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Subject:  Re: Repubs vs Dems Date:  10/8/2003  2:41 AM
Author:  TMFCheeze Number:  126642 of 883483

And if Bill GAtes makes 5 billion a year, and pays 1.5 billion in income taxes, you want him to pay even more, huh? Just because he is 'wealthy'. Does he really get 1.5 billion in 'services' from the gov't????

That is quite the point. Bill Gates doesn't pay $1.5 billion in taxes he earns, because he hasn't paid a dime in taxes on the Microsoft stock he holds. Those are unrealized capital gains, and they aren't subject to taxes of any kind unless he sells them. Warren Buffett has never paid a dime in taxes on his tens of billions in Berkshire Hathaway wealth, and likely never will.

These are two of the most successful capitalists in the history of money, and I applaud their success. But beyond their mere ability to generate value and build institutions that really serve a network of millions of stakeholders in their enterprises -- shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities that surround them -- these great entrepreneurs have a real sense of civic duty. They understand that capitalism has its limits, and that there is a place for taxes and governments, and sound reason for giving back to the society that made it possible for them to build the great fortunes they have created. Both of these great business leaders have therefore been staunch advocates of liberal tax policies, most especially with regard to estate taxes -- the tax slandered by conservatives as the "death tax" -- understanding that its repeal would unfairly allow them to escape taxation altogether (the right wing's wet dream, but quite obviously an unfair way to build a responsible society).

You go look at the dollar in your pocket. It doesn't say "This Belongs To Telegraph" on it. It says "Federal Reserve Note." That means it is not merely a possession of yours to be wilfully hoarded. What it is is a social contract, a guarantee to all who use these dollars that it will represent some kind of social value, an expectation that the system of exchange it makes possible will allow commerce to take place. It only has value because of a grand social agreement, and your sense of entitlement -- yes *YOUR* sense of entitlement, telegraph -- that your mere ownership of that dollar grants you the expectation of a certain privilege, exists only as long as that system functions for the benefit of everybody. When those dollars are used as instruments of exploitation, and when those dollars are used unfairly to warp the system and exempt people from their responsibility to create a just and reasonable society, you can expect your entitlements to be stripped away from you. And all your outrage and indignation and your belief in yourself as more worthy of society's gifts than the rest of us will serve you for nothing, because you placed yourself in claim of something that never belonged to you, at least not merely for the possession of these little scraps of paper. Because, ultimately, you cannot buy respect, and no amount of money will entitle you to launch an immoral war, or to strip people of their dignity, to deny education to the poor, to deny health care to children or to the elderly, to tear down a neighborhood because you want to build a golf course, to block citizens for buying prescription drugs from overseas because it hurts profits, to bulldoze a national park if it drops another percent or two to the bottom line.

Entitlement? Don't preach to me about entitlement. Take the rich off welfare and the poor won't need it.

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