LIBERAL CRANKS….The modern conservative movement has been funded in large part by people like Richard Mellon Scaife and Joseph Coors, rich conservative cranks who have been spreading their money around since Goldwater’s defeat in 1964. A couple of months ago I asked Eric Alterman, “Why aren?t there any rich liberal cranks like Scaife willing to fund liberal think tanks?” Here’s what he said:
The genius of what Scaife and Coors and those people did is, they just threw manure onto a field and decided to see what grew. What Scaife did is, he just gave everybody money, he said, fine, let?s see what grows, whereas liberals are much more focused on programmatic money….They want control, they want reports; they don?t fund basic research, they don?t fund operating expenses.
The taxes I pay to the federal government, including the payroll tax that is paid for me by my employer, Berkshire Hathaway, are roughly the same proportion of my income — about 30 percent — as that paid by the receptionist in our office.
….Now the Senate says that dividends should be tax-free to recipients. Suppose this measure goes through and the directors of Berkshire Hathaway (which does not now pay a dividend) therefore decide to pay $1 billion in dividends next year. Owning 31 percent of Berkshire, I would receive $310 million in additional income, owe not another dime in federal tax, and see my tax rate plunge to 3 percent.
And our receptionist? She’d still be paying about 30 percent, which means she would be contributing about 10 times the proportion of her income that I would to such government pursuits as fighting terrorism, waging wars and supporting the elderly. Let me repeat the point: Her overall federal tax rate would be 10 times what my rate would be.
Hey, he sounds pissed! And his riches make Scaife look like a small time piker. So what do you say, Warren, how about taking up a late career as a rich liberal crank? We could use you.