Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

Rich shouldn’t have to pay taxes, Santorum backer says

By Chrystia Freeland
February 17, 2012

In an age of rising income inequality, one of the big questions is what impact the growing gap will have on democracy. Francis Fukuyama worries about it in this month’s Foreign Affairs, in an essay that bears the worrying subtitle, “Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?” President Barack Obama, as he signaled again with his budget this week, is putting the issue at the center of his re-election campaign.

The powerful connection between money and politics is also on vivid display in the roller-coaster Republican race, where Rick Santorum owes his surge in part to the generosity of the Wyoming multimillionaire Foster Friess, whose “super PAC” helped keep Santorum’s candidacy alive by running TV ads on his behalf.

I interviewed Friess a few days ago, before he made his headline-grabbing remark about women using aspirin as contraceptives in his earlier days (“The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”) He’s a folksy, white-haired, septuagenarian charmer whose Web site features a photo of him astride a horse and “Foster’s Campfire Blog.” He also has unequivocal views about the proper relationships among the wealthy, the state and politics.

Friess’s most striking observation was about the value of what he called “self-taxation,” as opposed to taxes levied by the state.

“People don’t realize how wealthy people self-tax,” Friess told me when I asked whether, given the country’s economic troubles, it was fair to ask the rich to pay a bigger share. “You know, there’s a fellow who was the CEO of Target. In Phoenix, he’s created a museum of music. He put in around $200 million of his own money. I have another friend who gave $400 million to a health facility in Nebraska or South Dakota, or someplace like that. You look at Bill Gates, just gave $750 million, I think, to fight AIDS.”

Friess’s point is that the common good is better served when the wealthy “self-tax” by supporting charities of their own selection, rather than paying taxes to finance government spending.

“I think we should get rid of taxes as much as we can,” Friess told me. “Because you get to decide how you spend your money, rather than the government. I mean, if you have a certain cause, an art museum or a symphony, and you want to support it, it would be nice if you had the choice to support it. Where we’re headed, you’ll be taxed, your money taken away, and the government will support it.

“It’s a question: Do you believe that the government should be taking your money and spending it for you, or do you want to spend it for you?” Friess explained.

As for the idea that an economic age like our own, which is conducive to creating vast fortunes, should also be one in which taxes are high, Friess considers that absurd. “If you look at what Steve Jobs has done for us, what Bill Gates has done for society, the government ought to pay them. Why do they collect money from Gates and Jobs for what they’ve contributed? It’s ridiculous.”

Indeed, Friess is unconvinced by the entire 99 percent paradigm. In his view, it is the Americans at the bottom of income distribution who are getting the free ride.

“I’m just so amazed at this concept that President Obama says, ‘I’m not going to let half the American people, that pay no taxes, bear the unfair burden of the other half, who are not paying their fair share.’ It’s pretty comical, when you think about it,” he said. “About 46 percent of the American public pay no income taxes.”

By contrast, Friess believes we all rely on the 1 percent and should respect them accordingly.

“It’s that top 1 percent that probably contributes more to making the world a better place than the 99 percent. I’ve never seen any poor people do what Bill Gates has done. I’ve never seen poor people hire many people,” he said. “So I think we ought to honor and uplift the 1 percent, the ones who have created value.”

Given these views, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Friess’s main concern about the role of money in U.S. politics is that it is too hard for the wealthy to directly support their preferred candidates.

“I do dislike the system now, because when I give money to the Red, White and Blue Fund” — the super PAC that has been backing Santorum’s candidacy — “I have to be very, very careful not coordinating with the campaign. I have to be careful what I say. I think the best system would be if we all had unlimited free speech and spending our money the way we want, but give directly to the candidates,” he said. “There’s just too much jumping through too many hoops. And I’m not happy with that process.”

Having said that, Friess added, “the role of money is overplayed.” Meg Whitman’s millions, he pointed out, had been insufficient to win the governor’s seat in California. Santorum, he said, owed his ascent more to his tour of 381 towns in Iowa in a Dodge Ram truck than to Friess’s money.

