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A Weird, Crazy Idea: Make Extreme Wealth an International Crime

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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It's time to start aiming to create international laws that make extreme wealth not only as despicable as war crimes and the worst heinous abuses, but to also make it illegal. It might be a far off vision that some call crazy, but the big solutions this planet and the 99% of humanity need are going to be labeled crazy.

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Yemen is a hotbed of chaos. Saudis are bombing, US drones are killing, rebellion is routine. One name coming up is Ali Abdullah Saleh-- the longtime dictator of Yemen, who stepped down after being granted immunity from prosecution in 2012. Apparently, during his 33 year reign he accumulated over $30 billion in wealth. Now he's back, making trouble. Billionaires tend to do that.

From commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ali_Abdullah_Saleh.jpg: Ali Abdullah Saleh
Ali Abdullah Saleh
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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Then we have Sheldon Adelson, who owns Israel's largest circulation newspaper, which is given away free. It aggressively backs Israel's version of Dick Cheney, war monger Bibi Netanyahu.
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How many billionaire hedge fund owners contributed to the economic disaster of 2008?

Bill Gates says he's giving away all his money through his foundation, but he's using it to promote GMO. I bring up Bill gates because defenders of billionaires often cite him as an example of how billionaires can do good. No. Billionaires end up using their money for their favorite causes, and that doesn't mean they are doing good or that they should have the right to do what they want with that money.

My critics will say that the extremely wealthy earned their money and paid taxes on it already, so they should be able to use it as they like, including bequeathing it to their children. There's plenty of evidence that this is not true. The wealthy hire people to make laws to protect them from paying their fair share and then hire accountants and attorneys to protect them from even paying the diminished amounts.

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At one time the wealthy owned slaves. Now it is a crime. We can do the same for extreme possession of wealth. It won't happen overnight, but neither did abolishment of slavery. This is a cause that Jesus would have supported. Didn't he say it is easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven?

Extreme wealth is a bizarre, freak of economics that malignant capitalism has allowed to develop. It is a profoundly pathological top-down phenomenon that should addressed by the UN and all nations so that any person in any nation will be subject to laws that make excessive wealth a crime.

Currently, billions of people respecte and adulate billionaires as the ultimate successes. This is based on a toxic, pathological value system. We need to turn it around so kindness, generosity, sacrifice and doing good are the prime reasons people are given respect-- not wealth and top-down power over.

This will be fought by the wealthy and by their vassals. It will be assailed as crazy and socialist or communist, but we need to create a new economic model that includes justice, fairness and balance, which recognizes that extreme wealth is a threat to democracy, justice, fairness and freedom. To make it possible to put such a law into effect, other laws will also be necessary. Consider this a project as big and daunting as the Apollo moon landing program. I'm sure many people said it was crazy and couldn't be done. But doing it not only achieved the primary goal but also thousands of other technological spin-offs. The same will be true for an ultra-wealth criminality law.

Some of the spin-off developments will include massive increases in transparency and will address the problems described in my article, The power and danger of complexity and secrecy , which described how some corporations have created thousands of subsidiary companies to conceal their full activities. Of course, the extreme wealthy can and do use the same strategies to hide the full extent of their wealth and income.

And there will be the matter of punishment for the crime of excessive wealth. First, the excess wealth must be distributed to victims. Yes, victims. The extreme wealthy underpay employees. They exploit and despoil the environment. They steal or under-pay for natural resources-- minerals, fossil fuels, airwaves-- and they must all be recompensated for. The economics of calculating such recompensation will be another NASA-like "spinoff" of the excessive wealth crime project.

As far as punishing those who accumulate criminal excessive wealth there will probably be multiple categories-- dictators like Saleh would be treated more severely than start-up entrepreneurs, who suddenly become wealthy. The latter would be given an opportunity to make things right. The dictators would become pariahs-- all banks not allowed to release their money once they are charged. The laws associated with dealing with hold-out and on-the-run excessive wealth criminals would also have to be developed.

The only way this kind of law will become a reality is for a bottom-up revolution to happen. That does not have to be violent. There are already signs that have appeared, like spring buds on bare tree limbs. We have the power to take back justice, democracy, freedom, clean ecosystems-- from big corporations and the wealthy. We have to think really big. We have to come up with visions and ideas that others will call crazy. As a matter of fact, I would argue that if we don't come up with visions and goals that some, especially the old, top-down powers call crazy, we aren't visioning far enough ahead.


 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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