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Warren Buffett's tax ideas; Israel and the U.S.; cellphones in prisons

August 19, 2011
  • Warren Buffett this week called on Washington to stop "coddling" the wealthy and increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires such as himself. (Mustafa Quraishi / Associated Press)
Warren Buffett this week called on Washington to stop "coddling"…

Coddling the rich

Re "Buffett's tax argument riles Republicans," Aug. 17

Warren Buffett may the one person in America who cannot be accused of political posturing when he calls out Congress for coddling our nation's wealthiest citizens.

It is common sense that revenue could be increased significantly by closing the tax loopholes for the mega-rich. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman backs up his argument with facts that are difficult to dispute.

Laughably, the harshest rebuttal from Republicans comes from a wealthy investor who suggests Buffett may have a sinister agenda to thwart his fellow billionaires.

Mr. Buffett, why don't you run for president?

LeAnn Angelich

Brentwood

Buffett's suggestion that wealthier citizens should be expected to pay more in taxes elicited predictable, and somewhat juvenile, responses from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Their rejoinder is that if he feels strongly about paying extra taxes, he should volunteer a contribution to the IRS. Obviously, as wealthy as he is, that would have minimal effect on the government's balance sheet.

But to turn the tables, I would suggest that since both Cornyn and Cantor are adamant about spending cuts, they should be willing to voluntarily cut their pay by 25%. While they are at it, there is no requirement that they accept government healthcare or pensions either.

Rick Cornez

Redlands

If Buffett were serious about increasing taxes for the rich, he would put his money to work against antitax activist Grover Norquist. Buffett's wealth could assure financial and political aid for those willing to sign contracts agreeing to vote for taxes as needed, perhaps stipulating that the federal debt be reduced.

Norquist wields considerable power as an unelected political manipulator. Buffett has the financial capacity to neutralize Norquist and his no-taxes ideology.

Ed Pollack

Apple Valley

Buffett's burden is that he has too much money. No matter how much he is taxed or how much he gives away, he still has more than enough. Therein lies the problem: Because it doesn't hurt Buffett to give up his wealth, it must be just fine for others to do the same.

He has owned property here in Laguna Beach, and a couple of years back I recall him saying that Laguna Beach property taxes were not high enough and that he should be paying more. Really!

Edward A. Shaw

Laguna Beach

Profiting from one's labor

Re "The speedup," Opinion, Aug. 14

That 22% increase in corporate profits since 2007 didn't go to some hypothetical "them," as Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery suggest. Those profits benefited shareholders, millions of whom were ordinary workers smart enough to have invested some of their hard-earned money.

So rather than suggest that U.S. corporations follow the German model and grant their workers six weeks of vacation (don't hold your breath on that one), the authors should advocate something far more practical and rewarding: encourage more workers to become shareholders and reap the benefits of productivity and efficiency gains. Despite its recent dip, the S&P 500 is up more than 50% since November 2008. If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em.

Ted Cosse

La CaƱada Flintridge

What an ideal solution to our nation's high unemployment rate: Increase the number of vacation days of those individuals currently employed, which would create a need for new employees to be hired to cover the added vacation days.

This would result in more jobs, happier and more productive employees and an economic boost.

Janet King

La Verne

In addition to the annual vacation restoring the creative juices, it is a necessary part of an organization's internal control: that is, checks and balances. If any wrongdoing is happening, it may be ferreted out by having another person doing the job of the vacationer.

When I was in practice as a certified public accountant, I always recommended that my clients take vacations.

George Brenner

Los Angeles

Israel needs its friends

Re "Israeli ministry OKs homes on annexed land," Aug. 12

By opposing this housing, once again President Obama reaffirms his intractable support for the people of Israel (yeah right). This president is proving to be some ally to the Jewish homeland (yeah right again).

The sooner he's out of office, the safer the world will be for Israel.

Israel and America are good at fighting terrorism. They've both been there in a big way. They bounce ideas off each other; most of the times they work, as both countries are creative cultures.

Either way, being dependable friends and allies and working together is always a win-win situation.

Howard Karlitz

Marina del Rey

For a man who claims to be committed to peace with Palestinians but rejects preconditions and unilateral actions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions are utterly bereft of decency when he contorts the theft of confiscated land as non-unilateral and abiding by international law as acquiescence to precondition.

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