by Judy Patrick, CEO & President, Women’s Foundation of California
I recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in which I called upon us to challenge the notion, rooted so deep in this fiercely individual culture, that we are not each others’ keepers. I asked you to believe, and act as if, we have a responsibility for one another and to work together to leave a healthy state for our children and our neighbors’ children. It was a plea for shared generosity and shared sacrifice.
So it was heartening to see Warren Buffett’s recent op-ed in the New York Times: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich. You see, Warren Buffet and I are both from Nebraska and I always believe that somehow when one is from a state with only 1.5 million people, one should somehow have a link to everyone. And I feel connected to Mr. Buffett. Far more important than any perceived connection to him, is his radical message to ask the most wealthy Americans to share the burden of our current economic crisis. He makes a very strong case for how the incomes of the super-rich have increased dramatically while their tax burden has declined.
His column is a reminder that all wealthy people do not feel the need to make lots of money at the expense of everyone else. As we’ve written elsewhere, the growing wealth gap — just in California alone — is appalling. In the last 20 years, as the incomes of 80 percent of Californians declined, the incomes of the wealthiest 10 percent increased 43 percent. Meanwhile, the poverty rate grows in California.
I hope that more of California’s wealthy will answer my call and Mr. Buffett’s call to speak out on behalf of tax reforms/increases that will result in greater opportunities for all Californians (and Americans) to thrive.