Moreover, Friess argued that the 1 percent was not exclusively bankrolling the right. “If money was able to make things happen, I think there’d be more Republicans, if they’re theoretically the people with money. But I think the Democrats have more billionaires than we do.”

Even so, Friess couldn’t resist bragging a little about how effective his own investment in the Republican race had been so far. “Sheldon put up, I’m told, close to $10 million to back Gingrich, who’s kind of struggling right now, and I put up much, much less than that to help Rick Santorum,” he said, referring to casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson. “So I like to tease that I’m the investor and Sheldon is the casino guy.”

Comments
76 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Giving your money to a symphony or an art gallery is a great idea, and after all, it’s your money. It doesn’t do much for people who can’t afford to eat or have no homes, but hey, that’s the American way. The difference between Mr Gates and Mr Friess is Bill is trying eradicate diseases and improve education for everyone, not elect someone who will enable the wealthy to become more wealthy.

Posted by steve778936 | Report as abusive
 

> “It’s a question: Do you believe that the government should be taking your money and spending it for you, or do you want to spend it for you?” Friess explained.

Notice how in this sentence, Friess appears only to have a concept of people’s money being spent on themselves (with an unspoken assumption that 100% of a person’s “own” money is fully earned by their own hard labor, and that none of it is basically theirs only by virtue of the larger system in which they have operated, and which they have benefited from).

> “I’ve never seen any poor people do what Bill Gates has done. I’ve never seen poor people hire many people,”

