Monthly Archives: November 2011

Occupy Australia! Bushbama trades unearned Nobel Peace Prize for Salesman-of-the-Year Trophy from U.S. Defense Contractors

Occupy Australia! Bushbama trades unearned Nobel Peace Prize for Salesman-of-the-Year Trophy from U.S. Defense Contractors

This week, while across America thousands of Veterans and other concerned Citizens protest the corporate takeover of our Republic and hundreds of those Patriots are beaten and arrested, our Kleptocracy-controlled puppet president Bushbama traded his unearned Nobel Peace Prize for a well-deserved Salesman-of-the-Year trophy from the Military Industrial Complex by sealing deals with our Australian and Pacific “allies” to establish or expand American military bases there to assure the continuing payment of trillions of borrowed dollars to war profiteers like GE, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel and the rest to defend us all from China – our primary source of production – should they ever choose to attack America – their primary source of consumption.

“The United States announced plans Wednesday to establish a permanent military presence in Australia, part of a high-profile foreign policy shift toward Asia that is intended as a counterbalance to China’s growing power.  Starting next summer, the U.S. will send 250 Marines to bases here for six-month tours, eventually rotating 2,500 troops through the country.  President Obama announced the partnership at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, describing it as a key step in his administration’s evolving emphasis on the Asia Pacific region as the U.S. winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“China is apparently a little upset about this, probably because of the explicit reference to ‘counteracting China’s growing power.’  But let’s be realistic, here.  Australia is 4,641 miles [actually less between nearest borders] from China.  It’s only 2,600 miles from Northern Alaska to China.  The US already has presences in Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.  There’s no reason in the world to station 250 Marines in Australia, and it’s beyond a joke to say that they have anything to do with containing China.  This needless drive to place little army men around the globe like it’s a Risk board, regardless of the expense, only serves a purpose for the little megalomaniacs in the Pentagon who think we have to stretch our military might everywhere.  For the rest of us, it just flushes our tax dollars down the drain.”

“The transcontinental apathy to America’s takeover of Australia had dulled me to dreariness.  Sycophantic talkback and commentary saluting the smooth transition of our country into a US territory made me wonder why I bothered leaving all those notes.  Luckily a repeat broadcast of US President Obama’s Parliament House speech has risen me from the somnambulance of my fellow Cobbers.  (NB for folks under 25, that’s what Aussies used to call our Buddies)…  Having half a clue about some of the plans that have been in process for years to get America and Australia’s relationship to the point it is today… arr, stuffit, as the Yanks would say, call a spade a spade and spell it out.  We just got Occupied!  Maybe Cheney and Co wrote the script that Bush and Howard spoke from, but now Obama and Gillard reciting the lines I start to wonder again where the words these puppet-monarchs spruik truly originate…  It would seem that the schemes of the Project For A New American Century are alive and well.”

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FedEx Plundering and the Piecemeal Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service

FedEx Plundering and the Piecemeal Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service

“FedEx Corp [formerly Federal Express] is the world’s top express delivery service, thanks in large part to its close relationship with members of Congress and the White House.  For years, the company has been a major campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans and is famous for its unique lobbying tactics, including the fleet of private planes that it keeps on stand-by for lawmakers who need to jet off at a moment’s notice.  In exchange, the company has gotten unparalleled access to debates over international trade, tax cuts and rules that govern the business practices of its one-time competitor, the United States Postal Service [USPS].  In 2001, FedEx cemented a groundbreaking deal with the USPS to deliver all of the post office’s overnight packages and express deliveries.  In turn, FedEx was allowed to put its drop boxes in post offices around the country.”

Since 1989 FedEx has made over $20 million in campaign contributions to both Republicans (60%) and Democrats (40%), and since 1997 spent a staggering $80 million lobbying the Washington elite.  In return they have been “awarded” over $11.8 billion in federal government defense, transportation and logistics contracts over the past decade, and they have seated at least 29 of their employees on key federal “advisory” committees at the Department of Transportation and elsewhere.

FedEx has also benefited greatly in recent years from a series of legislative and regulatory changes that might best be described as the systematic piecemeal privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, key among those changes being the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) that required the Postal Service to prefund the health care benefits of future retirees – a burden no other government agency or private company bears – and contained other provisions that made it difficult if not impossible for the USPS to operate at optimum efficiency and effectively compete with companies like FedEx and the United Parcel Service (UPS).  Those “other provisions” contributed far more to the $5.1 billion loss the USPS reported this week than did the impact of the Internet on first class mail volumes.

