Eat the Rich!

| August 6, 2020


Makes the world go ’round.

VoV has been kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to pen this essay for our entertainment and discussion. Somehow I think there will be discussion, and rather a lot. Exactly why I’m happy to post up his work.

VoV

Tax The Rich, or What Are We Really Talking About Here?

In our current hotbed of political debate we’ve managed to find a way to make taxing the rich seem like a communist plot of some nature, the propaganda from the billionaire class is so effective that people beholden to those billionaires seem willing to die for the concept of protecting the wealth of the billionaire class. I like to read the founders as you may or may not know and review their thoughts. My favorites among them of course are Jefferson, Thomas Paine, the rabble rousing Sam Adams…among others.

The men who started the nation had different views than most billionaire capitalists of today, in fact the founders views today would be described as socialist/communist when it comes to taxing the rich because the founders believed the rich were largely to blame for the problems of the era. The rich contributed nothing while taking all, and did so for generations. The founders felt that to be an abomination, largely because the colonies at the time were the most equal wealth distribution places on this earth. The colonies were so new that intergenerational wealth had not become a presence in the local politics for the most part and some of the founders wanted to keep it that way forever.

We all see what we want to see I think when it comes to the reading of any individual or in any literature. As a consequence there are many quotes taken in small bites out of context used by the wealthy today to support the notion the founders were looking to create an oligarchy for the monied classes. These quotes when viewed in the context of the larger writings of the founders indicate a slightly different picture.

Thomas Jefferson often quoted Adam Smith when expressing his thoughts on such things, “A power to dispose of estates forever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding generation can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural. There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death”

North Carolina’s 1784 statue explained it like this (regarding the old system of keeping large estates together for generation after generation): “only to raise the wealth and importance of particular families and individuals, giving them an unequal and undue influence in a republic” and promoting “contention and injustice.” Abolishing aristocratic forms of inheritance would by contrast “tend to promote that equality of property which is of the spirit and principle of a genuine republic.”

Thomas Paine wanted to take that notion even further, he found that the concept of “landed property” such an affront to the natural rights of succeeding generations to the usufruct of the earth that he proposed the nation adopt a “ground rent” which was basically an inheritance tax to be applied to the conveyance of land title upon the death of the previous holder and that money be then distributed to all citizens at the age of 21 as compensation in part only for the loss of his or her natural inheritance due to the system of landed properties.

We can see in more recent Republican presidents a similar disdain for inherited wealth…the much maligned Herbert Hoover for instance who said the only problem with capitalism is capitalists who are far too regularly too damned greedy. He proposed the notion of the rich having a larger social responsibility to the Republic, so much so that he was in favor of a steeply graduated tax on legacies and gifts for the deliberate purpose of disintegrating large fortunes. He stated that those who worshipped unrestricted capitalism were basically immoral and gave no consideration to the simple fact that property or the power over property could easily be used to abuse the liberty of our society at large. He further stated it would be abused to limit and dominate the freedom of those less endowed with property and money.

One of my personal favorites Teddy Roosevelt (his man in the arena remains one of my favorite essays/speeches) was actually the first president to propose the graduated tax on inheritance as such wealth transfer to young men “does not do them any real service and is of great and genuine detriment to the community at large.”

Eisenhower warned that the corporate wealth of government contracts would also be a potential means of overwhelming the Republic through corruption and abuse of money, property, and power. One might argue based on corporate political power today he was largely correct in his assessment. In fact in my view he was so spot on that when viewed objectively the reality of our politics today are those of a single party corporate oligarchy with two distinct factions designed to keep the population at each other’s throats and away from the throats of those abusing them for personal gain through wealth transfer upwards. The propaganda creating the distinction between those two factions is so powerful that the Orange Man Bad crowd felt defeating Bernie Sanders was more important than defeating Trump. A most interesting discussion for another essay I suspect.