I wonder why not! No wonder the rich are the “job creators”. So let’s make the rich richer, because as we all know, this correlation proves that rich people are the only ones who KNOW how to “create jobs”, or, who have any ideas about what sort of things businesses should be doing. If only we all sponsored more symphonies, there would be fewer starving or sick & uninsured people in America!

~~~

If Friess regards himself as an “investor” with his donations to “RWB”, then I want to know what kind of return he expects on his investment.

Posted by matthewslyman | Report as abusive
 

“Liberal democracy” has already disappeared in the USA.

Now, we have rule with impunity based on political and / or financial power, more like France under the late monarchy in the 1700′s. Louis XVI also “self-taxed” to build the Palace of Versailles while his people died of hunger. This is the legacy of letting the rich rule.

The middle class will disappear completely as a social and political force unless it saves itself by seizing control of Government. But in the USA it is already too late for that. Whatever is coming, the role of the middle class is the role of a cadaver.

This election is about who wields the meat cleaver on what is left, and for whose benefit.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive
 

An undergraduate with half a semester of Political Science 101 and half a semester of Econ 101 could take Mr. Friess to task for his arguments.

On his own, Mr. Friess might consider reading one chapter on negative externalities, and perhaps even a chapter of the New Testament, to adjust his views on the poor and his place in a market economy.

Posted by jkruisb2 | Report as abusive
 

If we follow Friess advise about the rich just self-taxing themselves, the US will soon follow the route of Greece and Argentina where their rich have for decades paid no taxes and funneled their wealth into off-shore tax havens.

It’s ironic that Friess is all for taking off the shackles of taxes to free the rich to spend as they wish. Yet on social issues Friess is supporting a candidate who is telling Americans how to conduct their private lives: no-premarital sex, no birth control, no abortion, follow Christian dogma, ban gays, etc. The gist of this argument goes back to feudal Europe when the nobility, exempt from taxes and laws, could execute the poor for heresy, blasphemy, you name it.

More and more Americans are realizing that this Republican hype of “family values” is merely a smoke screen to hide their real agenda: more money to the rich.

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive
 

“I’ve never seen any poor people do what Bill Gates has done. I’ve never seen poor people hire many people,”

Seriously?! Is he THAT stupid?

Posted by redwoolenshirts | Report as abusive
 

“It’s a question: Do you believe that the government should be taking your money and spending it for you, or do you want to spend it for you?” Friess explained.

It is a question: Do you believe the government should be taking your sons and daughters and spending their lives in war efforts that are not paid for, to defend people like Mr. Friess’ and his massive wealth?

These guys are willing to pay tens of millions to win electios, and tens of millions to lobby (bribe) members of Congress, but they don’t want to pay taxes?

This guy is a poster boy for America’s fiscal and political problems.

Friess and his ilk are protected by the greatest (albeit bloated) military on the planet, and when 10% of the population owns 80% of financial assets in America, but they don’t wan’t to pay a dime for the efforts to keep our enterprises free, there is a problem.

The ‘Government’ is largely made up of the military and its affiliated departments, but Friess and his ilk want a free ride on the backs of the poor and middle class taxpayers and the sons and daughters they send to fight and die to protect the rich self-serving unpatriotic Plutarchs like this guy?

When will middle America wake up and stop supporting the Republicon push to protect only the wealthiest Americans. Don’t they realize Republican politicians (and many Democrats) are bought and paid for lobbyist for the wealthy?

Posted by NobleKin | Report as abusive
 

Voluntary “self-taxation” is a noble idea. But, it seems the argument only relates to the very wealthy. Who should maintain dams and levees; or, is the Johnstown flood such a distant event as to be forgotten? Can the U.S. hope to fund a standing army of a million+ on forestry fees and oil field royalties? Will exploration of the next great frontier be funded by an unrestricted commission from a wealthy benefactor?

Posted by SanPa | Report as abusive
 

So this elitist and clueless super rich moron wants to not pay any taxes to the country that allowed him the freedom, education, roads, internet, telecom, energy, military!!!!! Coast Guard, diplomats, negotiators, and on and on.
If all these super rich and totally arrogant people didn’t scam their way through life, they wouldn’t think this way. Did anyone ask him about how we defend out country?

Also, their big cry to eliminate corporate regulation and taxes kills me because it’s like the difference in sleeping on the street with no blanket in negative degree weather on a street that has the highest crime rate in the world if these countries operated elsewhere. They don’t want to pay taxes to a place that affords them the land, luxury, same stuff as above? I see how they send their workers overseas to save money but isn’t it worth a few extra dollars spent to have the best of everything anywhere you can find in the world?
