Sunday, November 27, 2011

How the 1% Lives

Much of the Occupy Wall Street protests have focused anger at the richest of the rich Americans -- the so-called 1% -- and how they don't pay their fair share in taxes. Basically, the argument goes, they don't pay enough and the government goes without much needed revenue to do the things that will improve our society.

"But that's not fair!" the 1% and their defenders shout. "The 1% pay the most in taxes!"

Not really. See today's huge article about how one of NYC's richest men -- Ronald Lauder of the Estee Lauder fortune -- cleverly hides his money from the government in legal tax shelters. It's really scummy and depressing. The loopholes and "donations" to various "charities" and foundations dramatically reduce the amount of taxes that so many rich people like Lauder have to pay. 

Like most rich people, the Lauders of the world get to eat their cake and have it to. It's the best of both worlds really: the rich can boast that they are "oh-so generous" buy giving huge amounts of money to "charity" and earn brownie points with the public for how "good" they are. In reality, they're just reducing their tax burden, moving money around from a taxable entity to a non-taxable one. It's gotta be great to reduce your taxes and get free positive publicity instead paying your fair share and getting no glory. 

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Call it vanity unfair.

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