I already knew Warren Buffet was a fool, but I didn’t know until now that he’s also a hypocrite. It turns out that the man who begs the U.S. government to raise taxes on wealthy folks has an ongoing tax liability at the company he runs. Berkshire Hathaway’s own auditors believe the company owes the IRS more than a billion dollars in unpaid taxes.
The grisly facts of Buffet’s situation are laid out in an article by a website run by Americans for Limited Government. It’s not a pretty picture if you’ve been a fan of the Wizard of Omaha. (Download the PDF of the Berkshire Hathaway annual report to see the specifics on Page 54.)
In Buffet’s opinion piece for the New York Times, he said:
“Most [wealthy people] wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.”
It sounds to me as though Buffet is less worried about the suffering of his “fellow citizens” than he is in influencing politics. As I’ve pointed out before, Buffet is very welcome to contribute his own money to pay for big government if he’d like. He’s even more welcome to pay up the billion dollars that his company’s own auditors believe the company is likely going to owe. Since he’s not doing either of these, it suggests something else.
To me, it suggests that Buffet is ultimately just an ideologue who wants to use his position and wealth to make other people conform to what he wants them to do. How exactly is that different from what wealthy people do who campaign for lower taxes and freer markets?
Buffet has every right to express his opinion. He has every right to campaign for higher taxes. But we have every right to point out his hypocrisy. We have every right to point out the dishonesty of saying you desperately want to help by “contributing” more money when you’re perfectly capable of doing it voluntarily. And we have every right to point out the hypocrisy of claiming to want to pay more taxes while fighting tooth and nail to avoid paying a billion dollars.
Warren Buffet has been a successful businessman, but he’s still a fool and a hypocrite.