I guess they don’t think that way and that’s why they need voices of sanity and the slaps in the face that Obama and all the SMART people exist for.

Posted by Moikyp | Report as abusive
 

Optional tax-paying by the most wealthy citizens — de facto if not de jure — has long been a reality in Greece, and it is one of the factors contributing to the mess they have there today.

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive
 

See the thing is, there are all these things that won’t get funded should we go with voluntary taxation. Things like public roads and public schools. So, unless the wealthy are going to start buying up property (hey, that might help us with our current economic issues) in order to build and maintain their own roads, it’s not going to happen. And unless the wealthy stop attending public schools (sure, they don’t commonly attend public k-12 schools, but higher education is a whole ‘nother ball of wax), it’s not going to happen. The only way the public gets to decide how their money gets spent on public resources is via a little process called voting. Where every voice is counted equally. Saying that the rich should be allowed to circumvent this process is outright anti-democratic. Just because one has money doesn’t mean one has more right to decide how it is used with regards to public resources, and should one choose to fund private resources, they are just what they are. Private. Not tax-funded. What one does on one’s own time has nothing to do with the public sector, and that the wealthy should even be given airtime to disseminate this cancer of an idea is embarrassing.

Posted by .erinnn. | Report as abusive
 

No representation without taxation, then. A citizen may choose to live forever free of any obligation to pay taxes, but upon making that choice, forever forfeits the right to vote, and is forever forbidden to hold public office or be otherwise employed at public expense.

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive
 

Yes, let’s bow our heads to Steve Jobs – the man with the vision to make us pay $1 for a song and put together his fancy phone with more 3rd world labour and goods than any other. If anything, his fortune should be seized and given to those he exploited over the years for pennies a day.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive
 

@TobyOnottoby or use the roads bridges or any other publicly funded/subsidized part of the infrastructure…well actually he is no longer a citizen has no right to a fair trial protection of the legal system, the list goes on and on…some rich people dont realize just how much they take for granted the tax of the poor that enables them to live in security with their wealth, try being rich in a third world country a lot of paranoia goes with it.

Posted by Gillyp | Report as abusive
 

As a guy working for a big bank, helping folks sift their way through the mess their mortgages have become; looking at bank statements, tax returns, etc;…..I’m shocked at how many folks do NOT pay taxes. I’m referring to people living in $300-500K homes…..nothing….zero. I think to myself….”Wow….really?” History will probably end up lumping us together with the complacency of Greece.

Posted by srgntnewkirk | Report as abusive
 

Neither Gates or Jobs invented anything; they commercialized existing technologies. That’s not to say they don’t deserve any reward, but they aren’t folk heroes except to the wealthy who want to justify they’re acquisitive behavior. How about celebrating the people who do the actual work?

Posted by JackRS | Report as abusive
 

Some of the commenters use a frequently-used technique to justify taxation – of course we need national defense, police, public roads and the other things which are core, primary functions of government – no rational person would contest that. But it is not the real issue – the revolt against taxation would not be occurring absent a record of unconscionable waste and government clumsily going far beyond its cote functions by showering largesse on favored constituencies (at the expense of others). Government’s current record cannot justify even more resources.

Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive
 

I really doubt Foster Friess or Bill Gates would be willing to pay the taxes it takes to keep the highways pothole free or the courts and prisons working. While he may call it “self-taxation”, it’s really just giving to charities to reduce his tax bill, but I don’t know why creating a Museum of Music would be considered a charity. Sorry Foster, your breezy excuses just don’t cut it.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

These people claim to be unhappy with the present state of affairs in our country. Are they really as unhappy as they say they are? Consider this: Extremely wealthy people can easily afford to live in, and to move to, any place in the world that they prefer. If they were as unhappy with our tax system and form of government as they claim to be, wouldn’t they all migrate to some other country that they think has a better system than we do?

Posted by Yowser | Report as abusive
 

Rich people have more money because they are worth more: they try harder, they work harder and don’t quit as easily, they push themselves, they use their brains to figure out advantage and above all they do not have self pity. No wonder you don’t like them – they beat you in every way. Like Micheal Jordan, they practice every move over and over, study their opponents and then unleash their skills with killer instinct. You could take away all their money and they will still be better. Say whatever you want, they don’t owe you anything. You have exactly what you deserve and you know it. Just get rid of self-pity and your sham pity for others, and you will see that nobody is doing anything for you or against you.

