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How to Redistribute Wealth—Without the Guillotine


How to Redistribute Wealth—Without the Guillotine

Josh Hoxie

I stumbled into the crowded bookstore on a cold winter day a few years ago, rushing to catch a glimpse of the author speaking in the back. As is my custom, I was late and his speech was well underway.


This goes out to JOHN ELLIS who relentlessly uses a 50-50 frame that alleges that half the nation's wealth belongs to HALF the citizens.

It's hoped that he is a human being, and thus capable of amending his errors. If he is a machine--one of those computer-generated sock puppets--this FACTUAL data will bypass his programmed circuits.

Here it is:

"According to numbers my colleague Chuck Collins and I crunched, the 400 wealthiest Americans now own more wealth than the entire GDP of India, a nation of nearly 1.3 billion people. And the 20 wealthiest Americans alone—a group small enough to fit on a private jet—are richer than the bottom half of Americans combined."


Excellent article, Mr. Hoxie.

Since the following makes such absolute sense, it requires the legion of Koch Brothers' funded think tanks to propagate narratives that undermine its value, virtue, and practical applications:

"Consider a flat, 1 percent wealth tax levied exclusively on the wealthiest 1 percent of households.

"The top 1 percent controls 42 percent of the nation’s household wealth, about $26 trillion in total. In its simplest form, a 1 percent tax would raise $260 billion annually—more than the federal government now spends on education and environmental protection combined."

The already concentrated sums of wealth have led to the purchase of academics, senators, congressmen and congresswomen, judges, and control of what passes for "adult discussions" within the mainstream media.

That's why something as sane and just as this 1% levy on existing wealth is never discussed; and if Sanders dares to broach the subject, a chorus of voices accuse him of class warfare, envy of the rich, and other nonsense.


Taxing wealth, if the oligarchy would allow it (to perhaps defuse Bernie's movement), is a small, partial, temporary fix. Taxing wealth can't address the major problem of preventing oligarchy.

"Them with gold makes the rules".

A powerful oligarchy will bribe and threaten politicians, invade countries, spy on, rob, torture and kill those that don't comply with its demands.

Capping personal wealth by yearly referendum and redistributing the excess equally to all is the permanent solution to oligarchy.


Cut to the chase and take all the ill gotten gains...off with their heads!


No, we will need the Guillotine, as well as more than a few nooses to clean up the government, as well as corporate and commercial America. Nothing like a good old-fashioned frontier necktie party for the varmints in DC and Wall St.


Another angle to take is to increase the property tax rate according to the number of properties a person/corporation owns. The more properties you own, the higher the rate you pay.


We shouldn't just tax billionaires’ paychecks, in other words. We need to tax the wealth they've already amassed. That idea isn't going to clear Congress anytime soon. But it's just as serious, reasonable, and likely to become law as any other genuine solution.

Colonized countries, in what they hoped to be the "post colonial" era, attempted to redistribute the wealth, usually land. It never worked, out; and now we're in the "neo-colonial" era. And, the colonizing countries themselves are beginning to feel the brunt; except instead of satraps run from the imperial center, we have politicians run from corporate boardrooms.

I don't know the solution to this, but it's not going to be by asking "pretty please".


Tax capital gains at least 35% pre Reagan. Remember Reaganomics that foxy trickle ( not pour ) down theory? People were naive enough to buy into that.


Yes, tax the wealth and capital gains they have amassed. This is the same crowd that wants to get rid of people for labor and use robots. Perhaps they should BE the robots.


I can hear the capitalist ruling class laughing their asses off with this "1% tax on wealth" nonsense. The capitalist ruling class piss away more than that on their numerous vacations in a year without batting an eye!

Additionally, taxing the wealth of the ruling class ignores the source and cause of inequality: Capitalism.

You cannot eliminate inequality until you eliminate capitalism. Inequality is inherent to capitalism.

Capitalism is a total system that invades all areas of life: socialism must be the overcoming of capitalist reality in its entirety, or it is nothing.

Source: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ulli-diemer-what-is-libertarian-socialism


Well, the revolting peasants of around 1315 were saying the same thing to the then King of the UK. Social change sure takes a long time. Not surprising that the guillotine operators in this world sometimes get impatient.


And them with the rules makes the gold.


