Warren Buffett put forward a radical idea in a New York Times opinion piece today – the mega-rich should pay their fair share of taxes. “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” Mr. Buffett goes on to say that he pays the smallest percentage on his taxable income out of anyone in his office.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the mega-rich are pretty good at getting the government not to tax them. What’s amazing is when there are calls to raise their taxes – such as Mr. Buffett’s here – a portion of the 99.7% of the country that is not mega-rich gets up in arms. One of the more common reasons given is that if rich people are taxed they won’t invest and thus won’t create jobs. Mr. Buffett counters this claim in his opinion piece with an observation that seems, to me, pretty well grounded in human behavior. “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

My understanding of this world fails a little bit here, because I have trouble understanding why the super-rich even bother making more money. While sitting on billions of dollars it’s probably hard to not make more money with it. Still, it doesn’t negate the point that the rich can afford to pay much higher taxes than they do now – without affecting their lives noticeably. In fact, they used to pay more. During the period between 1980 and 2000. taxes were higher for the highest brackets, and more jobs were created.

What has been the response to Mr. Buffet’s very reasonable proposal? Well, Forbes, taking a brave stand for the uber-wealthy, criticized how the tax percentages were calculated. CNN and other sites are evaluating his plan as another option on the deficit reduction table. (I’m not sure Buffet was focused on the national debt, per se, but he’s had some pretty interesting ideas about solving it before) President Obama, for his part, agrees with Mr. Buffet’s plan. Obama’s plan for taxation extends far below the level of wealth that Mr. Buffet wants to target, but it’s the same concept in essence. And they’re both good ideas.

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