Posted by Pauli9363 | Report as abusive
 

As a physician, and working with all types of people, this is a very short sighted point of view. I can’t believe there are people who feel they can spout these types of comments.
It is obvious this person has never seen/felt true despair.
We need to stop interviewing these types.

Posted by Sundevils | Report as abusive
 

This gentleman should maybe follow first Bill Gates generosity before supporting Republican candidates.

This would bring him more respect and admiration from us the 99%.

Posted by StefanM | Report as abusive
 

So, let’s have the military funded by voluntary subscription. And the police. And the courts. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Or, does this sagacious scholar only advocate this laissez-faire approach for the rich? Is this just a variant of what we might call the Helmsley doctrine?

Posted by TheGodOfThunder | Report as abusive
 

Hi,
I would like to respond to txgadfly about :

“Now, we have rule with impunity based on political and / or financial power, more like France under the late monarchy in the 1700′s. Louis XVI also “self-taxed” to build the Palace of Versailles while his people died of hunger. This is the legacy of letting the rich rule.”

First of wall, Louis XVI did not build Versailles. It was Louis XIII who built the first Château and the Louis XIV project who made the great Château De Versailles has we know nowadays (I make a shortcut) and made a hole in the budget.

Hole that increased by 1 billion Livres Tournoi (1/3 of the French deficit before the Revolution of 1789 or 10 billion USD) in order to help Americans to beat The Royal British Army. Expenses which should have been reimburse. But Georges Washington did not keep his words whereas Thomas Jefferson said after Yorktown battle : “every man has two homelands: his country and France”.
So, without French taxes, it would not be USA. And with reimbursement, it would not be as much starved people in the France of the late 1700′s.

Please, stop the cliché, and remember that our common history, despite some scoldings like as in any family, proved us that we are cousins and brother of heart, not enemies.

Posted by P-M | Report as abusive
 

steve778936,
As callous as he says, he makes valid points. Investing in the arts, sciences, or medicines directly advances society. Wealthy people can exercise control and ensure their donation is being spent efficiently. What purpose does housing people who contribute nothing to the advancement of humanity do? It keeps politicians in power, but doesn’t do much else good.

Posted by djlowballer | Report as abusive
 

To read the thoughts of others is intereseting. Those without financial education come up with great stories of their own poverty. The article is correct. People who are high earners pay more than their fair share of taxes. How about all of you who want to work at my home and pay no taxes on what I pay you but you still charge me top dollar to do poor quality work. Yep, your out there. I prefer to spend my own money. Coming from poverty and working myself to the “weathly” required many sacrifices that you all won’t make but you want what I have. My income, my home, my savings. I would rather support those who will have the value of work. I do not support “takers” and there are many, too many. I like the Mormon way of helping the poverty in their culture. You may have food up to six month, seek education or training to get yourself on your feet AND NO MORE. So by the time your done you are self-sustaining and contributing to the other “victim”. Instead of complaining and blamining, what have YOU done to improve yourself for a new job, new skills, or to “just” educate yourself. When 48% support 52% there is a problem. AND Obamam knows it. He wants the 52% of the vote and they will vote for hime because the 52% want more from the 48%. The 99% want what the 1% have but don’t want to work over 40 hours a week, they want vacations, they want weekends off, etc. Well, the 1% works over 50 hours a week 24/7 on call, etc. You can do it to if you make the sacrifices. Just figure out how to get over, under, or around the barriers. We all have them. Oh, do you see how many have MEDICARE today in their 20′s physically fit to work a farm but when asked why do they have that card they say “I have a learning disability”. Hello, the 52% is growing – I have a learning disorder too because I can’t comprehend someone in their 20′s collecting social security because they have a learning disorder but have a body that can pick a farm. I guess I need to go to the Social Security office to file for my disability benefites “because I have a learning disorder comprehending why the lazy are getting so much of my money that I work for”. And the grasshopper kept singing and dancing while the ant worked to store food for the summer. When winter came the grasshopper had no food so he voted for Obama to make the ant give him some of his food. Next summer the ant was angry and refused to work. The next summer both the ant and the grasshopper died. That 52% number is getting larger and larger. Soon it will be where we all sit and watch tv, talk on cell phones, turn our heat up and all the lights on while someone else pays by sending a check to my bank account. Then I cry I can’t pay the heat bill or electric bill so they up the cost of electricity for someone else to pay for me, but we all are collecting and no one is paying.

