Weekend Reading – Buffett sounding off Edition

At the start of this week, if you didn’t hear about it already, the investing world’s favourite Oracle sounded off against his own government.

Warren Buffett wrote an article entitled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich”, which pointed fingers directly at U.S. Congress, encouraging them to tax America’s super-rich more.

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.”

“These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.”

Apparently Buffett has never heard of the phrase “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.  However, maybe he has a valid point?

Why should Buffett pay only 17% of his taxable income, almost half the taxes (as a percentage) paid by any of the other 20 people in his Omaha office?  You can argue that his “save the middle class” tactic is just rhetoric, and to my knowledge, Buffett has yet cut a check to U.S. Congress to help them with America’s excessive debt burden, but in the end I have to say if he wanted people to wake up – he did it.  Well done Warren.  At least some people are getting passionate about this U.S. debt mess.  Now we just need to turn that passion into action.  To put it bluntly, there needs to be a whole lotta action and a lot less discussion.  I think any decision (raise taxes for the super-rich, start a VAT tax, claw-back U.S. defence spending, the list goes on…) is better than no decision at all.  Political posturing is in full swing and that’s not doing anyone any good, including us investors here in Canada.  Nobody wants to pay more for goods and services, in Canada, in the U.S. or anywhere for that matter but if there is no action South of the Border soon, I have a feeling this debt burden is only going to get a whole lot worse for everyone involved.

Alas, on that cheery note (ahem), I managed to read and find some excellent articles from around the blogosphere this week, many of them didn’t talk about the doom and gloom of our economy nor point fingers at others.  At least most of them didn’t right Big Cajun Man?

I encourage you to take some time to check out these articles during some morning coffee this weekend with some Baileys rum cream in your cup.   Just a suggestion really.  I’ve “heard” it tastes OK.  OK, maybe I like it, a lot 😉

Big Cajun Man discussed ethical investing.  I liked this article; I’ll continue to invest in Canadian bank stocks since I’m getting gauged like everyone else but I won’t invest in tobacco companies – I draw the line there.   He also got a little annoyed with Bell this past week.

Kevin from Invest It Wisely had an excellent post about Ethiopia and his visit to this land.

Dividend Partisan discussed his most recent purchase.

Michael James gave us a good strategy for paying for cars.  He was also mesmerized by the market.

Beating The Index discussed his recent stock trade and gave a nice post as part of the “7 Links Project”.

Young & Thrifty discussed generation Y in the workplace.  Some folks like to call this generation “why” 🙂

Retire Happy Blog told us about the realities of stock markets.

Krystal from GMBMFB was annoyed by yet another fraudulent AMEX charge.  I would go bonkers.

Boomer & Echo wondered if you should pay off your debt or borrow some funds to invest, when interest rates are this low.  My wife and I are doing the former – debt paydown remains a priority for us.

The Financial Blogger said it was OK to be cash flow negative, for a short-period of time anyhow…

The Wealthy Canadian discussed his rationale for buying life insurance.   He also added a position in Google.  Why?   Read more about that here! 

My University Money offered their first annual money scholarhip contest!  What a cool idea.

The Dividend Guy provided his list of favourite Canadian stock screeners.  I too, at some point, will do a post about this.

Dan from Canadian Couch Potato informed us why more choice might be a bad thing for investors.

The Dividend Pig told us Walmart beats Q2 market estimates but their U.S. stores remain a drag.

Dividend Mantra outlined his expenses for July.

101 Centavos provided his contribution to the “7 Links Project”.  Well done!

Mike from Money Smarts Blog gave an excellent post about how to sell an ETF or stock using your canadian discount brokerage account.  A great “101” post for first-timers of DIY investing and buying.

Preet Banerjee from WDAMMG  (…also from Lang & O’Leary fame, his own blog, noted Globe & Mail contributor to name just a few roles…) is pleased to announce he’s got a new gig, guest writing with The Investor Education Fund’s public site for investor education.   Well done Preet!  It was also a pleasure to finally meet you.  Stay in touch!

The Dividend Ninja was buying more dividend-paying stocks again.  This time, Staples.  Check out his detailed reasoning about this transaction and where he thinks this stock will go.

The Dividend Monk offered some excellent analysis on how the rich (like Buffett) can be taxed so low, specifically, how taxation on dividends matters and works in the favour of the wealthy.

Andrew Hallam, our Millionaire Teacher, told us his investment club received some free Berkshire Hathaway shares!

Sustainable Personal Finance provided us with a nice simple tip to be eco-friendly.

The Passive Income Earner gave us his dividend income update for August 2011.  Again, impressive!

Susan Brunner reviewed a stock that I want to buy, eventually, when I have money, and I don’t have a line of credit outstanding…

Phew.  That’s the list for this week folks!

Stay tuned to my blog next week, where I plan to post Part 2 of my favourite takeaways from “The Investment Zoo” and hope to reveal my saving and investing rules of thumb.

Until then, take care, be safe and enjoy your weekend!

13 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Buffett sounding off Edition"

  1. If Warren thinks he doesn’t pay enough tax, he can voluntarily contribute to paying down the US deficit if he wants to. 😉

    He’s right in a sense, but the problem is much bigger than an issue of who pays how much relative tax. The richest still pay the lion’s share of absolute tax unless perhaps you’re in the top 0.1% that can get around that by various tricks of some sort or another. If you exclude those on Wall Street and other places that don’t add all that much to the economy and just benefit from various government policies, then the actual productive class does pay a large amount of taxes.

    The tax system should be *fair* which means that everyone should pay a fair share. IIRC something like 50% don’t pay any tax at all and simply benefit from the taxes that others pay. That’s not a good recipe for social cohesion and harmony.

    Then there’s the issues of the huge deadweight cost of the bureaucracy, regulation, and government-granted monopoly rights that builds wide moats around large companies and makes it much more difficult for smaller companies to compete in a sea filled with government-empowered sharks.

    Get rid of all of the largesse, implement a fairer tax system than the one that exists today, and you won’t have a revenue problem because you won’t have a spending problem.

  2. I don’t mean to be rude but a lot of these rich folk will not even be affected by a increase in the captial gains tax or income tax. The top 1% of that population already recieves 23.5% of all income. I believe that inflation is to blame for a lot of this wealth concentration.


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