Or, rather, you might think of Walton or Koch, Rockefeller,
Bush, DuPont, Vanderbilt and Mellon.
There are a lot of international dynasties, as discussed in
this Forbes article
, but I'm talking about the
I don't like the fact that a number of American dynasties
already exist, and I find the idea that many more are germinating
to be abhorrent.
Dynasties are very un-american. Billionaires are un-American.
Sure, we've had them, but they don't fit with a vision of a robust,
thriving just, fair democracy. I know, that's not what we have now.
We have a pretty sorry situation now. But if we are to reach the
most positive worlds, it is absolutely essential that we envision
what they look like, not what we settle for, not what we can patch
up and fix from what we have, but the ideal, best
To me, a future, ideal America does not include, does not
allow dynasties. In my ideal America, members of dynasties are
viewed as self important, parasites. They are contemptible people
who are often afflicted with a range of mental diseases-- obsessive
compulsive--hoarding of money, sociopathy, psychopathy, narcissism.
These disgusting wealthy losers think that because their parents or
grandparents made money, they are better than the rest of the
99.9%, that they deserve more.
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I've been told I'm jealous. I don't think so. Yes, I would
like to have what people in most first world nations have-- a solid
safety net. But I don't need a huge house--I've had one. I don't
need to fly in private Lear jets-- done that multiple times. I
don't need gazillion dollar art collections. Prints will do nicely.
But health care for all my kids and myself, without being hit with
big co-pays would be nice. Affordable healthy food would be great.
Durable, solid clothing is good.
I know, many billionaires, like psychopaths, look very cool,
and seem somewhat attractive, even charismatic (excluding clowns
like Donald Trump and Sheldon Adelson.) But, like psychopaths,
these people, underneath, are anything but cool or attractive. When
you see someone who is a scion, a son or daughter of a dynasty, I
encourage you to picture a 1000 pound, grotesquely obese, totally
out of control glutton, not a winner, not a charmed member of the
The thing is, dynasties are not some benign phenomenon. The
rich brats who come out of dynasties get tax-payer subsidized
advantages that give them a head start and advantage over the rest
of Americans. They, like George Bush, are born on third base
and think they hit a home run.
We need to do all we can to end American dynasties. We can
start by taxing the hell out of estates. The right wing came up
with "the death tax" as their way to frame it. I say we call it
the Dynasty tax
-- a tax that is designed to
prevent the existence or continuation of dynasties. It would take
away most of the wealth of people when they die.
Opponents of "the death tax" claim that people should have the
right to keep family homes, farms and ranches. Well, if we're
talking about an estate worth up to $10 million, that's fine. I'd
even be okay with each member of the immediate family receive a few
million each. Oh, you say that the founder with all the money
is worth $20 or $40 billion, or more, and that a few million is
nothing compared to that Too bad. The billionaire had a chance,
while alive, to give incredible help to the children and spouse.
That's enough. Maybe it's too much. Maybe we need to start to
prevent dynasties before the death of the one with all the money.
I've repeatedly called for a De-Billionairize
the Planet Crusade
I've had a chance to get to meet and to know some members of
dynasties. Most, up close, have been friendly, nice people. Many
even donate generously to charities. Many do not attempt to use
their wealth and power to influence politics or other
organizations. But there are also sick, despicable dynastians
dy-NASTY people who use their wealth routinely to buy
This affliction of our culture has been around since the
beginning of civilization. Wealthy people throw around their wealth
to gain influence. Like I said earlier, I'm proposing an idea
that may seem crazy, but if it is not put out there, it won't be
considered at all. The idea? Get rid of the power and influence of
money, starting with getting rid of the biggest inherited money
that produces dynasties.
I lean socialist. I believe that our culture has enough wealth
so everyone should share in the benefits. I believe that our
economy is designed, currently, so a percentage of the population
is unemployed. In his classic 1973 book, Small Is Beautiful;
Economics as if people mattered, author E. F. Schumacher
suggests that in an economic model where people mattered, where
making life meaningful mattered, the goal of the economic system
would be to provide a job for everyone who wanted to work.
"A modern economist may in engage in highly
sophisticated calculations on whether full employment 'pays' or
whether it might be more 'economic' to run an economy at leass than
full employment so as to ensure a greater mobility of labour, a
better stability of wages, and so forth. ... From a Buddhist point
of bview, this is standing the truth on its head by considering
goods as more important than people and consumption as more
important than creative activity. It means shifting the emphasis
from the worker to the product of work, that is, from the human to
the sub-human, a surrender to the forces of evil."
Schumacher, in his must read for these times classic work,
"since consumption is merely a means to human
well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being
with the minimum of consumption."
What a thought--not only settling, but aiming for less.
Thoreau wrote along similar lines.
This ending of dynasties in America is not a single task. It
is one plank in a platform that aims to change the economic model
our culture has become addicted to living by. It means ending the
idea of consumerism, ending the idea that more is better. Earlier
this afternoon a radio guest talking about immigrants buying their
first homes talked about building wealth. No. No, no, no. Wealth is
the problem, not an answer. People do not need wealth to live a
happy life-- unless the safety net is broken, or so precarious that
the society and culture can't be trusted. Sound
Ideally, wealth for a few, and the idea of wealth that lures
so many, and which motivates them to vote against their own
interests to protect the genuinely wealthy, is replaced by a solid
safety net for all-- like so many other nations provide for their
Even in Russia, in 1993, when I visited there, a person could
get by on $20 a month, because housing, food and education were all
provided. It is barbaric to have what we have here. The jungle
survival, dog-eat-dog idea that American's embrace is truly
uncivilized and shameful. People die here for lack of health care.
They freeze to death for lack of heat or a place to stay. Parents
starve so they can feed their children one meal a day.
I envision an America where people have cradle to grave health
care, access to education, housing, public transportation, healthy
food-- forget about paying for the processed, packaged cardboard
and liquid swill that the big corporations offer, creating a sickly
populace and a health care system that fixes the ailments caused by
the bad food and the toxic environment despoiled by poisonous food
production approaches. This is not crazy, there are many nations
which already do it. Yet many will call me crazy for even proposing
it for the United States.
We need a big, bottom-up vision that aims for small and local,
that embraces bottom-up values, like sharing, cooperation,
interdependence, community. It's that simple. To make it happen we
need to start by studying people like Schumacher, and then move to
fund and create a literal science of small-- that develops
concrete, effective ways to build big systems, to take advantage of
economies of scale while hewing to the value of smallness. Critics
argue that we need BIG companies to build railroads and jumbo jets
and skyscrapers. But they don't prove it. They just assume it. I
say we humans can do amazing things while staying small and
Start by ending dynastic welfare
Currently, too many members of dynasties receive government
welfare, in many different ways. This has to stop. Start with
ending agricultural subsidies for wealthy people with hobby or pet
farms. That goat or alpaca or llama should not qualify a dyNASTY
person as a government welfare recipient.
Sure, this is not possible today. Neither was the Apollo moon
landing program. This is a big change. The first step is to talk
about it, to put it out there. Tell people about it. Share this.
Get the word out. Say no thanks to that second helping. It starts
with simple steps.