The founders and those who believe their vision was a good and accurate one had little use for the monied classes gaining control over the Republic using their money and wealth to abuse and corrupt the systems of government. Typically to suit their fortunes at the expense of those of the great masses of the population of this great Republic.

Thus tax the rich isn’t some socialist degradation of the Republic, but as the founders and others have envisioned it is perhaps the safest way to keep those with vast wealth and power from corrupting the Republic further into nothing more than a wealth conduit to their personal bank accounts.

As always, thank you for reading. No doubt many of you will find this objectionable, as is appropriate feel free to tell me exactly why.
Veritas Omnia Vincit

Thanks, VoV. Keep ’em comin’

Category: America, Guest Post, Legal

Comments (101)

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  1. Slow Joe says:

    Nah. Way too long to read.

    And there was no BLUF.

    Where is the TL,DR version?

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      TLDR, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Teddy Roosevelt Herbert Hoover, Eisenhower and a host of others felt large fortunes should be dismantled upon the death of the fortune holder and be distributed to society at large.

      Taxing massive fortunes isn’t a commie plot it’s what the founders wanted to do from day one.

      • Slow Joe says:

        Hahaha.

        The rich ALWAYS finds a way to pass their wealth to their children. Humans are hardwired that way. We work for our children.

        The United States succeeded because of the rule of law and property rights, embracing Human nature rather than fighting it.

        This is the reason why free market capitalism triumphs wherever it is fully implemented, regardless of the natural resources available in that country.

        If your have cooked unnatural economic theories worked, the Soviet Union would be there and resources rich countries which have nationalized their resources would be the most prosperous nations.

        • Anonymous says:

          True dat.

        • Flakpup says:

          Well, there’s working for your children, and then there’s working for your children. I definitely intend to leave a sufficient nest egg for my child, but I don’t want to handicap her by leaving her too much so that she becomes a shiftless layabout. I don’t think anyone would argue that Paris Hilton is actually better off for the money she received from her family.

          I would prefer to have more say in anything else beyond what goes to my child, when the government vultures go after other pieces of my estate. I still feel that so much of the estate tax ends up supporting useless portions of society or government-types that are paid far too much for doing far too little.

      • Slow Joe says:

        Let me ask you this, Vov.

        Of two countries, same siza same resources, but one has 100 millionaires and the other has no millionaires, in which one do you think the smallfolk can find better jobs and the economy supports a higher and more prosperous living style for the masses?

    • ninja says:

      Slow Joe reminds me of some Millennials..the type of Millennial that want things NOW.

      Guess Slow Joe never read an OPORD…or an AAR…or a Book..or watched “The Godfather” or “Dr. Zhivago”.. or listened to the complete version of “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida”.. or ran a Marathan..

      Probably would never last as a Prisoner of War..

      😉😎

  2. LC says:

    I’m just gonna leave this here for others who thought VoV maybe sneezed and hit random keys:

    usufruct, noun : the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance.

  3. Slow Joe says:

    OMG, VOV finally came out as a communist.

    After reading the firts two paragraphs, it is obvious VOV used the Founder Fathers critique of aristocracy as a source to fight free market capitalism.

    So deceiving…

    • ninja says:

      As I commented above:

      “Slow Joe reminds me of some Millennials..the type of Millennial that want things NOW.”

      “Guess Slow Joe never read an OPORD…or an AAR…or a Book..or watched “The Godfather” or “Dr. Zhivago”.. or listened to the complete version of “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida”.. or ran a Marathan..”

      “Probably would never last as a Prisoner of War..”

      And now that I think about it, probably could never endure what Job or Joseph in the Bible went thru…or OCS at Fort Benning…or successfully served under General George Washington, especially in those cold winter months..

      What are we gonna do with you, Slow Joe…

      😉😎

      • Slow Joe says:

        Find me a war to fight, and I’ll show you what I can do.

        • Slowest Joe says:

          Famous last words

        • Slowest Joe says:

          Internet brave much?

          • Slow Joe says:

            I hate suck puppets!