Also contributing greatly to USPS losses are the billions of dollars that – thanks to crony capitalism – they have been forced to pay to big-name federal contractors for transportation, technology and other outsourcing and support services that could be done in-house for much less money.  FedEx ranks #1 on Top U.S. Postal Service Suppliers List, raking in over $1.3 billion in 2010 alone:

Audits released by the USPS Office of the Inspector General published last year disclosed that millions of the dollars funneled to FedEx were unnecessary and wasteful, proving that their deal with FedEx was only a deal FOR FedEx.  Here is a quote from of those audits:

“It was more effective and economical in some cases for the Capital Metro, Eastern, Great Lakes, and Northeast Areas to use ground transportation and domestic air carriers as well as to sort mail at Postal Service plants than to use FedEx to perform these functions.  Because the areas used FedEx, the Postal Service incurred about $35.3 million in unnecessary costs.  If these areas implement our recommended changes, we estimate the Postal Service could save $170.6 million over a 10-year period.”

On a combined basis, the OIG audits showed THE CONTRACT WITH FEDEX HAS SQUANDERED OVER $94 BILLION SO FAR, AND COULD WASTE ANOTHER $480 MILLION OR MORE if allowed to continue:

The United States Postal Service cannot be expected to successfully compete with companies like FedEx when those companies are using political influence and payola to place undue financial burdens on the USPS, to force wasteful and unnecessary outsourcing, to mangle its business practices and to cripple its efficiency.  To better understand what corporate greed and systematic kleptocracy have done to (take over) our mail service and how, these three references are must-reads:

The Strange Story of Postal Reform

How to Privatize the Post Office: Piece by Piece, Step by Step

Battle Over USPS Future Enters Critical Period

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Bechtel Group: Well-Connected Water Privatizers & War Profiteers

Bechtel Group: Well-Connected Water Privatizers & War Profiteers
Global Revolution 1: American Revolution 2: Day 61: Communication 1
IronBoltBruce’s Kleptocracy Chronicles for 16 Nov 2011 (g1a2d0061c1)
How many examples of greed and corruption must you see before you act?

The Bechtel Group is the largest engineering company and third largest privately-owned company in America.  Headquartered in San Francisco, they have about 50,000 employees working on projects in about 50 countries.  Bechtel participated in the building of Hoover Dam in the 1930s.  It was also involved in several other high profile construction engineering projects such as the Channel Tunnel, numerous power projects, refineries, nuclear power plants, BART, Jubail Industrial City, the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, the Kingdom Centre and Tower in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong International Airport, the Boston Big Dig, the rebuilding of the infrastructure of Iraq funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the hauling and installing of more than 35,000 trailers and mobile homes for Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi.

Since 1989 Bechtel has contributed over $5.5 million to both Democratic (46%) and Republican (54%) political candidates, and since 1997 has invested over $1.1 million in lobbying.  For that relatively modest amount of payola – and despite multiple instances of legal and regulatory violations documented in the POGO Federal Contractor Misconduct Database – they’ve been “awarded” more than $41.3 billion in defense and other government contracts since 2000, including over $3.9 billion from the Obama Administration just last year, and over $203 million from the Obama DOE just last month.

And how does Bechtel get (away with) so much for so little?  Connections, that’s how…  Jane Mayer of The New Yorker wrote about the connections of Bechtel with the Bin Laden family, the Bush family, and administration officials:  “The bin Ladens have a ten million dollar stake in the Fremont Group, a San Francisco-based company formerly called Bechtel Investments, which was until 1986 a subsidiary of Bechtel.  The Fremont Group’s website, which makes no mention of the bin Ladens, notes that ‘though now independent, Fremont enjoys a close relationship with Bechtel.’  Mayer further wrote, “One Fremont director, Riley Bechtel, is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Bechtel Group, and [was] a member of the Bush administration: he was appointed … to serve on the President’s Export Council.  In addition, George P. Shultz, the Secretary of State in the Ronald Reagan Administration, [served] as a director both of Fremont and of the Bechtel Group, where he once was president…” wrote in 2003, “Many Americans may be unaware of the connection between the Bechtel Corporation and the U.S.-led war in Iraq.  Bechtel employees like George Shultz not only used their political influence to help bring this war about, but key Bechtel board members and employees with advisory positions to the Bush Administration helped ensure that Bechtel would receive one of the most lucrative contracts for rebuilding what they had helped to destroy.  On April 17 [less than 30 days after the Iraqi War began on March 20] Bechtel received one of the first and largest of the rebuilding contracts in Iraq.  Worth $680 million over 18 months, the contract [included] the rebuilding, repair and/or assessment of virtually every significant element of Iraq’s infrastructure, from power generation facilities to electrical grids to the municipal water and sewage systems.  The contract was granted in backroom deals without open and transparent bidding processes and the content remains hidden behind a veil of secrecy.  The contract has not been publicly disclosed to American taxpayers…”

