It’s nice to hear the rich and powerful tell the truth, at least once in a while. So many of them seem to adhere with religious fervor to Adam Smith’s “vile maxim,” i.e. “everything for me, nothing for you,” and don’t shy from twisting the truth to advance the cause of Numero Uno. So it was quite refreshing indeed to see back-to-back truthful revelations reported recently in the New York Times.
First, the nasty squabble between retiring Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and the president erupted both on Twitter and in an interview Corker gave to a Times reporter. The president treats his office like “a reality show,” he told the reporter, making bombastic and reckless threats (toward N. Korea, Iran) that risk launching the country “on the path to World War III.” Corker had already blasted Trump in a tit-for-tat Twitter exchange, calling the White House “an adult day care center,” in which “somebody obviously missed their shift this morning.” According to multiple news sources, a majority of Republican lawmakers agree with Corker, and think as bad if not worse of the Disruptor-in-Chief and the mess he’s making, but no one else (including the courageous senators from Arizona) is willing as yet to take a public stand questioning the president’s fitness for office.
Second, Marcus Ryu, a Silicon Valley CEO of a $5 billion software company, spilled the beans on the president’s proposed corporate tax cuts, a salient feature of Republican “tax reform,” in an October 9 Times opinion piece – Tax cuts will NOT spur economic growth. They never have, even when in times past companies were not already awash in cash, as they are today. Companies start up, and/or expand, when they see opportunity and market demand for their product, not because they have more coins jingling around in the piggy bank. As of late, flush companies have in fact used their excess cash to boost executive pay and bonuses, buy back their own stock (thereby pumping the value), and paying bigger dividends to shareholders. (Paul Krugman has been making this case for longer than I’m sure he’d care to admit, but, you know, he’s a “liberal,” so why listen to him?) Ryu points out that a number of highly admired entrepreneurs – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos among them – launched their blockbuster ventures when tax rates were much higher than they are today. He quotes guru-super-investor Warren Buffett – “I have yet to see,” says Buffett, anyone “shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”
Telling it like it is. Not always pleasant, but refreshing nonetheless. We could use a lot more of it.