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Cameron Sinclair

Cameron Sinclair

Posted March 17, 2009 | 02:34 PM (EST)

Dear Obama, Enact a 'Greed to Need' Tax This April.


Ok, now we are getting carried away. I checked twitter this morning to see a page full of cheeky agreement to Sen. Grassley's comments that AIG executives should 'resign or commit suicide'. Naturally there was a quick followup by Glassley's staff to assure us that he was just kidding, sort of. You can chalk that under 'politicians say the darnest things in front of a public mic' but the teeth gnashing has to stop and a pragmatic solution put forth.

A few months ago, when the first round of bonuses emerged, I had suggested casually that we need to enact a 'Greed to Need' tax. Given this round of $400M payoffs let's do something about it.

We have until April 15th to file our taxes, including all those folks raking in those huge bonuses. So, President Obama, why don't we put in a clause that says any bonus that is above 25% of your annual salary will trigger a 95% tax rate. With one exception -- if you donate 75% of your bonus to a US based charity then you can keep the rest at the regular tax rate. For example:

a. You make $100,000 and receive $20,000 bonus then you are fine.
b. You make $1,000,000 and receive $2,000,000 bonus then you are taxed 95% on the bonus.
c. You make $1,000,000 and receive $2,000,000 bonus then donate at least $1.75M to charity then you can keep $250,000 bonus.

With non-profits shutting their doors, while 'hooverville' tent cities are appearing across this nation it only takes a Fredrick Gates-like figure to convince the new Rockefellers to be the new, new philanthrocapitalists. The 10's of millions (possibly 100's of millions) could go toward re-adapting and greening foreclosed homes [by Habitat for Humanity/Architecture for Humanty], creating job training centers for returning vets [by Veterans Green Jobs]; re-imagining our inner-city environments [by Sustainable South Bronx]; or hundreds of other organizations in this country.

My suggestion is that the next time a politician starts ranting about what should be done, try to make it pragmatic and helpful to the thousands of citizens who are the victims of this crisis.