Henry the eighth did this successfully with the Catholic Corporation in England. Luther's barons did this in Germany and the Spanish Kings did this to the Arab Caliphs,,,,just to mention a few examples


interesting pipe dream but a pipe dream nonetheless. give this some thought, the ppl that would actually vote on this are the ones that are directly benefiting from the system they way it is now I/e the congress. now there are those that have the job of stirring the pot and speechifying this fantasy all the while knowing that there is no chance of anything like this passing but it gives them the opportunity to stand before their constituency and use the time tested congressional mantra 'hey i voted for it but im just one vote'
somehow I just don't see congress voting themselves a pay cut anymore than I see them voting themselves into fiscal responsibility. but then its always nice to fantasize about some things


The author laid the groundwork for this idea by saying that social change agents know it's a long game. I thank Hoxie for planting the seed of this idea. Sanders is asking us to think big, to envision a different future and to work towards that vision, as is Hoxie. (In my organizing, I've found how hard it is for people to think big. The years of being misinformed about the role of government and how it can be a force for good have done their damage.) The ideas each of them brings to the table won't be enacted immediately, but they can be enacted through movement building. Or they can fall into the dustbin of history--it's up to us.


I think there are far too many in the, "Well that would never happen here." mindset. Unless those that wield this power come to the realization that they are out of time. This is going to take an ugly turn sooner than later.

I think the article assumes that most people are doing OK and can afford to wait another 20 or 30 years like the Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, for the Civil Rights movement, there was a minority of people being treated horribly while the majority of people were doing pretty well for itself. A recipe for a long slow change.

What we have is a majority of people that aren't doing well. Their well being is declining rapidly. Health care and the housing disaster continue to affect them more, access to affordable education,and a job market that continues to gut good paying career jobs take its toll. The majority are running through their limited wealth, when they are out the timer goes off.

The pressures are increasing rapidly.Those in the main stream seem incapable of realizing how far the mindset has shifted. They misunderstand the rise in influence of Trump. They dismissed Sanders and his supporters. They continue to avoid coverage of protests of CNN and those being arrested on the Capital steps.

This may be in its infancy, but the Tidal wave will break. It just looks like a small swell on the horizon right now.


There's a mouthful of truth in those few words.

Not only is it hard for (most) people to think big, they don't have the ability or patience to think long term. They want results now. Otherwise, it's just too much of a hassle.

This points to another reality; the vast majority of people aren't ready for revolutionary change. They aren't willing to live through the "inconvenience" and sacrifice required to effect revolutionary change. I think that is a huge change from 40 or 50 years ago.

Successful movements accumulate broad and large support from all demographics in society ... not a select few. This takes time, a sustainable purpose and vision, and a commitment to work through the time required (years) to gain the numbers needed to demand and effect the changes needed and struggled for over the years.

Without long-term unshakable inspiration (a vision), commitment and dedication; everything is just allusive illusion.


Did you know that the overwhelming majority of very poor are white? Black people don't know that they exist, and white people pretend they don't. Did you know that it has virtually been open season on our homeless poor for years, as they've been beaten, even killed, by citizens and police alike? There are no weeks of liberal outrage, no marches for justice, no concern. "Just some homeless bum."

In reality, not everyone can work (health, etc.), and there aren't jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge share of our jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who still have the means to seek one (can't get a job without a home address, phone, bus fare). Well, what should we do about those who are left out?

The US redistributed a huge chunk of America's wealth upward since Reagan. If you pay attention, what liberals call for is some redistribution of wealth from the rich to the middle class. They maintain the belief that only those who are of current use to employers are deserving of the most basic human rights (per the UN's UDHR) of food and shelter. The rich want more, and don't want a crumb to trickle down. The middle class want more, and don't want a crumb to trickle down. So, we're stuck.


From FDR to Reagan, the US had implemented a full range of policies and programs, with a focus on poverty reduction and legitimate restraints on corporate and financial powers. As a result, the US achieved its height of wealth and productivity -- far from perfect, a work in progress, but far better. That progress cost taxpayer dollars, but the results were the biggest, most prosperous middle class in history.

Then we changed our minds. We reversed the policies, ended the programs, and the US has fallen behind a list of modern nations in virtually every respect. Yet another example of what happens when a nation forgets its own history.