a greater moral obligation to sustain it. They are merely paying their debt to society in arrears and investing in future empowerment.

This is the fundamental truth that motivates progressive taxation."

Gates and Buffett know more about wealth creation than any of us ever will. These two men have implemented strategies for asset allocation to wondrous effect. If they think we get the best bang for our buck by providing services for all and paying for it by requiring more from those with the most I will listen. I will take the suggestions of experts over ideologues every time.

The strategies Gates and Buffett advocate for are pragmatic and support an equitable society by bringing the most prosperity to the most people. I hope that someday it will be irrefutably proven what works best and all the world's economies will adopt a similar brand of capitalism. This approach is not going to be winner-take-all capitalism nor statist communism. I like to think of it as a third way.

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