US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Buffett reveals true colors: red!

Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

There are times I simply have to hand it to my mon professional freres across the pond and their pizzazz with the headline writing. Now I have been known to come up with some decent "heds" myself on occassion (and about 2 gazillion groaners), but I really can't compete with something like: "America starves as executive pay rockets." Short, sweet and pretty much says it all in the U.K.'s Daily Mail. The deck adds a helpful: "50 MILLION people go hungry while Wall Street fat cats take home millions." 

The U.K. metro desk was having a little fun with new figures documenting a three percent pay raise last year among the nation's highest paid executives and more than an 11 percent increase in bonuses at this rarefied top of the market; this during a period of lay-offs, declining real incomes and belt-tightening among the rest of us. The Mail reports that America's highest paid bosses received an average of $1.6 million as a bonus on top of their basic salaries of $7.2 million.

The highest earning chief executive was Gregory Maffei, head of Liberty Media Group, who took home $87.1 million last year, four times what he earned in 2008. Second was Lawrence Ellison, boss of computing giant Oracle who was paid $68.6 million including $61.9 million in stock options.

At the same time, during this worst recession in 80 years, more than 17.4 million U.S. households—that's about 50 million people and it includes 17 million children—could now be described by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "food insecure," meaning they were skipping meals even when they wanted to eat. Something of a pretty depressing sign of our times, suggesting not only the terminal status of the U.S. middle class but also a troubling lack of empathy at the other end, which has only grown bolder in using its wealth to bend political culture away from communal responsibility and the church's preferential option for the poor.

Before I get deplored as a class warrior (not that I care really; the class war has been ongoing for decades, I've just been on the side that wasn't aware it was in a fight), let's listen in on Warren Buffet, notorious marxist and would-be tax maximalist. In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, he said Americans at the high-end of the tax bracket have never had it so good and that the tax cuts as economic public policy have not benefited the country.

"The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last ten years, and I hope the American public is catching on."

Resisting calls for a permanent extention of the Bush tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest, Buffet said, "If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further....But I think that people at the high end—people like myself—should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.”

Let's hope Warren gets what he wants for Christmas, allowing the rest of us to begin steering the good ship USA away from its current and dangerous course of increasing weatlh and power disparity.

Thanksgiving blessings to all.