king-thumb.jpgStephen King is anything but my favorite horror writer – and after all, he can afford to ignore my snark. Literally. And that’s precisely the point. But in that regard, he just substantially redeemed himself in my eyes – with a scathing and passionately profane article in The Daily Beast on just what he thinks the taxation policy towards his c.$400 million celebrity net worth ought to be.

Just as a reminder, the context was a radio address by Paul R. LePage (R.), Governor of King’s home state of Maine, claiming that the celebrated author had moved out of state because of high local income taxes. LePage erred just ever so little in demonstrating his fitness for elected office by showing that he didn’t even know where one of his own state’s most famous residents actually resides. Apparently, he’s not been in a huge hurry to apologize for this oversight either. Still, King saved him the bother, by not only saying exactly what he thinks of the Governor, but also launching a broadside against his – and by extension, all right-wing plutocrat-friendly – tax policy. First in line, admittedly, was LePage’s fellow Republican governor Chris Christie, but King didn’t tarry there long.

“Some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions,” King noted. “My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.”

King’s point is that private donation from rich individuals – including himself – just isn’t enough to fuel the public purse with what it needs. And unlike many of his rich peers, he’s not afraid to shoulder the implications. “Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny … That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.” And his message to his fellow High-Net-Worthers is: “I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share.”

And unlike his fellow rich who did not make their money by the sweat of their pens, King is equipped to do something that plutocrats can’t do: He can send a message. And the message he sends is that fair taxation is “a practical necessity and a moral imperative. Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head. Think about it.”

I won’t hold my breath waiting for James Patterson and his ilk to say “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!” like King. But they had better remember that Wall Street is not far from their Manhattan publishing fleshpots, and if they don’t heed King’s warning, both could burn together.




  1. Personally, I’d rather have the rich donate to truly worth causes instead of having the money tossed into the bottomless pit that is Federal Government where it will be dissipated and wasted and what money is given will be tied to so many legal strings it will be a noose.

  2. “the sweat of their pens,” what an image! You do realize that many rich people have acquired their wealth through skills more vigorous than writing? Weak tea indeed. Bravo to Steven King for his humble brag about his $4 million a year contributions to services HE values. Global warming doesn’t seem to be one of them. Let him shoulder the implications. You have to pay for global warming. He says so.

  3. I’ve given up reading King’s fiction, but I mostly agree with him that the rich are taxed too lightly. However, I don’t see how more taxation is going to help the country when the zeitgeist of the United States is (in a nutshell 30 words or less) making profit for businesses and where it is ok for the corporate high muck-a-mucks to make millions in bonuses while the man in the street struggles to make ends meet.

    But where does change begin? Could rising taxes help? To be honest, it can’t hurt.

  4. “Some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions,” King noted.
    I think it works contrary to this. Charitable contributions beget tax savings…meaning that rich people like Steven King would rather their money go where they want it rather than where the government wants it. Maybe he should renounce his charitable tax deductions and pay his fair share. (Whatever THAT means).

  5. Marilyn, if the super rich were in general donating to causes like the elimination of malaria and ensuring that clean water is available everywhere instead of building tax subsidized art museums and buildings named after themselves or their relatives at their favorite institutions of higher learning, I would agree with you. Just because they’re donating to charities, doesn’t mean the super rich are spending it any more wisely than our Congress does.

  6. I read this and was sure it was written in 2011 when it seemed like the Occupy Movement could maybe lead somewhere, but then I checked the date. I’m surprised but happy to read that you still see it as has having possible momentum and consequences. I have little faith that Wall Street would “burn” anytime soon.

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