By 2007 those Iraqi reconstruction millions had blossomed into billions – for which a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction revealed Bechtel failed to meet the contractual goals most of the time.  It is alleged that some of the construction projects managed by Bechtel were either poorly implemented, failing within months of their installation, or designed in such a way that Iraqi engineers did not have the knowledge or components to fix Bechtel’s proprietary technology.

This was not the first time the engineering giant proved to be a washout, especially with water systems:  In September 1999, Bechtel signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the elected president and former dictator of Bolivia, to privatize the water supply in Bolivia’s third-largest city, Cochabamba.  The contract was officially awarded to Aguas del Tunari, a consortium in which Bechtel held a 27.5 percent interest.  Shortly thereafter, claims surfaced that water rates in that city went up an average of about 50 percent and that EVEN THE COLLECTION OF RAINWATER WAS MADE ILLEGAL as a result of the privatization contract.  Both of these actions resulted in the Cochabamba protests of 2000.  Many had to withdraw their children from school and stop using doctors because of higher costs for water.  Martial law was declared, and Bolivian police killed at least 6 people and injured over 170 protesters.  Amidst Bolivia’s nationwide economic collapse and growing political unrest, the Bolivian government cancelled the water contract.

For Bechtel, it was just bad luck they didn’t have any Bushbamas or Bin Ladens to go to bat for them in Bolivia…


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IBM, Hitler and the Holocaust: A Terrible Tale of Capitalism Without Conscience

IBM, Hitler and the Holocaust: A Terrible Tale of Capitalism Without Conscience

This is taken from “Six million and counting”, written by Peter Preston for The Observer, Saturday 17 February 2001:

Hitler’s Holocaust was happening anyway. With IBM’s help, it was easier, as Edwin Black demonstrates in [his book entitled] ‘IBM and the Holocaust’

You thought, perhaps, that there was nothing fresh left to write about the Holocaust. Think, sadly, again. Edwin Black, a dedicated, even driven, researcher, has a new charge sheet to present. It shows, in compelling detail, that IBM, ‘the solutions company’, was also the company of the Final Solution.

How did Hitler, from 1933 on, find, herd and exterminate millions of his Jewish victims with such sickening precision? Easy. IBM, through its German subsidiary, Dehomag, ran his censuses and surveys on its unique punch-card tabulators. It provided the vital infrastructure for persecution and the the silence of the gas chambers. What is more, it knew exactly what it was doing.

Thomas Watson, the chief executive who built one of America’s greatest international enterprises, did not receive the Merit Cross of the German Eagle for nothing, but for services knowingly rendered. Watson is the villain of this piece. He was a classic American success story, the sewing-machine salesman who became corporate emperor, president of the International Chamber of Commerce and chum of FDR, but also a covert admirer of the Third Reich who peddled his hanging chads with fawning eagerness.

There is no scope for doubt. Black has a relentless flow of memos, letters and speeches. When Watson wrote in 1937 (long after his punch cards had begun their whirring work) that the world ‘must extend a sympathetic understanding to the German people and their aims under the leadership of Adolf Hitler’, he had the clearest knowledge of what those aims entailed.

His fractious underling at the Dehomag subsidiary put it yet more chillingly: ‘We are very much like physicians,’ he told his Nazi audience, ‘in that we dissect, cell by cell, the German cultural body… these are not dead little cards; quite to the contrary, they prove later on that they come to life when they are sorted at 25,000 an hour according to certain characteristics.’

As the war took hold, Watson found himself trapped between a PR rock and a ruthless hard place. He sent his medal back and disavowed his German clients, but he still kept the tabulators turning, still gathered the profits, was still on hand as the conflict ended to turn Dehomag into IBM Germany and go marching on. That, in a sense, is all you need to know. It is a distinctive contribution to the history of the time. It wholly justifies Black’s years of toil. At such a distance, however, the reader inevitably looks for understanding beyond the damning facts, for a more contemporary relevance to set multinational America wriggling uneasily in its chair. Such parallels are easy enough to construct.

