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News from last week...

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1.  Bill Gates announced that he would leave Microsoft to focus on the foundation he and his wife run.  That foundation focuses on health (especially HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) and education.  The foundation has about $29 billion in assets (and I think Bill Gates plans to continue donating to it, so it's likely to rise).  ;D

2.  Warren Buffett (world's 2nd richest man, after Bill Gates) announced that he would be giving away his fortune, mostly to the Bill Gates foundation.  His donation would amount to about $37 billion (on today's dollars), but the gift would be made annually and so it will likely be much higher after you factor in likely increases in the value of the stock of his company.  (BTW- that foundation has lots of job openings and sounds like more people will be needed, in case you live in the Seattle and D.C. areas.).  ;D

3.  Congress passed a bill eliminating estate taxes for those so called poor farmers who have to sell their farms to pay the tax bill.  Those with a net worth of $5-10 million would see a cut or a complete elimination in the tax.  Poor farmers indeed.  >:(

4.  Congress passed a bill increasing income taxes on Americans who live abroad.   >:(

I read the story yesterday about Buffet's plan to leave the bulk of his fortune to the Gate's Foundation.

I'm impressed with the humanitarian commitment of both these men, to say the least.

(Note they both were very outspoken in their opposition of eliminating the estate tax--damn congress--poor farmers indeed!)


serious question from an urban ignoramus: are all farmers well-off or rich? ???


I have always felt either a cure or treatment for HIV/AIDS would come from The Howard Hughes medical Institute. More money used in research there than anywhere else on earth until the Gates. I ’ve had my fingers crossed for years hoping that they’d get serious on researching for a cure.


No.  The average farmer doesn't have enough wealth to qualify for an imposition of estate taxes under current rules.  But people who want the tax cut, use farmers as an example, cause if they really said who typically qualify for taxes on estates (the family of business moguls), most Americans would say hell no.  Funny thing is, most ultra rich Americans (billionaires) are usually in favor of estate taxes.  They realize that their wealth could only have been created because of the stability, infrastructure and economic opportunity afforded in this country (funded by tax revenues).  Also most give away their fortunes anyway.

I read a great article in the Economist last week about the US.  It was about how the US is rightfully the envy of the world in terms of economics (innovation, investments, low unemployment, etc...).  The statistics also prove that the US is the land of opportunity (much easier to generate wealth and move beyond your parent's status than elsewhere).  The land of advancement and equality (in terms of economics/income and representation at the highest levels of corporations and government, minorities do much better in the US than in other countries with significant minority populations).  And the US is also the land where the common man will bend over backwards to protect the wealth of the ultra rich.  Probably because we all believe that we too could be rich one day, (though statistically speaking we won't).  

But what's broken is that the social infrastructure, that should serve to protect those who don't, can't or won't climb the social ladder, isn't strong enough.  And everyone realizes it, (the polls all show Americans aren't happy with the way things are headed), but yet people will still bend over backwards to cut taxes for people who don't want their taxes cut, while at the same time cutting services in areas where we all complain that the government spends too little on, (healthcare, education and job creation).  

You'll have a general motors worker laid off and he'll still be the first person in line demanding a tax cut for those in the highest bracket, (even though that rate doesn't impact him much, if at all).

Funny people, we Americans are.


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