Friday, September 30, 2011

Warren Buffett's latest thoughts on "class warfare"

As Greg Sargent points out, some remarks by the politically incorrect billionaire Warren Buffett in a CNN interview this morning put the ludicrous right-wing sloganeering about "class warfare" in perspective (the boldings are Sargent's):
QUESTIONER: Are you happy seeing your suggestion, this new Buffett Rule, becoming more of a basis of a political battle that really has turned into class warfare?

BUFFETT: Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.

If you look at the 400 highest taxpayers in the United States in 1992, the first year for figures, they averaged about $40 million of [income] per person. In the most recent year, they were $227 million per person — five for one. During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income. So, if there’s class warfare, the rich class has won.
And during the past three decades, of course, average earnings for the great majority of the work force remained essentially flat, even before the current economic crash (for example, see Lane Kenworthy's summary in the last graph here). Let's forget about taxes for a moment. The fact that this dramatic increase in income inequality has not become a significant political issue is a scandal, and a sign of deep pathology in our political system.

—Jeff Weintraub