It's time to invoke the Buffett Rule. That's Jimmy's, not Warren's. Let us explain why.
The Buffett Rule, as put forward by President Obama, was an attempt to raise the minimum tax paid by a person earning more than a million dollars a year to a minimum of 30 percent. The president developed the rule in response to billionaire investor Warren Buffett commenting in writing and interviews that he thought wealthy folks like him should be willing and required to pay more taxes. Three national polls released this year showed that anywhere from 52 to about 70 percent of Americans support the rule.
Last week, the Senate voted on the rule and it received a majority of the votes cast 51-45. But, it did not pass because a vote of 60 was required due to a Republican filibuster. The filibuster rule trumped the Buffett Rule and the people lost once again.
So, it's out with the old Buffett Rule that is Warren-based. And, in with the new Buffett Rule, that is Jimmy-based.
The new rule goes like this: Amplify! Unify! Signify! Amplify -- be the best you can be. Unify -- bring people together. Signify -- call attention to issues and areas that matter.
This rule was not written by Jimmy Buffett but derived from his actions. Most of us know Jimmy Buffett as the highly successful, laid-back singer, songwriter from Key West who performs his island style music and hit recordings in his concerts in bare feet, dressed in shorts and a tee-shirt. As with many Americans, when you peel back that façade, there is a lot more there than meets the eye.
Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes helped us see how multifaceted Jimmy Buffett is in a special in 2006. Kroft's feature revealed that Buffett is not only an entertainer; he's also an entrepreneur, job creator, author and avid pilot. Buffett owns pieces of two restaurant chains, has produced records and TV shows, is involved in numerous business ventures, and recently opened a casino in Las Vegas. Buffett definitely amplifies and lives life to its fullest.
Buffett also unifies. His fan base is diverse and cuts across age, ethnic and socio-economic lines. Known as the Parrot Heads because of the garb they wear to his concerts, Buffett's fans are among the most loyal and fun-loving around. They are members of what is called the "Parrot Head Nation" and while they may not rival the Tea Party in political influence or scope, they know how to party and enjoy themselves.
The Parrot Heads also know how to bring joy to others and are a movement in their own right. There are over 200 Parrot Head clubs around the U.S. According to the Parrot Heads in Paradise website, over the past ten years, these clubs have donated more than $26 million and almost 3 million volunteer hours to various local and national charities.
Jimmy Buffett doesn't officially sanction the activities of the Parrot Head clubs but he does signify upon issues and bring resources to bear on things to matter to him. For example, in November 2004 he sponsored a "Surviving the Storm" Hurricane Relief concert in Orlando, Fla., to benefit the victims of the four hurricanes that hit Florida, Alabama and the Caribbean that year. In July 2010, he put on a free concert on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., to draw people and tourists back to the Gulf after the BP Oil Disaster. Buffett is also involved in a wide variety of other charitable causes such as children and family, environmental, and disenfranchised groups.
That brings us full circle and back to Warren Buffett. Warren is widely recognized and respected as a business person and a philanthropist.
Just as with Jimmy, however, there is a side of Warren that is relatively unknown and that is he is a musician. Warren plays the ukulele in his spare time. He plays it well enough that he strummed and sang "Red River Valley" with the Quebe Sisters Band at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in 2007 and has also shared the stage with his son Peter, a professional musician.
Jimmy Buffett and Warren Buffett are two of America's "native sons" who lead by example and from whom we can learn much. Specifically, we can learn the new Buffett Rule: Amplify! Unify! Signify!
We don't expect a combative and confrontational Congress to vote for it. But, we, as concerned and collaborative citizens, can definitely live by it.