            • ninja says:

              Slow Joe:

              What is your RANGER Class Number again?

              BTW, NCOs HAVE been held accountable for sexual misconduct and HAVE got to retire…it happened to the SGM of the Army in 1998..(please read my comment about this on the SF Colonel post).

              😎😉

              • Slow Joe says:

                I am not a Ranger and I have never claim ed to be one.

                What kind of question was that?

                • ninja says:

                  Oh, you are NOT a RANGER?

                  Then who do you think you are when you made the following comments on the RANGER post yesterday?

                  “So real Rangers have scrolls, Ranger school qualifieds have tabs.”

                  Your comment to Planet Ord:

                  “Well, your uncle is not a Ranger.”

                  “He is Ranger qualified, which is a great achievement on itself, since Ranger school is the hardest school in the Army, bar none.”

                  “But, he ain’t a Ranger.”

                  All these comments coming from someone who NEVER WENT TO RANGER SCHOOL…

                  Sheesh…Some People

                  • MI Ranger says:

                    YEs, and they are perfectly fine comments to make, as they get the meat of the issue at hand. What is the definition and what is the understanding.
                    Class 96-05 graduated (started in 96-04)

                  • Slow Joe says:

                    For shits and giggles, I am gonna answer this:

                    What is a “REAL RANGER”?

                    Anyone that served in the Ranger bats.
                    How do I know this?
                    Because this is what CURRENT active duty Rangers in Ranger bats have told me.
                    They play political correctness in public and don’t insist in calling out tab-only guys for calling themselves Rangers.
                    But, when they are truthful, this is what they really believe, and I agree with their point of view.
                    School last a few months, but serving 3 years in a bat? That’s the real deal.

                  • 11B-Mailclerk says:

                    Last I checked, he had the same right to comment as anyone else.

                    You might not -like- his take on your sacred cow…

                    One of the Drill Sergeants in my company at OSUT jumped into Grenada. He wore those wings with that little gold mark. One of the other Drill Sergeants, fresh from school, shouted Airborne! one too many times.

                    “Airborne? Shut up cherry jumper.”

                    Ouch.

                    So I guess not everyone schooled in academia is seen quite the same by those out living the profession.

                    Too many folks play that virtue signal game over bling.

                    • MI Ranger says:

                      Met an older gentlemen once during a Reunion thing (I think it was 51). He said he had two jumps…but he called all of us Jump Masters cherries:
                      He had one jump for practice (did not say where) and the other was in to Klein America DZ in Nijmegen, Holland…so yeah we accepted his assessment of our experience.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    Gee, I don’t think much has changed since we started trading pretty rocks for food and set up housekeeping in some valley with plenty of game, water, and fire fuel available.

    Good article, VOV. More please.

  5. Slow Joe says:

    Only the rich create jobs.
    The richer the rich, the more jobs it creates.

    Or are you, VOV, one of those that believe the rich keep their money sitting in the bank?

  6. Slow Joe says:

    Can you imagine the flight of rich people if we start raising death taxes?

    VoV, the rich are like a natural resource. The more we have, the better. On the contrary, we need laws that attract more rich people to come over and bring their wealth and their families.

    This has to be the most retarded post in the history of TAH.

    • Slow Joe says:

      VOV’s post, not mine.

    • ninja says:

      Slow Joe:

      What was your RANGER Class Number again?

      😉😎

      • Slow Joe says:

        Why do you keep asking that?

        • ninja says:

          Are you or are you not a RANGER?

          Read what you wrote in the RANGER posts yesterday…

          • Slow Joe says:

            I seem to vaguely recal posting there.

            I assume I posted what everyone in the infantry knows.

            Ranger qualified is not the same than serving in a Ranger bat.

            Real Rangers wear scrolls, school Rangers wear only the tab.

            Why do you find this controversial?

            • ninja says:

              Oh, you are NOT a RANGER?

              Then who do you think you are when you made the following comments on the RANGER post yesterday?

