I've had some interesting responses to my ideas about de-billionairizing the USA, about aggressively ending dynasties in the US using massive taxes on inheritances. I've been called insane, threatened with death if my plan takes money away from one reader.
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Reply to Rob Kall: Dynastys exist in America
and have since the country was founded. That is a natural progression. Kennedy. Bush. Rothschild. Rockefeller. Walton - a very recent dynasty. The list can go on and on - and of course will include lesser monied people as well. Dynasties do exist in America - from small town dynasties to big city dynasties to nationwide and world wide dynasties. That is a fact of life. You are not going to change that.
You do seem to hate the rich, especially the heirs of the rich. Some people were just fortunate or lucky enough to be born into money and do not have to do anything to "earn" that money today. Right or wrong - that is the way it is the world over. You are not going to change it.
It is good to be willing to fight for what you believe in - but what you believe in must also be realistic. Making billionaires illegal and taxing the hell out of millionaires is not a realistic goal. They will simply leave the country and take everything with them. The economy would collapse. There are many countries around the world that will welcome them because of their ability to create jobs.
Just as an example, I was welcomed into both Thailand and China because of my ability to create jobs. I settled on China because, in part, the government is more stable than that of Thailand. I am not, nor was I "super rich." I consider myself comfortable. The point is, that if I, with a relatively small amount of money can be welcomed into other countries based on the premise that I can create jobs and add to the economy, think of the opportunities that will be available to those who are even richer. When I left the States, many people lost their jobs. When millionaires and billionaires leave the States, many, many more people will lose their jobs and nothing will be there to replace those jobs.
In short, you dreams of outlawing billionaires will never see the light of day. Essentially, that is un-American. The social justice that you so passionately fight for and write about is ultimately not much more than a dream that will not be achieved in your lifetime, nor anyone else's. The world is evolving to one of "every man for himself" and until world attitudes change, nothing else will change.
I started to reply as a comment and decided it was worth making into an article. So here goes.
Good points, but not insurmountable. I do not hate the rich. I see ultra wealth as dangerous. As Byron said, Power corrupts and absolute... well, you know the drill. There are laws in many countries that foreigners cannot own property. And there are laws that people can't take money out of the country. Even now, in the US, people can't take more than $10,000 in cash. Laws could be established here that limit amounts of money or assets removed (actually, the idea of requiring that for every dollar taken out for an investment in another country, a dollar or two dollars must be invested in the US..) And if there were laws that captured money as it was earned, with taxes, or within the US investments, that would stop the money from leaving. I also believe that the same opportunities to make money do not exist in many places outside the US-- maybe none.
Imploding a building-- You can take down
the largest edifices-- billionaires too.
You say, "Right or wrong - that is the way it is the world over. You are not going to change it." That is the mentality of a victim. I am an activist and my goal is to take action and educate and engage victims willing to wake up and become activists to free themselves from oppressive systems-- and dynasties are parts of the economic and cultural systems currently oppressing humanity. When you look at the starvation, the lost opportunities to educate promising children, the ecological destruction produced by megacorporations (I also want to get rid of them) and their dynastic owners, it is an obscene abomination, a monstrous mutation of humanity at work.
There are endless ways to make things work that you say are impossible. I'm a big believer in making the impossible happen. That's what inventors and innovators have always faced and always done-- made what others said was impossible possible. As Ghandi is purported to have said, " First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win."
I agree that there are dynasties in the US. I don't think there should be and I think they are bad for America. They may be consistent with top down histories, but certainly not with the history of the US as Zinn wrote it in People's History of the United States. If the United States is still an organic, living, democratic entity, then its evolution should be away from hierarchy and concentrated power like dynasties produce. There is no natural reason why the children of the wealthy should be wealthy. It wasn't that way for the first million years of human and pre-human history. And it is not something that will lead to evolution of better humans. That's for sure.
Rather, dynasties can lead to inbred stupid, lazy, greedy, sociopaths. I've met my share of next generation wealthy-- people worth $10 million or $200 million. Some are good people, most well educated. But few are innovators. They enjoy the free car keys for the rich ride they are given. Some give back to their communities, often religious orgs. But they all use the money to buy luxuries, luxury travel, etc. that are just not necessary to be a happy, thriving, contributing human. I've literally flown in private jets because of my interactions with the very wealthy. It was cool, but I could have lived without it and so could they. Better to feed hungry children and educate every kid who wants to go to college.
I don't believe anyone should be so rich they can afford to pay $100 million for a painting, or a yacht, or ten or fifty million for a home. I also believe that consumption culture we now have is relatively new-- literally created in the 1920s We don't have to stay with the idea that it is better to consume and continually increase production. That is non-sustainable and part of the billionaire fantasy people who will never be rich engage in, when they support billionaires.
Let's talk about the impossible. There's a great book, by Paul Loeb The Impossible Will Take a Little While
that every activist should read, especially ones who are losing hope. There are countless examples of people who have been told that something can't be done-- and it hasn't stopped them from doing it, and succeeding.
If you went back in time 100 years ago and told people that blacks and women would be running billion dollar companies, or the US, they would have said you were out of your mind. If you told people that they wouldn't be able to smoke cigarettes in a saloon, they would have laughed at you. Things change. We make them change. Sometimes it happens in big leaps. Sometimes it happens in tiny steps, nibbling away at the status quo.
The truth is, billionaires are not the best job creators. They might have been on the way up, if they were entrepreneurs, but once they have the billions, they take the money and bank it, move it overseas, put it into finance, offshore business and keep minimum wage jobs at home-- like the Walton family. Losing them is not such a big loss if they go-- and we'd lose their toxic influence on politics, so good riddance.
De-billionairization should be a world-wide process. I am confident it WILL happen. The last billionaires (because you are right-- they will try to run with their money like Depardeau) will end up in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other rogue states. Another way to deal with billionaires moving is to re-write global trade agreements so nations do not harbor billionaires.
Go ahead. Call me crazy. If we don't think big and envision far we will get nowhere. We possess the technologies we have now because people refused to listen to naysayers like you-- and instead of giving up, took the criticism and used it to fine-tune the vision, as you're helping me to do.
I've been studying early human anthropology and archaelogy lately. At one point, the weather reduced the human population drastically, so they were limited to living in a very small region of Africa, near the sea. People adapted, recovered, then spread out and voila, here we are.
We may go through some serious adversity to get to a better place. But that place will not tolerate billionaires. They are as unnatural as ten foot tall humans.
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