Ralph Nader: Wealth for Justice

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Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us cover image"There are signs that some super-rich are revolting against their "wealth fraternity." Last fall, mega-billionaire, Warren Buffet, traveled to Washington to meet with Democratic Senators and urge them to raise taxes on the wealthy like him. He pointedly said he pays at a lower rate than his secretary. [...] Earlier in this decade, he joined with a thousand other rich Americans led by lawyer William Gates, Sr. and Chuck Collins (founder of United For a Fair Economy) to successfully block the repeal of the estate tax (applied to 2% of wealthier decedents) by a Republican-controlled Congress.

Just last week, Mr. Gates, father of Microsoft's Bill, Jr. launched an initiative campaign in Washington state to impose a progressive income tax on the wealthiest citizens [...]

Last week, several megamillionaires held a conference call with reporters to express their desire for high taxes on people like them. 'I would with pleasure sacrifice the income,' declared Jeffrey Hollander, CEO of Seventh Generation. Eric Schoenberg, possessing investment banking riches, bewailed his 'absurdly low tax rates.'

According to the Washington Post, paper-mill heir Mike Lapham said that 'We're calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us, send the message to Congress and President Obama that it's time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.' He was referring to the Bush-Cheney tax cuts which saved the then-White House rulers hundreds of thousands of dollars, personally, over the near decade of cuts. At the time, I requested Bush and Cheney have the decency to exempt themselves from their own tax cuts, but they declined. [emphasis added]

According to a Quinnipiac University poll in March, a solid majority of Americans favor raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year.

Then there is Dieter Lehmkuhl. Last October, he delivered to German Chancellor Angela Merkel a petition signed by 44 rich Germans urging a 5% wealth tax for two years to fund economic and social programs to aid Germany's economic recovery. The petition asserted that 'the path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice.'

Megabillionaires in our country are encountering their peers here and around the world to commit fifty percent of their estates to 'good works.' They will grapple with the definition of 'good works' as to whether that means charity or justice.

The difference is important. For example, soup kitchens are a necessary and human charity. Whereas justice goes to the causes of why rich economies have any hunger at all.

With some super-rich thinking about moving from soft philanthropy to advocacy, or to shifts of power, I hope my recent work of political imagination -- 'Only the Super-rich Can Save Us!' will spark their interest."

Read the full column by Ralph Nader on CommonDreams.org


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