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Rich in News

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Despite all the religious proscriptions against coveting thy neighbor’s belongings and the life-snuffing force we popularly know as envy, it’s hard to shake the belief that the rich get away with murder, or at least have tons more fun than you or I.

But while the debate rages over whether most wealth is created by sheer iron will and around-the-clock work (ask the Republicans) or if it’s simply a transfer of funds across generations (ask your local Democrat), it has to be admitted that the luckiest among us were born into a First World country. Truly, life on a worldwide scale is a lottery. It’s here that we live in an abundance of wealth, with more than enough free time to read and complain about reports of white-collar computer-programming jobs being shipped overseas. Just who do we think we are when we argue that Third World workers don’t deserve a piece of the pie? Protectionism is the most visible hand of all. Or, as Winston Churchill once said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the unequal sharing of miseries.” Right he was. But misery’s even more miserable when it’s not shared.

& ull; And You’re Surprised? Once again but recently, the Utah State Tax Commission told us what we already know: no one beats Utah for onerous personal tax burden. Not even California. But hey, at least the 7.6 take of your personal income during 2002-’03 isn’t as high as it was three years ago at 8.3 percent. Progress ain’t cheap.

& ull; Another one bites the dust: Kudos to Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Hunstman Jr. for taking a stand against Utah’s regressive sales tax on food. Not just restaurant food, mind you, but grocery food which, even before a roof over your head, is the very stuff of survival. At this rate, the taxing authorities might feel prompted to tell us how lucky we are that they don’t tax the air. (And if another winter inversion hits us soon, don’t be too surprised if that happens.) As noble as Huntsman’s platform position is, you can’t help but get the sinking feeling that, like many who took a stand before him, he’s doomed from the start. The political pile is heaped with people who thought the same about Utah’s tax on food. Best of luck to him.

& ull; The rich as you’ve never read about them before: Over 338 pages, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Cay Johnson chronicles how America’s rich avoid “paying their fair share.” In Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everyone Else, you too can learn how millionaires whittle down their tax rates through deferred compensation or choosing the right overseas business address. Johnson’s book will set you back $25.95, so you’re better off using your tax-funded local library. Our state’s personal tax burden says you deserve it that way.

& ull; Something for Nothing? As reported recently by The Associated Press, Tyco executives were awfully nice to give the company receptionist enough money for her daughter’s college tuition, especially if she knew who was meeting with whom before ex-Tyco chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski was caught allegedly taking money from the company. And $25,000 for a Rite-Aid secretary from former company executive Franklin C. Brown is a standard company bonus, if you allegedly assisted in the production of dubious stock share documents.

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