March 06, 2004

A Little On Corporate Taxes

Buffett letter released - Mar. 6, 2004

It's interesting to see what Warren Buffett says -- not because I always agree with him, but he's usually at least honest about his opinions, and as one of the richer people on the planet, his opinions about money tend to have a little more weight than most economists.

This year, though, his letter is a little different; it contains an interesting view on taxes: despite what the article says, Buffett seems to be taking to task other corporations more than Bush personally. His complaint: most companies pay only a fraction, if any at all, of their taxes.

I'll take this one further: I pay taxes, knowing that while my money is not getting somewhere the most efficent and practical way, it's getting some things done. It's not the greatest, it's certianly not efficent, it's most assuredly not what I would spend my money on if I could choose -- but I pay it believing that I'm bettering the US with my money, and I pay it knowing that this money will keep the government off my back for the most part.

Corporations, though, exist to make money. (Technically, corporations don't exist: they're social constructs for the purpose of getting more work done than a single person alone, and the guiding purpose is to make money. But that's a side point). And the less they pay in taxes, the more successful they are. Given the choice of paying taxes or not, I believe 99% would not.

Warren Buffet's quote, "If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning," jibes with John Edwards' concept of two Americas, and jibes with the Seattle Protests against corporatism.

I'm sure people could argue against this, primarily saying that corporations employ people, and so their survival is necessary to our survival (at least, my pro-corporation friends currently say this -- I'm open to other arguments.) I don't doubt that if corporations suddenly disappeared, most of America would wither and die pretty quickly.

But the need is not always mutual, and is becoming less so as automation reduces the need for people in corporations. What happens if a corporation just... decides it doesn't need people? Or that it only needs cheap people? We've already seen the beginnings of this during the 80s and 90s, as well as this decade: outsourcing, offshoring, rightsizing. They all mean you and I are expendable.

Posted by Ted Stevko at March 6, 2004 02:19 PM | TrackBack