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The Growing Danger of Dynastic Wealth


The Growing Danger of Dynastic Wealth

Robert Reich

White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, said recently that "only morons pay the estate tax."

I’m reminded of Donald Trump’s comment that he didn’t pay federal income taxes because he was "smart." And billionaire Leona Helmsley's "only the little people pay taxes."

What Cohn was getting at is how easy it is nowadays for the wealthy to pass their fortunes to their children, tax-free.


Oligarchy Now

“As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power, and they’ve used that political power to reduce their taxes.”

Yes, evading and voiding the Estate Tax will concentrate wealth more - but the “growing danger” has effectively arrived: we now live in an oligarchy that uses political power not only to reduce taxes, but to shape the political landscape via lobbying and now-unconstrained, post-Citizens United political spending.


Our “democracy” was declared to have morphed into an oligarchy several years ago, and is well on its way to becoming a kakistocracy (a government by the very worst – that’s ‘caca-stocracia’ en Español . . . )

Return to Eisenhower-Era Pro$perity  —  Return to Eisenhower-Era Tax Rate$!!


Go further back to FDR democracy for a similar CCC works program building
infrastructure for today’s needs, exclude private highways and football stadiums.
Water drainage systems, levy repair, resilient grids, forest thinning fire management,
not to mention much less oil drilling gas spewing somehow.
Self-driving cars? I don’t think so


If you extrapolate this trend (if the corrupt congress is successful in doing away with the estate tax entirely) into the future - in the the days of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of today’s multibillionaire class, you then begin to see massive fortunes with more money than they can figure out ways to spend it.

These are not the robber barons of industry, gilded age or otherwise, these are virtual pharaohs who own everything - literally, or seemingly so. With such unchallengeable wealth, who then could compete with even one of these neo-pharaohs in a meaningful way. They will be able to buy any corporation or seek a merger (whether between their stock holdings or their marriageable heirs).

Sigh! Now extrapolate increased population and climate catastrophe! It might help to compare the future to the past and the demise of the Roman Empire and the ensuing instability that caused once free farmers to voluntarily be ‘bound over’ as serfs for protection by the powerful nobles who had the resources to maintain themselves and their peasants (serves or serfs) in an unstable and relatively lawless age.

Serfs Up!

Okay fine - Neo-serfs Up


Whoever came up with taxes? Most everybody hates them. There has to be a better way of pooling money to pay for government services. What if instead of giving money to the IRS to give to politicians to spend profligately on whatever their billionaire donors want, each person got to decide where his or her taxes would go?

Blockchain democracy


There is a strong parallel here between our self-anointed hyper-rich elites, and the similarly
self-adoring and powerful aristocracy and monarchists of pre-revolutionary war England.
Back in the day, one of the great rallying cries was “No taxation without representation!”
Not that the original thirteen colonies hated taxation so much as the fact that they had
virtually no say in the ordering and governance of their own affairs. Which would have
allowed them a large say in the good disposition of those same taxes. In essence, the
same thing has been happening today in the USA. Not just in the last few years, but as
far back as the 1970s, when the highest levels of rich corporate power began to succeed
in lobbying Congress to slash their socially rightful taxes drastically. Not to mention their
even uglier success in erecting the infamous Southern Strategy, in all its incarnations.

Inevitably, this left it increasingly up to everybody lower down in the pyramid to take up
the resulting slack in very reasonable funding for infrastructure, education, healthcare
and more. All of which has suffered terribly, with sad results for a supposedly modern
nation. The Social Contract has become eroded, until it is in great danger of becoming
null and void. In the broadest terms, this has become the equivalent of being “Taxed
without representation.” The fundamental flaw in pleading for higher taxation of our
‘truly needy’ ultra-rich, as though they’d just sit idly by, without responding with even
lethal force to such a weak reformist ploy, is that, at best, it would simply leave them
in place.

And at worst? Remember what our government did, at the behest of our oligarchy,
to Chile, under Allende, a mere reformer? We need to understand how great power,
of necessity, accrues to concentrations of great wealth, in fewer and fewer hands.
If not for ourselves, then for our children and their children.


The whole US income tax system features giving average people a small taste of what the rich people get lots of. For example, Grandma dies and leaves 100k to her four kids. Yippee! They say, we don’t have to pay taxes on our 25k. We can buy a new car, but not an expensive one.

The same goes for selling a mortgaged house and then using a slight profit to help buy another more expensive, mortgaged house. Hey, people, we say, I don’t have to pay any taxes, I’m just like John McCain who owns seven houses!

No wonder Gary Cohn calls us morons.


TR contemporary SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis reminded us a century ago that “You can have concentrated wealth or you can have democracy…but you can’t have both.”

The .01%'s goal is for the tax structure and other regulations to result in their ownership of everything while the rest of us own nothing…a neofeudalist paradise for them.


“The estate and capital gains taxes were originally designed to prevent the growth of large dynasties in the U.S. and to reduce inequality”.

“They’ve been failing to do that. The richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent”.

“Many of today’s super rich never did a day’s work in their lives”.

The reason why the estate and capital gains taxes don’t work any more is because the amerikan people from 1980 on sat with the middle finger of one hand up their collective noses and the middle finger of the other hand up their collective asses. The Republicans and Democrats have successfully destroyed all of the safety nets that were put in place after the great clusterfuck of 1929. People sit around in this country not giving an ounce of attention to how the criminals they elect to office every two years are screwing them. It is so bad that they are stealing the amerikan people blind right in front of their faces without even a moments fear that they will be caught, let alone punished! They accuse people who have worked hard all of their lives and have a streak of bad luck and lose their jobs of being welfare queens. I know it will come as a surprise to a lot of the yokels that the largest welfare queens in this country have names like Boeing, Northrup, Lilly, Astra-Zeneca, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and are aided and abetted by people with names like Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump and the hundreds of other elected criminals. Well, bite the shitlog again amerika, over and over and over again. You deserve it!


YES!!! Whenever I bring up The Eisenhower top tax rate posters think I’m nuts and evil – no one should have to pay 91% on their earnings, but that’s exactly what the narcissistic hoarding dregs should be paying – there are some who get tens of thousands of dollars an hour and that’s just WRONG!


And what planet are you on? who would pay for the military, the police , fire and other responders, public schools etc. Are you saying also do away with property taxes?


Right on!!!:smiley:


Yup what else can we say?


In case you misread:


That’s right we could easily have the list right on our tax form. Check the box to the left and write the percentage or amount on the line to the right. My representatives in Congress don’t even come close to representing my wishes for how my taxes are spent.


thanks, uncle fester, for the great new word! kakistrocracy–so apropos!


The USA is at war. Perpetual war. “Support the troops” mean support the war. Wars cost money. If these patriots really support the troops, pay up.