Giving back

Posted: Jun 29, 2006 12:01 AM

Warren Buffet is giving away about 85% of his fortune. Now that certainly makes Warren a very special guy, and the media is fawning over him as if he had discovered a cure for baldness, age spots and body odor in one fell swoop. Nice goin’, Warren, but you are going to be left with – what? About $6 billion and change? Why that’s more than some people make in their entire lives! So it’s not as if you’ve agreed to a pre-mortem organ donation now is it? There’s still going to be a bit left over for the progeny, right?

I heard the nice talking heads on ABC’s Good Morning America yammering about Buffet’s grand gesture. They said he was going to “give back” some of his “winnings.” Now there’s a curious turn of a phrase. You see, all this time I was operating under the clearly mistaken assumption that Warren Buffet had actually earned that money. I thought he worked for it. Now I learn that somehow – somewhere – he actually won it, and now he’s going to give some of it back!

OK, Mr. Buffet, which is it here? Did you earn the money, win it, or was it given to you? ABC can’t seem to make up their minds, so maybe you could help us out here.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle seems to be on this “give back” kick also. In the current issue of this excellent business newspaper there are a few articles detailing research that says Atlanta is going to lead the nation’s metropolitan areas in the creation of new millionaires over the next five years. Sounds like a good time to be living and working in Atlanta, doesn’t it? But wait! It’s not as if these new millionaires are actually going to work for their money. It seems it’s going to be given to them! The lead paragraph in one of the Business Chronicle stores reads: “Multiplying millionaires will dramatically alter the way Atlantans live, shop, bank and give back over the next several years.”

So … there’s that “give back” thing again! It’s everywhere! The July 10th edition of Newsweek Magazine carries the banner “The Giving Back Awards.” The accompanying article details 15 “winners” who are helping other people by “giving back.” The honorees include entrepreneurs such as Pierre Omidyar who built a sizeable fortune what is now known as eBay; Brad Pitt who has earned a few bucks being handsome, and Randy Rusk, a Colorado rancher.

Are you noticing a trend here? Nobody, and especially not the evil rich, is actually earning anything any more. They’re winning! Or, if they’re not winning their fortunes, someone is giving it to them! And let’s not forget former Democrat House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt! Gephardt liked to refer to Americans who worked their spot in the top 20% of income earners as those who “have won life’s lottery.” Yup! It’s the old “winning” theme again.

Edward L. Rubin, the Dean of the Vanderbilt University Law School recently wrote a widely published opinion piece promoting the concept of wealth confiscation and redistribution. Rubin wrote “At present, the top fifth of the population receives more than 59 percent of the nation’s annual income, while the bottom fifth receives around 3.5 percent.” Once again, these people didn’t earn their wealth, in this case they merely “received” it.

Hopefully there’s a little light bulb floating over your head by now. If you haven’t completely abandoned your logical thought capabilities you realize that these people aren’t “giving back” anything. They’re just plain giving! “Giving back” means that you are returning someone else’s property. “Giving,” means that you are giving away that which you own. You can’t give back something unless it was given to you or you took it in the first place.

Something in the illogical and irrational way that liberals perceive our world has rendered poisonous the very idea that anyone who has achieved great wealth actually did so through hard work. This “giving back” nonsense completely negates the reality that the people doing all of the donating actually earned that which they are giving through hard work, good choices, responsible decision-making and perseverance.

“Oh,” your typical liberal will say, “they didn’t earn that money, they inherited it!” Right. Tell that to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The inconvenient truth for the wealth redistributionist crowd is that fewer than two percent of millionaires in this country inherited their wealth. God forbid that we should ever recognize that people might actually earn their wealth!

Before we’re through here, let’s not forget the ever popular “less fortunate” phrase that is also a mainstay of leftist newspeak. If you don’t want to come right out and say that the high-achievers were given their wealth or that they merely received it, you could always just say that they were just lucky. This would mean that those who somehow, in spite of all the opportunities available to them, managed to stay poor were merely un-lucky. We’ll call them the “less fortunate.” Why, if wealth is all a matter of luck, what’s the problem with just evening out the odds by redistributing the winnings here and there?

There is, though, a purpose behind this language of the left: It is oh so much easier to promote grand schemes of wealth seizure and redistribution by the government if you first condition the public to the idea that this wealth wasn’t earned in the first place.

Tell that to Warren.