BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – President Obama and fellow progressives think it’s time to raise taxes on the uber-rich, but I don’t think that goes far enough. I favor author P.J. O’Rourke’s position on what to do with all the financial fat cats out there: Eat them.
“Eat The Rich” was the title of O’Rourke’s seminal treatise on economics but he confesses in the book’s introduction that he stole the phrase from someone else, he just wasn’t sure who he stole it from. That’s because the idea of eating rich people has been around for a long time and the phrase “eat the rich” pops up in books, songs and even movies. O’Rourke says he thinks he stole the phrase from the 1993 Aerosmith song “Eat the Rich.”
But the group Motorhead had a song of the same name ten years earlier. The songs are completely different. The Aerosmith version seems to be about a guy who’s ticked off at a rich friend of his. The chorus goes:
“Eat the Rich: there’s only one thing they’re good for
Eat the Rich: take one bite now – come back for more
Eat the Rich: I gotta get this off my chest
Eat the Rich: take one bite now, spit out the rest!”
The chorus of the Motorhead version is:
“Come on baby, eat the rich,
Put the bite on the son of a b-tch,
Don’t mess up, don’t you give me no switch…
C’mon baby and eat the rich,
C’mon baby and eat the rich!”
Both songs are lewd, mostly incomprehensible and, if I may say at the risk of being too cute, are in poor taste.
The 1988 movie “Eat The Rich” is even in poorer taste and is actually about a disgruntled waiter who serves dead rich people to unknowing restaurant patrons, kind of like what Johnny Depp did in the movie “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”. The “Eat The Rich” movie was a box office flop, probably because it was too literal.
P.J. O’Rourke in his book doesn’t really condone eating the rich; the title seems to be more along the hyperbole line. O’Rourke sets out answer the question: Why do some places – like Sweden and Hong Kong – prosper and thrive while others – like Cuba and Albania – just suck?
But O’Rourke’s book came out 13 years ago and maybe it’s time to actually consider eating rich folks as a way to save the economy. Some super rich people like investor Warren Buffett actually look pretty tasty. He’s kind of pudgy and tender-looking and his last name is eerily close to that form of dining known as a “buffet.”
Buffett has become a big pal of President Obama because Buffett thinks rich people like him don’t pay enough taxes. He talks about how, on a percentage basis, his secretary pays more taxes than he does. He now drags the poor woman into every conversation about the horrible national economy – the strange point being that the unfortunate lady lives a life of hell working under him. If her life is so bad, why doesn’t he pay her more money? He’s one of the richest people on the planet. He could give her a couple of million and the use of his accountant and her problems would be solved. I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffett’s disgruntled secretary hasn’t fantasized while in line at the company cafeteria buffet about what a tasty meal he’d make, the tight-wad.
But Buffett is one of the “good” rich people. I read he will raise money for Obama’s re-election effort at a $35,800-a-ticket fundraiser next month in Chicago. Why? Why squeeze money out of people who likely can’t afford a $35,800 buffet when Buffett could pony up the entire amount out of his mad money jar?
The fact is that when politicians aren’t soaking the rich for campaign donations they are vilifying them. Isn’t soaking the rich and vilifying the rich just a short philosophical step away from eating the rich? Obama’s main campaign strategy is to convince “poor folks” that “rich folks” are the cause of all their problems. Some people say he’s encouraging “class warfare,” but I think he truly believes that “rich folks” are getting a free ride in this country and the only way to save the economy is to take as much money from “rich folks” as possible, both in campaign donations and through raising taxes.
The problem is that there aren’t that many really rich people out there. According to Forbes there are only about 400 billionaires in the United States. And, according to recent study by the Associated Press, the wealthiest Americans – ten percent of the population – already pay 70 percent of all federal taxes. If you raise taxes on the really rich to the level many politicians want – that level being close to 100 percent – then they won’t be rich anymore. So what good would they be, I mean, other than as delicious entrées?