              “So real Rangers have scrolls, Ranger school qualifieds have tabs.”

              Your comment to Planet Ord:

              “Well, your uncle is not a Ranger.”

              “He is Ranger qualified, which is a great achievement on itself, since Ranger school is the hardest school in the Army, bar none.”

              “But, he ain’t a Ranger.”

              All these comments coming from someone who NEVER WENT TO RANGER SCHOOL…

              And give me a BREAK when you wrote THIS comment:

              “I assume I posted what everyone in the infantry knows.”

              I guess the US Army is only composed of Infantry…and Slow Joe…*sarc*

              Sheesh…

              • Ret_25X says:

                Yeah, you must be reading impaired because nothing he said implied, stated, or hinted that HE was a ranger.

                Or as I call them: who cares?

                EVERY job in the Army is important. Although, the HR types tried my patience more than once…

                • SFC D says:

                  I went to a 1 week mountaineering/rappelling course on Cheju island in 1988, that’s kinda like Ranger school isn’t it?

    • ninja says:

      Wow…

      Slow Joe wrote:

      “This has to be the most retarded post in the history of TAH.”

      You know who Slow Joe reminds me of?

      Jerry Nadler….

      And in the words of Attorney General Barr, Slow Joe is a “Class Act”..

      • ninja says:

        For Slow Joe and his comment about VoV EXCELLENT article:

        “Oh, Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble, When You’re Perfect in Every Way…”

        “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
        When you’re perfect in every way
        I can’t wait to look in the mirror
        I get better looking each day
        To know me is to love me
        I must be a hell of a man
        Oh Lord It’s hard to be humble,
        We’re doing the best that we can”

        • Slow Joe says:

          I am very humble.

          What the hell are you talking about?

          Do you want to raise taxes?

          Is that what this is about?

          • ninja says:

            Your reading compression has alot to be desired..

            You made this comment about VoV’s EXCELLENT Post:

            “This has to be the most retarded post in the history of TAH.”

            That is NOT a very humble statement, which means YOU AINT HUMBLE.

            That is a statement from an arrogant, narcisstic person.

            Show some respect for others, Soldier.

            Better yet, show some Maturity.

            Grow Up.

            Don’t embarrass the US Army NCO Corps or the Infantry.

            Sheesh…

            (My apologies to VoV for hijacking his thread..)

  7. 5th/77th FA says:

    History has always had the “Haves”, the “Have Nots”, and the “Can’t Finds”.

    The “Haves” have the desire and motivation to better their lot in life and, for the most part, the lives of their progeny.

    The “Have Nots” do not have the desire or the motivation to improve their lives or the lives of their progeny. Or to improve Society as a whole.

    The “Can’t Finds” can’t find the desire or the motivation to improve their lot in life. Or to contribute to Society as a whole. These latter two “Have” allowed themselves to become the parasites and the dregs of Society and delight in taking from the haves either thru tax or outright theft. And to blaming Society for their problems. Feed people a fish, feed them for a day; teach people to fish and they will feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

    While I was in the wholesale business we knew that 80% of our business was generated by 20% of our customers. That same ratio was found to be the case in workers in industry and in many cases in Military Organizations. 80% of the top quality work was done by 20% of the workforce. Many could not be motivated to do better. And compensating the slackard at the same rate as the hard charger, affected the morale and willingness to continue to be a hard charger.

    All of that being said, I do agree with what VOV has written and some of the ideas espoused. The vast accumulation of wealth by certain families, businesses, AND grubmint entities has consolidated the power OVER the people to unprecedented levels. However I do not agree that it should be the responsibility of the government to re-distribute anyone’s wealth to Society as a whole. At the end of the day, who would want to innovate and advance their status if it will be given to people that have sat on their azzes during the same time frame?

    At one point in time, America was considered the last great hope of mankind as a place to better oneself. Some are still coming here to realize that dream. Others are coming to become part of the free sh^t army that was created by BOTH parties that stir up division to distract us from what their ultimate goal is. Some leaders have said, “pack up you camel, load up your ass, we are to shovel off to the promised land.” Politicians have told them to put down their shovel, sit on their ass, light up a camel, this is the promised land.

