Up & Coming Weekly

November 09, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 10-16, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION Growing economic inequality, living large, taxed small by MARGARET DICKSON I have a question for all the folks who oppose taxing billionaires and hundred-millionaires. I am addressing especially those who serve in our U.S. Congress, both the House and Senate. What on earth are you thinking? Ordinary Americans pay our taxes, mostly through payroll deductions, because we believe in doing our part, or — more cynically, we don't want to get in trouble with the IRS. What- ever our reasons, we do pay, however begrudgingly. Not so for the wealthiest Americans, whose assets come not from salaries, much less wages, but from resources they hold. ey have the financial wherewithal to hire the best of the best consultants — tax attorneys, accountants and others to protect those assets from taxation when they are eventually sold or passed down to heirs. ese profes- sional services allow the tiny percent- age of American billionaires to shield their wealth while the rest of us are dutifully transferring healthy chunks to Uncle Sam.We are not talking the well-to-do folks across town or even those considered "rich." We are talking Warren Buffett (investments), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Michael Bloomberg (financial ser- vices) and Elon Musk (Tesla). Musk is now poised to be the first person on earth whose net worth is nearly $300 billion (larger than the gross domestic product of Pakistan), Bezos at $200 billion (zillions of Amazon packages), Buffett at $100 billion and Bloomberg at a relatively modest (compared to those guys), $59 billion. Just try to process the reality that these people pay little or no taxes and do not want to either. Musk even had a little hissy fit last week over the very idea that as a billionaire he might be taxed at all. Tweeted an annoyed Musk, "Eventually they run out of other people's money, and then they come for you." Forgive me, but I am having trouble relating to that. It is hard to know ex- actly how many American billionaires there are, but a quick search says just over six hundred, and that number fluctuates depending on how many of we salaried folks buy Teslas, order from Amazon and so on. Forbes mag- azine reported earlier this year that we have 5 billionaires in North Carolina, but nary a one in Cumberland County. Stunningly, no billionaires live in West Virginia, according to Forbes, but that state's two U.S. Senators, including the contrarian Joe Manchin, both oppose taxing billionaires. Like most every other issue in our grumpy, divided and partisanly poisoned Congress, this one is split mainly but not entirely along party lines. It would seem to me that making those with the most participate in our nation's coffers just like the rest of us is a reasonable and equitable position. If Mary who drives a school bus and Joe who does plumbing have taxes withheld, why should Elon, Jeff and Warren escape just because their wealth comes from different sources? We Americans have been in a bad mood for various reasons for about a decade, and one of the main reasons is our growing economic inequality. e rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer as the famed American working middle class fades away in between. Maybe our billionaires will avoid the proposed billionaire tax this time around, but at some point, there will be a day of reckoning about the grow- ing gulf between the haves and the have-nots. at reckoning should come sooner rather than later, be- cause it is not going to get any easier or prettier over time. MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. (910) 484-6200. Photo courtesy of Pexels

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