Posted by Incomewise | Report as abusive
 

This guy must be thinking that Americans all fools. Very sad.

Posted by Feb2012 | Report as abusive
 

He obviously can afford to pay taxes. He obviously thinks that he knows better than anyone else how his money should be spent. I think he really belongs in some other country, because here in America, the whole premise is that everyone, under the law, is treated equally. We don’t have kings here in the US. If he considers himself one, let him buy his island and go live there, and give up his US passport. We’ll see how he likes living in a state where he can’t go anywhere for fear of being kidnapped or killed and where the government can take over his money for no reason at all. The government that he is so reluctant to support is the very thing that allows him to create his riches. Yet, in his arrogance, he believes he did it all himself, and should now be treated like royalty. If we the people don’t stop this nonsense then it will be the royals and the serfs all over again; the experiment in democracy will have failed if it hasn’t failed already.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive
 

I think it is duty of rich Americans to guarantee there is no hungry homeless and illiterate American. If any of the above is not fulfilled income over 250000 should be taxed at 60% and proceeds should be used to adress above conditions. if rich people think they can do the job more efficiently they should be given a chance.

Posted by GCV | Report as abusive
 

Oh, yeah, Bill Gates, the convicted monopolist who, like all the robber barons of the gilded age reaped huge ill-gotten gains by cheating. He’s the role model we want. This guy clearly doesn’t realize that us 99%ers know that he didn’t get where he is by virtue of hard work and brilliant execution. He got there by stacking the deck in his favor and being ruthless.

Posted by majkmushrm | Report as abusive
 

I can’t believe what this IDIOT is saying?!?! I’m not going to “honor” some schmuck just because he has a lot of money!! Who does he think he is?!?!? See thats the problem with guys like him..They think that they are some kind of “mini-gods” and the rest of us are all beholding to them and their “greatness”…

Well that’s BS—And if the question is between a government (We The People) versus some self-identified “mini-god”…then I will go for the government over him any day of the week…What a jerk!!!

Posted by Epsilon4 | Report as abusive
 

During the Golden age, in 60s-70s the rich payed about 90% tax on their earnings that were over $250,000. And back then an American worker was able to afford to feed a family of 4, and live in his own home. Today an honest man has to make a choice between gas and food.

Posted by Kcratos | Report as abusive
 

If these are the best arguments in favor of our current tax policies then I think it will only be a matter of time until taxes on the rich are increased. A 16 year old quoting Atlas Shrugged would be able to tell us as much.

The fact remains that we need to cut back in this country, if only temporarily. We can do this by reducing the size of government programs that are mostly used by the poor, or we can do it by increasing taxes on the rich, which would also serve to decrease the income/wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.

Or, as a reasonable person who doesn’t see everything in black and white would point out, we can do both, and everyone pays their fair share. This solution is obviously based in reason and evidence, rather than rhetoric and personal vindications, so leave it to the republicans to overlook it.

Posted by nero_ | Report as abusive
 

If these are the best arguments in favor of our current tax policies then I think it will only be a matter of time until taxes on the rich are increased. A 16 year old quoting Atlas Shrugged would be able to tell us as much.

The fact remains that we need to cut back in this country, if only temporarily. We can do this by reducing the size of government programs that are mostly used by the poor, or we can do it by increasing taxes on the rich, which would also serve to decrease the income/wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.

Or, as a reasonable person who doesn’t see everything in black and white would point out, we can do both, and everyone pays their fair share. This solution is obviously based in reason and evidence, rather than rhetoric and personal vindications, so leave it to the republicans to overlook it.

Posted by nero_ | Report as abusive
 

This guy needs to be given more rope to hang himself (and his buddies). Just stick a microphone in his face more often; he’s basically the perfect posterboy for the most hateable .01%. A self righteous, over-entitled super rich guy who thinks he’s better that everyone else and should be able to take his money and run, even though he made it using public infrastructure with a publicly educated workforce and has it protected by the police and military.

Anyone who uses the super duper scary stat that 46% of people don’t pay taxes needs to be automatically slapped in the mouth. They pay employment taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, state tax, sales tax, fees, tolls, gas taxes, etc, etc. Except they have crap for income to start with, so its much more of a burden for them than people who actually make decent money.

Posted by spall78 | Report as abusive
 