‘Watson was no fascist. He was pure capitalist. But the horseshoe of political economics finds little distance between extremities. Accretion of wealth by and for the state under a strong autocratic leader fortified by jingoism and hero-worship was appealing to Watson. After all, his followers wore uniforms, sang songs and were expected to display unquestioned loyalty to the company he led.’…

The facts (to reiterate) speak for themselves. Hitler would have had his Holocaust without IBM’s willing efforts, but it would have been a longer, less clinically efficient business. IBM helped the trains to his concentration camps run on time, spewed out the cards for slave labour and watched its stock-market majesty grow. It was the backbone of Auschwitz and Roosevelt’s first social security programme, a ‘service industry’ which existed to serve whoever paid the bill and not to make moral judgments until forced to confront them.

That, in itself, is a terrible warning…


By way of custom of international law, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are usually not subject to statute of limitations, nor to prescription. This custom has been codified in a number of multilateral treaties. States that ratify the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity agree to not allow limitations claims for these crimes. Article 29 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes “shall not be subject to any statute of limitations”.


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Honeywell International: Police Predators, Pantex, Pollution & Payola

Honeywell International: Police Predators, Pantex, Pollution & Payola

Honeywell International is a Fortune 100 aviation, aerospace and defense conglomerate based in Morristown NJ.  They manufacture flight safety and landing systems as well as jet engines, including engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as those used in our omnipresent CIA’s MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) drones.  They also manufacture the “snoop drone” T-Hawk Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) featured in the video links below and soon to be deployed by a Big Brother/DHS-funded police force near you, but Honeywell has no monopoly on the boom in converting the Skynet-like technology America uses to kill civilians abroad for use in controlling the citizenry at home:

Honeywell is in the consortium that runs the “Pantex Plant” near Amarillo TX that assembles all of the nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal.  Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, successor to the defense products of AlliedSignal, operates the Kansas City Plant (where workers are currently on strike for safer working conditions) which produces and assembles 85 percent of the non-nuclear components of the bombs.  Honeywell also makes automation and control equipment used in home and industrial heating, and car products such as Prestone and FRAM.

The Center for Responsive Politics classifies Honeywell as a “Heavy Hitter” in the Washington political payola department.  Since 1999 they have made $9,762,160 in political contributions – 53% to Republicans, 47% to Democrats – including $54,060 to John McCain and $46,957 to Barack Obama.  In addition, since 1997 they have invested over $52 million lobbying both sides of the aisle.

In return for their bipartisan generosity, Honeywell has been “awarded” over $27 billion in government contracts since 2000, and over $2.5 billion last year alone.  And those fat federal contracts keep right on coming despite the fact that since 1995 Honeywell has had 40 cases of misconduct totaling $703.2 million documented by the POGO Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.  This makes Honeywell not only a “heavy hitter” but a “frequent offender”, as are most of our Pentagon profiteers – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, et al.  Honeywell’s offenses include but are not limited to: mischarging the government, defective products, illegal storage of hazardous waste, unreported hazardous chemical releases, unauthorized chemical discharges, nuclear regulatory violations, labor law violations, patent infringement, copyright infringement, securities fraud, illegal monopolization, illegal exportation of chemicals, air quality violations, releas!
e of hazardous air pollutants, water quality violations, environmental quality violations, waste management violations, age discrimination, ADA and OSHA violations.

Honeywell ranks high not only in Federal Contractor Misconduct but also among Toxic Air Polluters:

And not included in any of the above is their historic role in making New York’s Onondaga Lake one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States.  For their corporate culpability they agreed to pay $451 million, which for Honeywell International amounts to a penalty of less than 5 days’ revenue:

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Mediagopoly: The Megacorps that Control Mainstream Media and Much More

Mediagopoly: The Megacorps that Control Mainstream Media and Much More

“The U.S. media landscape is dominated by massive corporations that, through a history of mergers and acquisitions, have concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read.  In many cases, these giant companies are vertically integrated, controlling everything from initial production to final distribution.”  This chart shows who owns what:

When we say these megacorps control mainstream media “and much more”, part of what we refer to is covered in the Related Videos listed below.  Here’s the other part:  According to numbers provided by, from 1989 to now the Top Politician Recipient for 6 of the 7 members of the Mediagopoly is none other than Barack H. Obama, current President of the United States.  For the one exception, Viacom, he was still in their top three.  Note that even News Corporation – owner of Fox News, supposedly Obama’s primary media detractor – sent big bucks his way:

Time Warner            $664,884
General Electric (GE)   536,580
Walt Disney             456,768
News Corp.              383,669
Comcast                 285,186
Viacom                  137,950
CBS Corp.                71,320

