A Wonderful Reminder to Be Charitable
While Warren Buffett and his liberal pals in Washington stoke the fires of class warfare and begrudge millionaires to the point that he’s had his own failed income tax idea named after him, his middle son, Howard G. Buffett, has been bumping around the fields of his Illinois farm trying to come up with ways the private sector can help feed the needy.
What follows is a delicious tale of irony and dichotomy between a wealthy liberal father, who would help President Obama fulfill his dreams of federally administered wealth redistribution, and a wealthy son, who during a day’s farming, struggles on his own to come up with ways he might be able to help the hungry.
Introduced in a Thursday Wall Street Journal piece, “From the Field to the Food Pantry,” by Melanie Grayce West, Mr. Buffett the younger has come up with a brilliant and simple plan. The idea is to coordinate farmers in Illinois to donate the crop yields of just one acre of their farms per year.
Mr. Buffett, once a senior executive with Archer Daniels Midland Co., will donate $3 million up front from his own foundation to kick-start promotions and administration of the plan, and will help coordinate the area farmers with ADM so that the food finally gets to the largest hunger relief group in the country, Feeding America.
Since there are 80,000 farmers working with ADM, and the average acreage farmed by each farmer is 1,500 acres, the potential windfall in food is staggering. Each acre of corn could yield about 150 bushels. Mr. Buffett points out that generosity among farmers is second nature, and so he has great confidence in the future success of the plan.
Now, the Warren Buffett Foundation is very generous, and donates millions to many worthwhile causes. There is no intent here to malign Warren Buffett’s integrity, or his generosity in that regard. It is simply to point out the ideological and political differences at play here on how and who can best help the less fortunate in America.
The left clings, despite decades of failure, to the idea that the federal government is best equipped to help lift the disadvantaged from poverty. For that matter, the left believes the federal government can best deal with all societal ills. No matter what one wants to talk about, the solution has always been to tax more, spend more, control more.
Public education failing? Throw more money at it. Energy? Throw more money at it. And on and on it goes.
The “Buffett Rule,” which thankfully went down to defeat in the Senate this week, was a cynical attempt by Obama, Warren Buffett and the Democrats to confiscate a minimum of 30 percent in taxes from millionaires.
For a time, it fed nicely off this year’s whiny Occupy Wall Street movement and the idea that inequality in the country is due in part to the fact that the rich are too rich and need to be forced by the government to give up more of their income for redistributive purposes.
No one in the left in general, in government, or in this movement, has yet explained why it is that none of America’s societal ills have yet been fixed, despite increasing federal expenditure year after year to the point that we now approach a $16 trillion national debt.
The greatest problem, however, with the “confiscate from the rich to pay for the poor” schemes of the left is that they just plain create ill will. They divide us into classes. They make people feel targeted as having done something wrong while working to become successful. They rip from the maligned any desire to be charitable.
On the other hand, when government isn’t breathing down our necks, threatening us with higher taxes and dividing us into classes, we’re far more apt to be generous. And this story about an individual devising private ways to help the needy just makes me want to jump up and cheer.
It’s inspiring and makes me once again want to be generous and helpful to those in need. This week, and on a more regular basis, I will deliver bags of groceries to our own food bank. And I will be thinking about other ways I can help.
Thank you for that wonderful reminder, Mr. Howard G. Buffett.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at geoff
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