Neocons seem to be making a generalization error. In the great battle of the 20th century, market economics (capitalism) resoundingly beat the concept of centrally-planned economies. The problem is that neocons take this to mean that individual choice is always better than government policy – but this is an over-generalization, since a market is very much different from individual choices. What makes free markets effective is that they function as a distributed negotiation of price, in which no individual’s choice matters, except in that it contributes information to the underlying price decision.

The functioning of free markets has nothing to do with the presence or absence of one-percenters like Friess. Economically, his “self-taxation” is just another purchase: it makes no difference whether the museum is open to the public or not, or whether it’s a museum to himself or to music. It’s not taxation precisely because he is choosing it, merely gratifying his sense of self-importance.

Posted by markhahn | Report as abusive
 

Foster Friess demonstrates the same attitude of the Roman Patrician class – before the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 AD. That is – the plebeians (the 99%) – need the patricians to tell them how to dress, eat, talk to others, whom to marry, how to work, where to work, and what to own. If you pressed him on the issue of governance and who is entitled to govern or hold public office, his response would include only members of transplanted European aristocracy and nobility. Of course we would have to include the transplanted European landed gentry classes in that mix as well, forerunners of the American Whigs, direct ideological antecessors of the GOP.

Along with Mitt Romney, these two are the lap dogs of the American landed gentry class, if not their best spokesmen. Their ideology is deeply rooted in medieval thought and subsequently Calvinism. What would that be? Simple: some people are pre-destined to rule and enjoy life to the utmost, while the rest are reprobates foreordained to servitude and eternal condemnation. And there’s nothing that the Almighty Himself could do to change it if even He wanted to.

No small wonder some people are taking to the streets already. If these characters, and anyone of their political ilk, continue peddling their disastrous ideology on the American political scene, there won’t anything even remotely resembling a middle class in another 50 years.

Posted by USDemocrat | Report as abusive
 

this guy actually calls himself a CHRISTIAN??? what a joke

Posted by rsh1955 | Report as abusive
 

Surely, Friess understands that it costs a lot of money to run the American government. If he doesn’t understand that, surely he must understand that the American government is deeply in debt.

Charity is fine, but charity cannot be America’s priority. Somebody has to pay America’s way through the world. If the 46% of Americans who pay no taxes had all of their cash, bank accounts and personal property confiscated by the America government, leaving them naked, hungry and homeless, there would still not be enough money in that pile to run the American government for one year.

Exactly who does Friess think is going to pay for operations and debt service… the tooth fairy?

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive
 

So let me get this straight. You shouldn’t tax the rich because they give money to charities, correct? Can he prove that with ALL the rich, like I can with taxing ALL the rich? Does 100 million donated to PETA from Paris Hilton (just a fictitious example) translate into the same benefits as tax money used to fix bridges, fund education or help the poor? Not that I’m against the arts, but 200 million to open up a music museum doesn’t mean a thing to me! 200 million being used for infrastructure or vaccinations for poor children or repairing crumbling schools THAT would mean something. This guy’s an idiot and so is Santorum!

Posted by TherealDC | Report as abusive
 

Santorum is huge on morals, but it doesn’t apply to him? Taxes are a moral obligation to society.

Posted by ChuckCooper | Report as abusive
 

People must pay taxes but it only makes sense that all people pay. Nothing good can come from shifting all taxes to less than half the population. It undermines the two-party system by insuring one side will continue to make promises for votes while taxing the other side to pay for the goodies. We should also immediately enact Term Limits to reduce political cronyism and corruption.

Posted by BannedPhoenix | Report as abusive
 

Grow up and just pay your taxes! You may be rich, but at the end of the day, you are just another person, like everyone else – flawed, mortal, and sorely in need of developing a sense of empathy, and compassion for the many other people who have made your elite lifestyle a reality.

Perhaps a few months (or years) swinging a sledge hammer in a granite quarry in India, where the source material for your luxury granite Kitchen came from, will give you some perspective.

Posted by CanyonLiveOak | Report as abusive
 

All the coverage of Friess’s aspirin comment has had the effect of whitewashing him as some sort of curmudgeonly, old-fashioned grampa. This interview exposes him as just another plutocratic greed-head. And it explains his support for Santorum — he doesn’t care about “social” issues, he just doesn’t want the moocher class to get things like public education and no-co-pay contraception unless it’s through the noblesse oblige of him and his pals. What a creep.

(BTW, thanks to Chris Hayes, you’ve acquired at least one new reader today.)

Posted by hellsltlstangel | Report as abusive
 