A growing number of political commentators contend that the outcomes of America’s major elections are decided in boardrooms rather than ballot boxes, and this observation is certainly consistent with that contention.  Either way, here are the media megacorps who helped assure Barack Obama would be “the Chosen One” in 2008 (Note that SCOTUS forever besmirched its integrity by certifying a similar predetermined outcome for predecessor puppet George W. Bush in 2000):

1 of 6: GE/Comcast

General Electric (GE) media-related holdings include a minority share in television networks NBC and Telemundo, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, 26 television stations in the United States and cable networks MSNBC, Bravo and the Sci Fi Channel.  GE also owns 80 percent of NBC Universal.  On January 18, 2011 the Federal Communications Commission approved Comcast’s take-over of a majority share of NBC-Universal from General Electric.  However, General Electric still has a 49% ownership stake in NBC-Universal.

More about GE:

More about Comcast:

2 of 6 : Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company owns the ABC Television Network, cable networks including ESPN, the Disney Channel, SOAPnet, A&E and Lifetime, 277 radio stations, music and book publishing companies, production companies Touchstone, Miramax and Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, the cellular service Disney Mobile, and theme parks around the world.

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3 of 6: News Corporation

Headed by the infamous Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation’s holdings include: the Fox Broadcasting Company; television and cable networks such as Fox, Fox Business Channel, National Geographic and FX; print publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and TV Guide; the magazines Barron’s and SmartMoney; book publisher HarperCollins; film production companies 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Studios; numerous websites including; and non-media holdings including the National Rugby League.

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4 of 6: Time Warner

Time Warner is the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW (a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, America Online, MapQuest, Moviefone, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock and New Line Cinema, and more than 150 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Marie Claire and People.

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5 of 6: Viacom

Viacom holdings include: MTV, Nickelodeon/Nick-at-Nite, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, Atom Entertainment, and music game developer Harmonix.  Viacom 18 is a joint venture with the Indian media company Global Broadcast news.

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6 of 6: CBS Corporation

CBS Corporation owns the CBS Television Network, CBS Television Distribution Group, the CW (a joint venture with Time Warner), Showtime, book publisher Simon & Schuster, 30 television stations, and CBS Radio, Inc., which has 130 stations.  CBS is now the leading supplier of video to Google’s Video Marketplace.

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Berkshire Hathaway: The Oracle of Omaha Says Throw’em a Bone So We Can Keep What We Own!

Berkshire Hathaway: The Oracle of Omaha Says Throw'em a Bone So We Can Keep What We Own!

If your mind is media-managed like that of most Americans, hearing the name “Warren Buffett” immediately spawns images of a nice old man with a twinkle in his eye – and billions in the bank – who reminds you of your Grandpa (or the Grandpa you wish you had).  Well, Warren Buffett is a “man” … and he is 80 years “old” … but he is NOT “nice”.  Check the facts:  Warren Buffett is Chairman and CEO of the Fortune 500 conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, but he had nothing to do with founding that company.  Rather, he took it over so he could fire what may have been one of the last men to mess with him.  It should also not go unmentioned that – given his $5 billion investment in Bank of America this past August – Buffet stood to pocket a pretty penny from their $5 debit card fees if BOA had not cowered and caved.

Through the companies and brands owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett makes money off almost every American almost every day.  I would wager that 90% of you reading this directly or indirectly contributed to the bottom line of more than one of Warren Buffett’s companies more than once in the past 90 days:

The GEICO Gecko, the Fruit of the Loom guys, Dairy Queen’s old-fashioned shaving bunnies, and yes even those four former General Re executives who just got their AIG-related fraud and conspiracy convictions overturned on a technicality are (or were) drummers and shills for Warren Buffett.  Sensing mortality (or feeling guilty) perhaps, Buffett has made massive philanthropic moves in recent years.  But I’d say his primary motivator is still greed – if not in the having, then at least in the getting.  And like any winning chess player, Buffett thinks no more about sacrificing a pawn than he does about throwing dogs a bone.  Just as he did here…

The following is a 14 August 2011 Op-Ed contribution by Warren Buffett to the New York Times.  It is entitled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich”, but clearly conveys the message “Throw’em a Bone So We Can Keep What We Own!”:

[The words of Warren Buffet begin here]

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill – the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf – was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income – and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine – most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone – not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 – shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion – a staggering $227.4 million on average – but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million – there were 236,883 such households in 2009 – I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more – there were 8,274 in 2009 – I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

[The words of Warren Buffet end here]

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