Saturday, March 31, 2012

Warren Buffett - Interview and New York Times Article

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett Interview on Charlie Rose (August 16, 2011)

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
Published: August 14, 2011
From The New York Times Opinion Pages

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.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

More at:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Entrainment - Wind and Rain

Wind Swept Tree

Wind in the trees 1

Thunder, quiet rain, hail with binaural beat
(listen with stereo headphones)

Wind in the trees 2

The wind - windy night

Wind on the pond

Friday, March 16, 2012

Singer-Songwriter / Activist Mimi Farina

Mimi Farina

Richard and Mimi Farina

Richard and Mimi
Sisters Joan, Pauline, and Mimi

Mimi performing with her sister Joan Baez - Viva Mi Patria

1988 Interview

Mimi talks about The Bread & Roses organization

Mimi and Richard, with Pete Seeger perform Pack Up Your Sorrows

Richard and Mimi - A Swallow Song

More at:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jazz Vocalist Connie Evingson

Connie Evingson
Nature Boy

Round Midnight


Why Don't You Do Right

I've Grown Accustomed to His Face

More at:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Django Reinhardt and Gypsy Jazz

Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli - Minor Swing

David Reinhardt - Grooving High

Django Reinhardt - Paris Blues

Angelo Debarre - Entre Amis (Between Friends)

Django Reinhardt - All of Me

Tchavolo Schmitt - Sweet Sue, Just You

Boulou and Elios Ferre - Jamais Sans Mon Reve (Never Without My Dream)

Biel Ballester - When I Was A Boy

Les Doigts de l'Homme - Russian Melody

Connie Evingson - Until

Gypsy Mania - Bar Del Pie

Robin Nolan - Nuages (Clouds)

Romane - Gypsy Fire

Pearl Django - Under Paris Skies

The Rosenberg Trio - The Mountainflower

Fapy Lafertin and Lollo Meier - Django's Tiger

From the film Life After Django Reinhardt - Minor Swing

More at:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tiffany Education - A Stained Glass Window

"Education" (1890) 
A stained glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Glass Co.(late 1885-1892)
Linsly-Chittenden Hall at Yale University  

Click on image for larger view

Left: Art, attended by Form, Color and Imagination

Center: Science (personified by Devotion, Labor, Truth, Research and Intuition) and Religion (personified by Purity, Faith, Hope, Reverence and Inspiration) in harmony, presided over by the central personification of "Light·Love·Life".

Right: Music, with Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Verse, and Voice

Perception and Analysis (hidden behind the left pillars) link Art and Science
Two other angels bridge Religion and Music (hidden behind the right pillars)

More at:

Monday, March 5, 2012

American Suffragist and Activist Alice Paul

Alice Paul
* I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.

* When you put your hand to the plow, you can't put it down until you get to the end of the row.

Alice Paul in 1920 makes a toast to the Woman Suffrage Ratification Flag

Alice Paul being dragged by the police

From The Penn Biographies
Alice Paul 1885-1977

Alice Paul was born on January 11, 1885, in Moorestown, New Jersey, the daughter of William M. Paul, banker and businessman, and his wife, Tacie Perry. Alice, the eldest of four daughters in this Quaker family, was educated at Moorestown Friends School before earning her undergraduate education at Swarthmore College in 1905.

After working for a time on New York City's lower east side as a social work intern, assisting in the organization of women workers, Alice Paul did graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning her master's degree in sociology from Penn in 1907, Paul spent three years in England where she studied economics and sociology at the Universities of London and Birmingham. While in England she was active in the Women's Social and Political Union and was arrested and jailed repeatedly as a participant in the campaign for women's rights led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia. After returning to America, Paul wrote her 1912 doctoral dissertation on the legal position of women in Pennsylvania. She later earned law degrees from Washington College and American University.

Paul became an aggressive leader of the women's movement in the United States. She was appointed chair of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1912. In June 1916, Paul founded the National Woman's Party, its sole plank a resolution calling for immediate passage of the federal amendment guaranteeing the enfranchisement of women. These activities led to strong political opposition and, in 1917, even imprisonment of Alice Paul and other NWP women in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. When the women went on a hunger strike, they were force fed. Paul was subjected to psychiatric evaluation, but the examining psychiatrist pronounced her sane, describing her as willing to die for her cause and never giving up. After the women's situation was publicized, the public outcry and official outcome contributed to President Woodrow Wilson's 1918 announcement of support for the women's suffrage amendment. After the amendment was passed by Congress and then ratified by the states in 1920, Paul and other feminist leaders moved on to work for women's rights in other areas. In 1923, the National Woman's Party introduced an Equal Rights Amendment to Congress, authored by Alice Paul.

Her political activism never ceased. In 1938 Paul founded the World Woman's Party in Geneva, Switzerland. After World War II the World Woman's Party lobbied successfully for the inclusion of equality provisions in the United Nations charter. And in the 1960's Alice Paul linked women's rights to the black struggle for civil rights and worked hard for the ERA.

Paul died in Morrestown, New Jersey on July 9, 1977. A United States postage stamp honoring Alice Paul was issued on August 18, 1995.

More at:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saving Valentina

The Humpback Whale 'Valentina'

The Rescue Video

Michael Fishbach and his wife Heather Watrous
Receiving The Shinning Light Compassion Award

More at: