Ted Turner Jokes About Buffett’s Giving Pledge: ‘He Can Always Write A Check to The Government’
Earlier this week, billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner sat down with a Bloomberg reporter to answer some questions regarding America’s current economic situation and to offer his opinion on the initiatives being taken by Washington D.C.
While some of Turner’s observations might be considered astute, critics could construe other statements made by the mogul as misguided.
The interviewer started off by asking Turner what he thought of both Warren Buffett and the president calling for the rich to pay more in taxes:
“Nobody likes to pay more taxes,” Turner said. “At least, except Warren Buffett likes to pay more taxes, he’s the only one,” he clarified.
“Do you think he should?” the interviewer asked him.
“Well, he thinks so. He can always write a check to the government; just send them the money,” he said, smiling slightly.
While he appeared to be on a roll, Turner inevitably switched gears and started to praise his friend Buffett and various economic policies including the inheritance tax and the recent bailout. Regarding the bailout, Turner stated, “[it] probably would’ve been a lot worse without the bailout, but I don’t think it was done as well as it could have been”.
“I’m certainly in favor of keeping the inheritance tax, for instance, and have been all along,” he said.
“If we do away with the inheritance tax we’ll have some families in the United States over a period of years that will get richer than anybody else in the world and that wealth will be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and I don’t think that’s good,” he said.
“I believe in a strong middle class.”
What Turner failed to mention, and is pointed out by the late economist Milton Friedman, is that the wealthy do not simply sit on their assets. A good deal of their wealth can be invested into new ventures that can produce more manufactured goods and that will require more labor (human capital) and so on.
According to several conservative economists, the “wealthy” members of society that the current administration seems to fear are more likely to invest more wisely (and to more profitable conclusions) than any faceless government entity. This is because there is a genuine concern for the success of the venture.
The idea that a constricting segment of society will hoard all the wealth is not entirely accurate or fair. Furthermore, to artificially block the designation of one’s assets in the name of maintaining a “strong middle class” will more likely produce unfavorable results that will hurt the middle class, according to most prominent conservative economists. The reason that Turner and company can claim that the wealthy are hoarding their wealth is because, yes, they have been more cautious than in previous years.
But that is not because they are simply stashing it away. It is because they are being told that success will mean that they have to pay more than everyone else, that they “don’t deserve” to keep their money, that the government should artificially adjust free market balance, etc.
The interviewer then turned Turner’s attention to Warren Buffett’s “giving pledge.”
“I’m on board. I think it’s a good idea,” he said.
“But I think it’s a lot easier for he and Bill Gates to give away half of what they have (because they have so much) then it is for someone with only one billion,” he said.
“I’m a Buffet fan,” he proclaimed.
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