Super-rich should put a sock in it
Mark O'BrienNow we have yet another group whose feelings have been hurt by the political warfare of 2012.
Published: October 11, 2012
Published: October 11, 2012
Along with various minority and ethnic groups, it seems the super-rich are stung, really stung, by complaints about their limited participation in the income tax system.
We're talking about not just the 1 percent, but the super-rich, the 0.1 percent who have billionaire tacked in front of their names.
This week's New Yorker reports on some tycoons who are pooling their money in an effort to unseat Barack Obama. That's significant because incumbent presidents usually can count on lots of donations from the financial sector, but Mitt Romney has surpassed Obama in fund-raising from this group.
It's also amusing because the group is led by Leon Cooperman, a self-made billionaire hedge-fund guy whose wife lives in New Jersey while his legal residence is in Florida — the weather is good for his arthritis and the lack of a state income tax is good for his bank statement. How much of a tax break would you need to live apart from your spouse?
The really rich have always played a part in politics, and that's certainly their right, whether it's George Soros for liberals or the Koch brothers for conservatives.
Personally, I don't have a beef with the super-rich. While life isn't fair, we middle-class folks have our tax breaks, too. I get a tax deduction on my mortgage, something a renter doesn't get, and my kids took advanced placement courses in high school that were much better than the classes that other students got. Now that I'm in business for myself, I'm pleasantly astounded to see how much Uncle Sam subsidizes me with tax breaks for business-related expenses — meals, equipment, mileage and more.
And, over the years, I've met enough super-rich people to know that some are great folks and some are jerks, about the same proportion you get in middle-class and lower-class settings.
Still, Cooperman and Co. are a bit different. They've been stirred into action by complaints that they're not paying their fair share.
You'd think they would be happy with Obama. Despite his rhetoric, Obama supported the bailout of their beloved Wall Street, and the stock market has been doing well, especially for the big boys.
Yet Cooperman and his friends complain they're being dissed, as if they were teenage boys trying to establish their turf in a high school hallway.
I'm thinking maybe the really rich should just stay quiet for a while. Otherwise, they appear tacky, talking about their plight, such as it is.
Or they could take a tip from my mother, who had a standard phrase for me and my brothers when we whined too much. "Put a sock in it," she'd say, "or I'll give you something to really whine about."
Formerly a columnist for the Pensacola News Journal, Mark O'Brien is a writer in Pensacola, and the author of "Pensacola On My Mind" and "Sand In My Shoes."