Fairer Taxes in Russia Than America?

How the "fiscal cliff" deal will punish job producers.

Isn’t it the 1 percent of America who is creating jobs and stirring the American economy more than anyone else? So how can it be that just because someone succeeds and makes it by earning more than $400,000 they should be demonized – or penalized for succeeding as the new tax laws delineate.

Growing up in the Bronx in the 1980s, I could have never imagined reading as I did today that Russia has a flat 13-percent tax rate. Could one imagine? The successful in Russia are treated better than the 1 percent that the Obama administration and so many others in America today view as evil.

I grew up in the Bronx in a single-parent household, and attended (bad) New York City public schools. I traveled an hour and a half a day each way to attend the elite public Stuyvesant High School, leaving home at 6:30 every morning and returning often after 7 o’clock, following basketball games and practice. I was a “latch-key kid” because my mother had to work so my sister and I could eat and live. And I started working in a local pizzeria from the age of 12, often 50 hours a week.

We didn’t have money, and it was a struggle: I am a first-generation American, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, who grew up with few relatives or family because my family was wiped out in Europe. My mother always pushed me to make the most of myself, raising me to never take anything from anyone and to work hard.

Growing up, I always swore my children would never want for money, as I did. Today, not yet 40 years of age ten years after opening my PR agency, I am blessed to employ more than 100 people. I worked damn hard to get here - drive, ambition, sacrifice and working long hours is what made my dream come true. I don’t owe a dime to anyone. And now I am being punished for succeeding?

And I am damn angry that I am now going to have to pay more taxes – the highest tax rate since 1979 – because of the ridiculous new fiscal cliff laws. I am not to blame for succeeding and should not be penalized for it.

My office lease for 5WPR runs out this summer in our uber-luxury building, where George Soros, Vornado Realty and other companies also have their headquarters. We have grown too large for this office space, and I now need to rent an office in midtown Manhattan for 35,000 square feet - an expensive proposition. But my taxes are going way up, thanks to the new laws. Is that good for business? What if it’s not? What would happen if I decided to sell or close up shop? What good would that do for my 100+ employees?

Owning a business is often a scary proposition – even today it has been less than 15 years since I was broke and working in a pizzeria. But I succeeded, and will continue succeeding, and creating jobs. My children have a better life and more opportunities than I did, and I will continue building for future generations of my family.

But it’s not my obligation to pay for anyone else’s family. That is surely not the greatness of what America is about.  And it should make every American shudder to realize that Russia has a much better tax program than America. Who’s leading whom?

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