In response to the last post, I began to wonder about what happens when people defy their negative stereotypes? In the case of the West Memphis Three, a town decided that three men were guilty, wrongly accusing them based on shaky evidence and in essence, letting the real killers go free. But, this week I read an open letter to the American people by Warren Buffet in the New York Times which made me feel cautiously hopeful towards a group I normally view with a negative bias. That group is the self-proclaimed “mega-rich.” In the article Buffet, who is purportedly the second richest American, advocates that the U.S. government “stop coddling the rich” with low taxes and tax breaks.
Effectively, he breaks down some of the myths that are circulating around our nation–that if the rich pay higher taxes they will stop investing and stop creating jobs. Using historical context as his proof, he argues that even when taxes on his income bracket have been much higher in the past, economic growth still progressed. In fact, things were better economically. His argument is logical and passionate and espouses a view that we owe it to each other to pay our fair share to support our own community. He even asserts that his rich friends are decent, civic-minded individuals who want to pull their own weight.
See, here comes my biased judgment. The mega-rich are altruistic? The mega-rich aren’t just asking for more and more special considerations? Is it possible that even the richest Americans have had enough of the imbalance we’ve created in our country? I always assumed that it was these rich folks who were at the helm, directing our government puppets to help themselves get richer. Hmmm…
I came away with a few questions from this article. Who is Warren Buffet and is he accurate in his assessment of his own group? What does it mean that even the mega-rich are feeling like enough is enough? What exactly is the purpose of lowering taxes on the wealthiest Americans and who is it serving exactly? Was I wrong about a billionaire? Or is Buffet just a noble individual amongst a greedy majority? Often in Gladwell’s book I feel like snap-judgments are something that are enacted “on” someone else. Where is the agency of the individual to defy the social role they’ve been handed?
My question to you is, when you are being thin-sliced (which happens to all of us), what do you do about it? How do you prove them wrong? Can you? What do you have to say about Buffet’s letter in such a context?