It’s like Disraeli’s Two Nations concept. I don’t know any wealthy people personally because they live in gated communities designed to shut me out, sit in luxury boxes at ball games instead of the bleachers, have exclusive country clubs where I am not welcome, etc. And I doubt Mssr. Friess knows many poor people (though if he looks out of his limo window he may catch a glimpse of some as his car takes him to work on an overpass at 70 mph some morning.) I’m sure that whatever charity wealthy people give to, they receive something in return.

Let’s put this “no tax” hypothesis to the test, and insist that the Department of Defense budget be met on the basis of charitable contributions only.

Posted by gangof4 | Report as abusive
 

I’ve dealt w the uber rich ‘professional volunteers’ ~ here’s how their gig in life goes:

You pick a charity. You donate a very sizable sum. You get invited to be on the board of said charity.

Here comes the swag ~

U want an intimate affair to mingle w some business prospects? Throw a ‘fund-raiser’ ~ usually a very nice affair include a concert and dinner.

You write off EVERY BIT of the expenses as Ur PERSONAL DONATION. #Winning! U get the big creds, you also get a freebie corporate boost.

These people MOOCH ~ this is how they get the nice meals, the travel, the entertainment, and that ALL important RECOGNITION.

This goes on year in year out ~ every day ~ somewhere. They MOOCH to Live the Life Dolce Vita.

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers”~their need to ‘rub elbows’ with the ‘power elites’~ALL written off their taxes ~ thereby TAKING $$$$ FROM THE TAXPAYERS WHO DO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE.

“Working the System” = Foster Freiss & fellow elites on the dole.

Want to balance the US budget? AUDIT every NON-PROFIT this Corporate Welfare Queen ilk has their names attached to.

Posted by mommadona | Report as abusive
 

They’ve already practically stopped paying taxes!
All that’s left is for the hired hacks in government to make it permanent official policy.
As Leona Helmsley once put it: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Under Republican control, American plutocrats would reduce the social safety net to levels not seen since Victorian England.

And the role of government to something like what you have in Somalia. What a contrast to what Lincoln eloquently expressed that role to be: “…to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”

It’s a bitter pill for the less-fortunate majority to swallow.
But these obscene money-bags hope that superstition (a.k.a. religion) will fill the void the way it does in all desperately poor ignorant countries.

No wonder this guy is such a staunch a supporter of Ayatollah Santorum.

Posted by jrpardinas | Report as abusive
 

If Fries wants a system where the rich don’t pay taxes than, according to the principle of equal protection of the laws, no one will pay income taxes? He’s really a Libertarian. These presidential candidates never speak about the issue of State and Local taxes and what will happen to them.

I’m sure he doesn’t believe that could happen any more than most of these comments do, so why do they even bring it up? But he is full of himself to think that people deep in debt with no ability to get loans are going to be able to much of anything but pay their credit card bills. When my small business was still alive, even I could hire the occasional part time helper of small-scale service to help around. Now I can’t even do that.

BTW: just a point of minor accuracy – Louis XVI did not build the palace, his great-great-grandfather Louis XIV did. But the fashionable architect, Richard Mique, who built the Hameu where she grazed sheep in an artificial rustic village, soaked his wife shamelessly. Aristocrats were not raised to understand financial matters.

French aid to the American War of Independence did more harm to the national budget that the costs of the Court at Versailles. The money spent by the court stayed in the country and was recycled, so to speak. Louis and Marie Antoinette were even hated for trying to economize. It put too many people out of work.

The money spent on the American war effort was a loss, except for continued friendship with a colony that really couldn’t return the favor. And French Nobles were taxed per head. The Capitation was a tax levied on the Noblesse on a yearly basis. Their enormous lands were not taxed. And Louis XIV had a finance minister, Vauban, a former military architect, who had devised a system of rational land taxation that even the builder of Versailles was afraid would spark a revolution (from the top) if he tried to implement it. Actually, Versailles was an enormous public works project. His wars and defeats really started the downward slide of the French treasury.

And Plutarch was a Greek historian from the first century AD. Not that I ever read him. I tend to confuse him with Petrarch from the Italian Renaissance.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive
 

Are republicans nuts to let this guy be interviewed? I mean are they even trying to win in 2012? This is just too easy.

Posted by tomsawyer | Report as abusive
 

This self-styled ‘master spin doctor’ is blowing so much fertilizer into the air, it’s a wonder we can all still breathe! He’s hoping and praying (to MAMMON, his true God)that we the people DON’T have, or have access to, an undergrad student to slice-and-dice his empty rhetoric.

He ACTUALLY THINKS we are stupid enough to FALL FOR THIS. Typical GNoP arrogance.

Forget the “Buffett Rule” slapping him down — BUFFETT HIMSELF should slap this fool down!

“Self-tax” — from the same minds that gave us “Class Warfare”.

Posted by TheDangerousElf | Report as abusive
 

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