Apparently, the Occupy movement isn’t just reaching college students and middle-income individuals who have seen their piece of the American dream dwindle. Because if millionaires are calling for equality, the 99 percent might have to welcome a few of the country’s wealthiest individuals into their ranks.
Whether they’ll be pitching tents in public parks remains to be seen.
Chuck Collins is heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune, but he is willing to subject that inheritance to the same taxes average Rhode Islanders pay. Warren Buffett pledged the same support for the Paying a Fair Share Act, legislation nicknamed the Buffett Rule that would ensure multi-millionaires pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. Martin Rothenberg famously supported former President Bill Clinton for the same reason. Rothenberg, the founder of Syracuse Language Systems (which he ultimately sold for $40 million), grew up in a poor family. The taxpayers subsidized his public education; he learned about engineering from a public library and went to college thanks to the government-funded GI bill. As a businessman, he started his company with grants and loans, hired publicly educated workers and later relied on the justice system to protect his intellectual copy when a Japanese company threatened to steal it. In his opinion, his success was paid for by others.
When you consider how much support we draw from the system, from education to public safety, Rothenberg makes a lot of sense.
Critics question if taxing the nation’s top earners would essentially punish success, or worse, discourage job creation as these companies see their profits limited.
Buffett and other likeminded millionaires disagree.
“I have no problem endorsing any large step in the direction of greater fairness in the tax code,” said Buffett, who went on to thank bill sponsor Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, “for what you are doing for our country.”
Reforming the tax code isn’t about penalizing industrious people. It’s not about increasing social services or stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, either. But if we are going to decrease our national debt and invest in the programs that bring about real change, not short-term fixes, then big business needs to follow the same rules as the mom and pop shops that serve as the backbone to our local economy.
The American Dream was meant to be accessible to everyone, and for that to be possible, all parties need to pay their fair share.