What Do You Get When You Ask Stephen King for Tax Advice?

Stephen King, of course. Crude, violent, disturbing, and fairly well-written. (You were expecting Jane Austen?)

Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?” The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee’s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did.

Cut a check and shut up, they said.

If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.

Tired of hearing about it, they said.

Tough [bleep] for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their [bleeps] with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar.

Beyond what we already know about Stephen King (which has been confirmed here), we also know he’s never met a rich woman (one of the expurgated words being a rather common slang word for the male reproductive organ).

But of course King can talk about it: this is America. And he puts his money where his mouth is:

My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (jaws of life are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Umm, says who? And even if we agree that it doesn’t, who is Mr. King to confiscate (or call for the confiscation of) another person’s wealth (for all you rich dames out there)?

What charitable 1-percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts.

If you’re so concerned about America’s “staggering” war debts and its sick and poor, Steve, what are you doing pi**ing your money away on arts organizations? The Orono Gilbert & Sullivan Society may appreciate your largesse, but how many jaws of life have they purchased with it?

But seriously, Steve, you would rather the government take your $4 million than spend it how you see fit? What if some of it went to the GSA’s party lifestyle or Michelle Obama’s lavish vacations? You think that’s better than local libraries and schools?

And the rich do pay their fair share—so much more. I don’t feeling like pulling up the relevant Treasury chart that shows that the richer you are, the more of the federal income tax you pay as a percentage of the population. In recent years, the top 1% pay between 35-40% of federal income tax, while the bottom 50% pay between 2 and 3.5% The disparity between the top one-tenth of one percent is even greater:

Since 2001, the IRS has also been presenting data on a small subset of the top 1 percent, the top 0.1 percent (the top 10 percent of the top 1 percent). In 2009, this top 0.1 percent filed 137,982 tax returns, reporting 7.8 percent of all adjusted gross income earned and paying approximately 17.1 percent of the nation’s federal individual income taxes.

That’s right: a group about the size of a standing-room only capacity crowd for the University of Michigan Wolverine football team pays over one-sixth of the federal income tax, even though they earn less than half that amount proportionately.

And Stphen King wants them turned upside down and shaken by the heels so he can feel good about pot holes. We should be encouraging more philanthropy, not less. More capitalism, not more communism. If that’s not too scary for you, Steve.

1 Comment »

  1. Buck O'Fama said,

    April 30, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    Yawn. Another over-ripe lefty fascist feeling guilty about being wealthy and seeking to assuage that by forcing the rest of the world to live by his deluded rules. Go to hell.

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