Too strong to call him scum?

…By taking direct ownership of the shares, Lampert would be taxed at the capital-gains rate of 15 percent when the stock is sold, rather than the ordinary income rate of 39.6 percent that his fund would have to pay…

According to this Bloomberg story, Mr Lampert is worth $3 billion. If he earns just 1% per year on that fortune—and he certainly earns much more—then he takes home $30 million in income. Per year. That’s 600 times the median household income in America. It’s more money than a person can reasonably spend. With that much money you can binge every day, and yet the money will just keep accumulating.

And yet Mr Lampert feels he needs to take special steps to avoid paying the regular income tax rate for individuals in the highest tax bracket, which begins at around $373,000 (the 15% bracket, by the way, begins at $8,375 for an individual). Obviously, most of the people bringing home that level of income are generating it in wages and salary, and they have no choice but to pay the income tax rate. I’m sure if you approached Mr Lampert and told him he didn’t work for his money, he’d bristle at the suggestion. And yet he wants to continue to take advantage of the silly rule by which the money hedge fund managers make from doing their job is taxed as capital gains rather than income.

As far as I can tell, this is entirely within the law. But I don’t think it’s improper to declare it obscene. Shameful, even. With a fortune of that size, additional wealth is about little more than score-keeping. You can afford to be a grown-up and pay the same taxes as everyone else.

That is Ryan Avent of the Economist reporting on Edward Lampert. I couldn’t really agree more.

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