The American people woke up just the other day to find that their household wealth has been completely redistributed. That’s because it was the day on which the so-called Buffett Redistribution Rule took effect. The rule, named in honor of Warren Buffett, an Omaha investor and one of the richest people in the world, is contained in an executive order proclaimed last month by President Obama.
The President had previously tried to get Congress to pass legislation that would put the rule into effect, but the attempt was blocked by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. In announcing the executive order, Obama said: “Since Congress won’t do what I say, I am illegally usurping their power. Congress is soooo yesterday.”
Under the Buffett Redistribution Rule, people with net worths greater than $175,000 must contribute any amount above that figure to a redistribution pool. The money from the pool will then be redistributed to people with net worths less than $175,000, so that everyone in the United States winds up with exactly $175,000. The $175,000 figure is based on estimates — which officials admit are shaky — of the total net worth of households in the United States. That figure is pegged at $54 trillion.
There had been legal challenges to the executive order by members of the Republican party, but those were disposed of in the wee hours of this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court. The five liberals on the court, Justices Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayer and Kagan, agreed that the redistribution rule is the equivalent of a tax, and that any tax imposed on the American people is “cool with us”. They swept aside the opposing argument, advanced by the four conservatives on the court, Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas, that while the rule might indeed be a tax, the president of the United States does not have taxing authority. “The Constitution is soooo yesterday,” Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion.
After reading his opinion aloud in the courtroom, Roberts was invited to three cocktail parties sponsored by members of the media and the entertainment industry. He seemed quite pleased by the invitations, and was seen talking earnestly with actress Cameron Diaz.
Strangely, Warren Buffett, the namesake of the redistribution rule, seemed displeased with it. He pointed out that he will have to surrender 99.9995 percent of his $35 billion in assets. “That’s a pretty big hit,” he said, struggling to control his temper.
A reporter pointed out to Buffett that he may have brought this on himself, because of his frequent statements that rich people should pay a larger share of their incomes in taxes.
“That’s taxes, you dummy, not assets,” Buffett shot back. “I didn’t mind paying a few extra thousand dollars a year in taxes. That was just a public relations ploy, to divert attention from the fact that I was obscenely rich. That amount means nothing to someone with my wealth — my former wealth, I mean. This new rule is confiscatory, and I renounce it, despite the honor President Obama paid me by naming it after me.”
At the other end of the financial spectrum, the rule was applauded by members of Occupy Wall Street, who took showers and put on clean clothing to make their presence tolerable at a press conference. Each of the OWS members previously had no money at all, and now they all have $175,000. “I don’t think this money is going to last long,” one OWSer joked. “My dealer is already climbing all over me, offering me volume discounts on the finest cocaine and pot.”
A reporter asked the OWSer whether it might not be wise to invest the money, to help ensure that he never again becomes penniless.
“No need,” he replied. “A year from now, the government will survey everyone in the country, determine their net worths, and then bring them back up — or down — to the $175,000 level. It’s part of the new, er, law. If I increase my stake, I will have to surrender the entire gain. There’s no point in enterprise anymore.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney released a statement in which President Obama expressed himself “delighted” with the implementation of his policy. Pressed by a Fox News reporter, Carney acknowledged that the executive order exempts anyone living in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington from having any wealth confiscated. Carney insisted that the exemption is “even-handed,” because it includes not only the White House, but also the homes directly across the street.
The president also said that he was considering joining with other world leaders, through the United Nations, to extend the redistribution rule to the entire world. The average net worth of everyone in the world is only about $35,000, which means that Americans who are suddenly worth $175,000 today might have to surrender $140,000 of that to accommodate the needs of poor people elsewhere in the world.
One of the newly enriched OWSers was asked about this possibility. “No bleeping way am I gonna give my money to those gooks!” he said. “They’ll have to pry the money from my cold, dead hands!”