The New York Times is still stirring up news based on an op-ed published in the paper two weeks by billionaire Warren “Tax Me More” Buffett, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” pleading for the government to raise the effective tax rate on wealthy investors like him.
Buffett’s op-ed went viral among liberals online, and has spread to Europe, according to Wednesday’s Business section story from London by Julia Werdigier, “Tax Me More, Europe’s Wealthy Say -- With an Eye on Deficits, the Affluent Talk About Fairness.” The text box emphasized: “A debate after Buffett called for an end to ‘coddling’ the rich.”
Echoing a call by Warren E. Buffett, members of the European wealthy elite are urging their governments to raise their taxes or enact special levies to help reduce growing budget deficits.
Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of the French advertising firm Publicis, on Tuesday became the latest European business leader to ask for higher taxes on top earners, writing in The Financial Times that it was “only fair that the most privileged members of our society should take up a heavier share of this national burden.”
“I am not a masochist; I do not love taxes,” wrote Mr. Lévy, who is also president of a French association of private enterprises. “But right now this is important and just.”
The moves come after a similar proposition by Mr. Buffett, the billionaire investor and founder of Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Buffett wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Aug. 14 that the United States should stop “coddling” the rich and raise the top income tax rate in an effort to reduce the deficit.
Mr. Buffett’s comments started a debate among some of Europe’s elite as to whether austerity measures in some countries were too punishing for the poor while sparing the rich.
Werdigier became the latest London-based Times reporter to link the looting and rioting in England to “austerity measures” and “social unrest.”
Some analysts said the calls for greater sacrifice from Europe’s wealthy might have sprung from growing concern that austerity measures in Europe were leading to social unrest, after protests in Greece and Spain and images of burning police cars and shops in the streets of London.
At the end, Werdigier cited the wisdom of an unlabeled far-left columnist before neutrally admitting a countervailing fact – the British are already paying a lot in taxes.
The silence among Britain’s business elite on the issue has started to irk some commentators. “Where is Britain’s Warren Buffett or Liliane Bettencourt?” asked Polly Toynbee, a columnist for The Guardian newspaper.
Britain and Japan have the highest top tax rates among Group of 8 industrialized countries, according to the accounting firm KPMG.