My kids and I went to see comedienne Lewis Black last night. He's out on his In God We Rust tour, though that seems to be a bit of a misnomer since the show had little to do with any religious topics and more to do with rants about whatever happened to cross his comedic mind. Don't get me wrong, I loved the show and really enjoy his rants, but the tour title had given me the impression that he might be aiming to skewer religion a bit more duirng the show and instead it wound up being about many different things and not so much about religion at all.
One of the things the show did seem to be about was the idea that Black's generation needs to leave a legacy behind and that he suggests that as the legacy of that generation perhaps a big push could be made to legalize marijuana which could then be taxed and regulated, with the taxes going back into the economy to help get our stagnant economy going again. He may have a valid point (and I'm really not sure I disagree with that point or the further point that my son had which was that if we were going to legalize pot we should go ahead and legalize prostitution too and tax and regulate it as well), but he went a little further talking about the economy and the fussing that is going over extending the Bush tax cuts for any or all of those that were affected by them.
Black generalized that those tax cuts equated to savings of about 3 percent per year for the last 10 years. Perhaps. I don't so much care about the actual numbers, but I do care about the point that he went on to make. He pointed out that we can't get more taxes from the poor because they don't have anything to tax, and the middle class has been squeezed badly enough to barely exist and what is left can't really be squeezed for more taxes because they are pretty much at their breaking point as well. From there, well, you can probably see that he winds up talking about the rich, which he admits to being one of compliments of the fans like me that have gone out to his appearances, bought DVDs of his specials, watched him on TV (which gets him money for the appearances and such) and things like that.
It's at this point that he starts stating that the rich should be paying more in taxes. What's the harm in taking 3 percent more from them in taxes than what they are currently paying. Put those funds towards building roads, or towards educations, or other places that need it he ranted. Certainly he didn't really need the money. He has money, or so he's told when he checks with his accountants, managers, lawyers, agents and such. People that tell him how his small business (Lewis Black, Inc., or whatever the name of it is) is doing well as they move funds around from this shelter to that shelter and grow his investments on his behalf.
Hmm, so he thinks he could handle paying more in taxes and yet, well, he also stood there and told the audience that his own little business is busy growing his investments and sheltering his income through pretty much every legal means possible (his own words were something to the effect of continually questioning his accountants/managers/agents on whether or not he'd wind up going to jail for failing to pay taxes as required). Does he not see the hypocrisy in his own statement?
After all, this is the same guy that would likely rant loud and long about how the government would just incompently waste the money they've been given researching stupid things, supporting big businesses or otherwise splurging on things that don't make much sense, but yet there he was basically saying he wants to pay more in taxes.
The solution seems pretty simple to me -- instruct your own accountants/managers/agents to stop sheltering your funds. Nothing prevents Lewis Black or George Soros or any others that want to have the government take more of the rich man's money from taking their own money and giving it to the government or donating it to charitable foundations and causes that will put it towards great things.
I know I've given away a decent amount of charitable contributions myself over the last 18 months (give or take), and more beyond that time frame. I'm happy to support the causes that I do, happy to contribute to them (for the most part), and try not to pester others to do the same. If I want to do that, that is on me. It is not my place to tell someone else what they must do and I do not pressume that someone else has to do something just because I do. I also do not pressume that I have the right to confiscate wealth from another to redistribute. But perhaps I'm wrong with my way of thinking.... (absolutely, positively, NOT!)