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November 25, 2013

Dynasties Are Un-American. Get Rid of Them

By Rob Kall

When you think of dynasties, you might think of the ancient Chinese. 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 USA. 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.

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When you think of dynasties, you might think of the ancient Chinese. 

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/32605636@N06/9619718380/: Photograph of Shum-Chick Tong
Photograph of Shum-Chick Tong
(Image by State Library of Queensland, Australia)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

 

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 USA. 

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 situation. 

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. 

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 upper elite.  

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 influence. 

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. Schumacher writes,
"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, observes,
"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 familiar? 

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 citizens. 

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 local. 

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. 


Submitters Bio:

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. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes

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Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. 

For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. 

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Talk Nation Radio interview by David Swanson:  Rob   Kall  on Bottom-Up Governance June, 2017

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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