A most excellent screed from rich guy Stephen King as to why Ritchie Rich needs to pay more taxes. To all of those Ritchie Riches who are “tired of hearing about” how they should pay more in taxes, he says:
Tough $hit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their d!cks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.
King and his wife are locally famous and revered in Maine for their charitable contributions and their support for the local arts community. The Kings’ money actually funded a faculty position in History at the University of Maine that a grad school friend of mine has occupied for the past 15 years or so–a position that otherwise would not have been funded. So he created at least one job–but as for the notion that Ritchie Rich is out there creating jobs? Bullcrap, says King:
Here’s another crock of fresh bull$hit delivered by the right wing of the Republican Party (which has become, so far as I can see, the only wing of the Republican Party): the richer rich people get, the more jobs they create. Really? I have a total payroll of about 60 people, most of them working for the two radio stations I own in Bangor, Maine. If I hit the movie jackpot—as I have, from time to time—and own a piece of a film that grosses $200 million, what am I going to do with it? Buy another radio station? I don’t think so, since I’m losing my shirt on the ones I own already. But suppose I did, and hired on an additional dozen folks. Good for them. Whoopee-ding for the rest of the economy.
And as for all of the boo-hoo-hooing about Ritchie Rich’s little fee-fees, King points out that the rich are in no danger of being less revered in our culture anytime soon:
In America, the rich are hallowed. Even Warren Buffett, who has largely been drummed out of the club for his radical ideas about putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to patriotism, made the front pages when he announced that he had stage-1 prostate cancer. Stage 1, for God’s sake! A hundred clinics can fix him up, and he can put the bill on his American Express black card! But the press made it sound like the pope’s balls had just dropped off and shattered! Because it was cancer? No! Because it was Warren Buffett, he of Berkshire-Hathaway!
As for his fellow rich guy, Mitt Romney, King writes:
I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies. Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bull$hit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-f^(king-American is what it 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. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that—sorry, kiddies—you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay—not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor [Chris] Christie’s words, but to pay—in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.
Read the whole thing. It’s smart, funny, and moreover an excellent example of the effective use of invective. (Although I’m disappointed that he talked about lighter fluid and “Disco Inferno” instead of “hammer[ing] a million f^(king nails into my d!ck,” but I think it’s almost as effective.)
9 thoughts on “Horror master King sez “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!””
I totally own the nail-hammered flaming dicke meme.
King was born on the Aroostook frontier on exactly the same day, probably within hours, of when I was, far closer to the metaphorical heart of the American empire and the American Century–if the Borough of Queens counts for anything. So I can use him as a sort of perpetual measuring stick for mobility prospects with regard to both fame and fortune. Conclusion? My phone interview on the “Rambling with Gambling” show on WOR after a big research triumph was the closest I was ever going to get to “owning” a radio station. And when I took a (non)-scheduled hiatus from grad school to clerk in a law firm for a while to earn a few bucks I should have written up the horror story of that big civil trial up in Anthraxtonia, PA over a busted radio station sale deal instead of going back to finish up the diss. and hope for a movie deal. The article in the NYT today about Paul Ryan and his literally enthralled little band of acolytes in the House gym makes it clear how directly many of this generation of politicians are working for the plutocrats. Either the whole sordid scheme will topple soon or we’ll live to see the day when donors to the mega-PACs send their footmen to Congress in livery. The latter might be almost amusing enough to tolerate. Cut a check, indeed!
Cool story about the endowed chair in Orono, though; I didn’t know that last detail about it. It’s well-filled, I will say.
King was my commencement speaker, just over a decade ago, and after asking us just exactly what we were thinking for inviting him, he challenged our class to double a donation to a local (local to the college) charity that he made in our name and to remember that with much privilege comes much responsibility. He ruffled some feathers that morning, which I think means he did well.
It’s so odd: I generally hate Stephen King’s writing style in his books. I could hardly get through them, when I used to go to the beach and could consider packing a beach read. I don’t care for either his prose style or his literary conceits.
And yet I am deeply impressed by his screed about taxation and rich guys, in form and content. That bit about Warren Buffet’s cancer in the news outshines everything else that King has ever written, for my money.
Sadly, King’s outpouring will make absolutely no difference. Mitt and Barack will continue to buy the gate to the presidency helped by the super rich who get the best deal ever.
It’s getting close to using drones to rescue our country.
Koshary: I agree. I don’t read his books, nor have I ever seen one of his movies. He published a decent couple of stories in the New Yorker in the last decade, which I read. But, yeah: excellent invective, which could only be credibly delivered by another rich, older guy (esp. the prostate cancer/balls falling off the pope bit. At least I would hesitate to make those points in precisely the same fashion.)
Indyanna: King’s diagnosis of the groupies of the megarich (Ryan, McConnell, and their ilk) was excellent, I thought, but I was already almost in danger of a plagiarism accusation in reproducing even these choice bits here on my blog!
This is the best thing Stephen King ever wrote.
King fan here. He works really hard on his writing: call it flop sweat if you want, but the ethic impresses me. Think of how many elderly readers of his, Hollywood dudes, and fellow rich people he risked offending with this piece. People who agree with what he wrote aren’t in a position to enrich him.
Will it change the world? Probably not, but we have another articulate spokesman to mention every time someone says taxation is too hard on the fee-fees of rich men, or too burdensome to pay.
I’m going to be giggling about the pope’s balls all morning. It makes me think that some day I’ll need to tell my students about the pre-modern ritual checking of the pope’s balls (to make sure he has some, and is not secretly a woman).