Last November, Steve Ballmer, the 33rd wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $33 billion, sold off $2 billion in stock to “diversify his holdings and to help with tax planning.” So much for job creation. This month Paul Allen, with $14 billion in wealth, bought a refurbished Russian MIG fighter jet. And Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, whose net worth is $12.3 billion, refuses, in any state where he can get away with it, to collect sales taxes on Amazon sales, further starving state governments from revenue for middle class services (and giving him a big advantage over bookstores on Main Street!).
What do these guys have in common? They are among the wealthiest people in the world, and they want their wealth only for themselves. So they all pitched in with six figure contributions to defeat Initiative 1098 last year, which would have taxed their income above $400,000. Not a lot, but why give up anything when you are at the pinnacle?
Here’s why: That 1098 money would have funded Basic Health, which is about to run out of money. What would Paul Allen, Steve Balmer and Jeff Bezos say to the woman who just wrote me about her situation?
“This can truly be a life or death issue for some of us. I was diagnosed with a very early-stage melanoma just two weeks ago, and now need to be seen by the dermatologist every couple of months, and also have other medical issues. My husband has had abnormal PSA tests in the past that we need to monitor.
“We feel very lucky to be on Basic Health. I don’t know what will happen to us if it ends…”
Mr. Allen, Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Bezos: We can’t make you fund public services. But your hearts might lead you there. Why don’t you simply give $100 million for Basic Health? That’s about seventeen one-hundredths of your combined wealth — small change for the health of the citizens of our state. You are not broke. And we don’t need to be.
(Excerpted with permission of the author from Money needed to rescue Basic Health is out there)