Felix Salmon is not impressed with plutocrats who parade themselves as paragons of wisdom and self-sacrifice when they call for higher taxes. He's talking about Bob Rubin and Julian Robertson, but eventually he gets to Buffett:
The subtext to all op-eds like this -- the ur-example, of course, being one of those many editorials from Warren Buffett saying that he should pay more taxes -- is that the authors are so noble and selfless that they will even pay more taxes themselves if doing so is in the national interest, and if everybody else in their position has to do so too. But of course these guys are always going to have to pay whatever the estate tax happens to be, and will probably go to pretty great lengths to avoid as much of it as possible.
Let's imagine that I'm a liberal calling for higher taxes. (Do your best to pretend.) Is it hypocritical, then, to hire somebody from H&R Block or another group to massage the law such that I pay the fewest taxes possible? Keep in mind that I'm not breaking the law. I'm merely paying an expert to bend the law to the point of breaking to keep my tax rate low. This is a privilege I have, as an affluent person who can afford expensive tax prep. But here I am, bending the law to the point of breaking to keep my tax bill low, while I've just called for the American public to pony up more for the government. Is that intellectually consistent?
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