The Hedge Fund Class
Ben Stein's column in the New York Times today should be required reading for every legislator on Capitol Hill. And I mean that literally. They should be tied to their desks and forced to read it.
Stein gives a brilliant dissection of a phenomenon that can only be described as evil: the rise of a class of super-rich hedge fund and private equity managers who are, almost invariably, taxed at a rate far below the rest of us.
Is it right or even admissible in the human conscience that while teachers, emergency room technicians, police and firefighters are taxed at full earned-income rates — and often underpaid — that the highest-earning people in this country should pay at either very low tax rates or none at all?
Or, put it like this: do we dare send our men and women to fight for an America in which the very rich are so favored by the government that it amounts almost to an aristocracy?
"Congress," Stein says, "can take notice of a mammoth inequity in taxation during wartime and make the tax on private equity and hedge funds approximate the treatment of other highly paid people — or it can continue down the road to the Bastille."
This essay will, of course, be greeted by the usual cries of horror from the hedge fund industry. Tough. Time to make the tax code more fair to the rest of America and end this super-class of the super-rich.
© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.