The Nonprofiteer’s readers might enjoy this account of a pissing match between Warren Buffett and Mitch McConnell. The Senator from Kentucky has been urging the Sage of Omaha to make voluntary contributions to the Treasury if he felt he was undertaxed. Buffett has now responded that he’ll match any such contributions made by Republican Senators.
This dialogue makes in a different form Milton Friedman’s point as recounted by the Nonprofiteer yesterday. Voluntary contributions to reduce poverty (or do any of the other things we rely on the government to do) are insufficient, because everyone would be willing to pay his/her share only if s/he could be sure that everyone else would be willing to pay his/her share. Otherwise, no dice.
Doubtless McConnell will ignore Buffett’s challenge and continue his nonsensical bluster about Buffett’s freedom to pay extra if he feels “guilty” about his low tax rate. But the point isn’t, of course, how Buffett feels, or even what he does—it’s what everyone else does. And if McConnell and his buddies don’t donate to the Treasury, then they are poster children for the free-rider problem—thereby proving Buffett right: philanthropy is not sufficient and taxation is necessary.
H/T the indispensable Rick Cohen at The Nonprofit Quarterly.