With the US Congress hurtling toward a deadline on expiring tax cuts, a growing number of wealthy people are calling for higher taxes on the rich to help restore America's fiscal health.
One effort gathered over 45 millionaires who signed an open petition calling for the end of the tax cuts adopted since 2001 on those with annual incomes exceeding one million dollars.
Tax breaks for the wealthy should expire "for the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens," the letter said. It was signed by Ben & Jerry's ice cream founder Ben Cohen, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt and others.
Guy Saperstein, a retired California trial lawyer who organized the effort, said he was "frustrated" that President Barack Obama appeared to be wavering on his pledge to end tax cuts for the wealthy.
"I think the country's in trouble," Saperstein told AFP. "In hard times, the top strata who have done fabulously well need to sacrifice a bit, and it's not much of a sacrifice... We have among the lowest tax rates of any industrialized democracy."
Saperstein said an estimated 1,500 people have signed the letter although some of them did not want to be publicly identified on the group's website.
Philippe Villers, a French-born US businessman who founded Computervision in the 1960s and now heads Grain Pro, says he signed the letter even though it would mean higher taxes for himself.
While we applaud the noble intention of these fine people, we can't help but think it's all just a bunch of hypocritical posturing.
Why wait for a change in the tax code? There is nothing stopping these people from voluntarily giving to the Treasury Department to the tune of their hearts' content.
What's that? They think that everybody making above $250,000 should be paying more in taxes, not just them? Well, that's mighty big of them - requesting the government to take more of their fellow citizens' hard-earned cash.
Since they are so big on nobleness, we believe that they are now morally obligated to lead the way and start giving more to the U.S. government, starting tomorrow, to be a beacon of voluntary giving for the rest of the ingrate fat cats out there.
And speaking of sacrifice, short of a voluntary giving program, why not just sacrifice the job of those tax lawyers and accountants they pay precisely to keep them from paying a minimum on taxes. That would be a great start.
What say ye, Warren?