BARACK Obama believes that to whom much has been given, much should be taken away. Succeeding with his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy would please the president. But it also would hurt people who are at the other end of the economic spectrum.
What Obama never talks about when he's on the stump insisting the wealthy pay their “fair share” in taxes is that the rich lift up others around the country, indeed around the globe, through their philanthropy. Digging deeper into the deepest pockets would only mean less to give away.
Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who endeared himself to Obama when he said he believes the wealthy should hand over more tax revenue to Uncle Sam, announced this month that he was giving $600 million in his company's stock to each of his three children to use for their charitable foundations.
One of the foundations helps farmers in impoverished nations. Another works to strengthen early childhood education and reduce teen pregnancy. The third seeks to curb violence against females by empowering women and girls worldwide through education and economic development.
Buffett, 82, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has amassed a fortune now estimated at nearly $45 billion. He's made it known that on his passing, most of that will go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates, of course, founded Microsoft. Since 1994, the foundation has awarded more than $25 billion in grants, for everything from childhood immunizations and the fight against malaria in developing countries, to helping U.S. colleges serve students who need remedial coursework. As its website says, the foundation “seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”
In 2010, Buffet and the Gates started the Giving Pledge, which has a goal of getting wealthy Americans to agree to give a majority of their fortunes to philanthropy. Several Oklahomans have taken the pledge. Among them are Lynn Schusterman of Tulsa; Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann; Barbara Green of Oklahoma City, wife of Hobby Lobby founder David Green; and Tulsa oilman George Kaiser.
Kaiser played a major role in starting Educare, which serves at-risk children in Tulsa. The Green family's generosity helped keep the doors open at Oral Roberts University a few years ago. The Hamms are the main reason there's now a diabetes center at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
These are only a few examples of the scores of Oklahomans who, through hard work, have succeeded in business and then made a point of giving back. They're the sorts of people — driven, successful, grateful, generous — who should be celebrated.
Instead, Obama demonizes the wealthy and holds them up as villains who ought to be paying their “fair share” of taxes. Rather than scorn, they deserve their fair share of credit.