    I think that everyone has the same equal opportunity to stub out their camel, get off their ass, pick up a shovel and go to work.

    • penguinman000 says:

      I largely agree with you. The problem is when we have so few with such a large chunk of the pie, when they decide they don’t want a level playing field they get to squeeze everyone else out.

      I don’t think more government “revenue” is a good idea either. That would be the same as lighting the cash on fire.

      What I would like to see is something akin to tax incentives and policies that rewarded economic activity directly beneficial to main street. Imagine if the people actually creating jobs on main street got the same kinds of tax breaks/loopholes bankers do?

      Then again, what do I know. I’m just a squid who never went to Ranger school. 😉

    • Jarhead says:

      As I have aged I have come to realize the 80/20 rule is a reality. Be it businesses, any organizations (A L and V F W for example) or any group entity, is is always 20% who do the lifting while many of the 80% bitch because it is not done the way they want. Another subject, but still related..what bothers the hell out of me is trying to find someone to do service work such as a plumber or electrician. Wealthy people do not create businesses in order to provide jobs; how simple is that? They do so and invest in a business to make money, plain and simple. But what bothers the hell out of me even worse is the many who sit on their ass, do nothing, and live very well indeed from the sweat off other people’s backs. Never will mention his name, but a local retired businessman in our immediate area was old and hard core. Once told me, “I’m from the old school and we give a break for a 30 minute lunch, NOTHING else, regardless of the weather”. Until he died he lived on about 60 acres, had right at 15 horses, D C 9, bulldozer and plenty of other heavy equipment specifically for use around his home. Meanwhile, most of his employees were working for next to nothing, most living in trailers. Back to finding service providers today, there are still PLENTY of small time operators who have maybe three or four people doing their work for them, being paid an average of $15 per hour around here, yet the owners sit on their ass and get by with charging up to $90 per hour for their labor. To add insult to injury, these days quite a few self employed individuals who do their own work are now charging a “Showup Fee” of as much as $75. Yeh, I know it should not bother me the way business is done these days, as all working for a pittance are doing so on their own. I don’t mind paying an individual for HIS time, but I DO have a problem paying those who sit on their ass and make more per hour off workers than they are paid to begin with. Will finish my rant with this thought…it’s extremely difficult these days to find anyone willing to work. Say you worked at McDonald’s and earned between $8 and $10 per hour. Now being laid off, getting basic unemployment IN ADDITION to $600 per week, why would people want to go back to work? We have on hell of a mess on our hands and truth be told, politicians don’t expect things to improve or they would not be capping this next round of $400 (this time) per week additional unemployment income due to running out in late December or January. We be in a mess…and I don’t think things are going to improve anytime soon. Keep your powder dry, you might very well need it sooner than you think.

      • MI Ranger says:

        Jarhead,
        I completely agree with your assessment. At lot of the problems you have pointed out, and specifically the lack of skilled laborers, can be traced back to the 1980s and the push for everyone to go to college.
        Colleges started upping their fees, not their salaries or the value, just their fees.
        Student loans became easier and easier for anyone to get…just sign here!
        And Guidance councilors began pushing everyone to get a degree…not learn a technical trade or join the military.
        Now, as a recent story points out you can earn a living while learning your technical skills, not go into debt, and actually have an in demand job when you are done. https://www.thesimpledollar.com/investing/college/why-you-should-consider-trade-school-instead-of-college/

        (As a side note, they don’t brain wash you in to thinking Communism works and is a great thing!)

  8. And if the wrong peeps get into office, the old adage says that what is yours is now mine and what is mine is mine.

  9. MI Ranger says:

    So my question having not as thoroughly read the Founding Fathers writings, wonder why they did not impose these ideas in the Constitution?

    Could it be that they realized how acerbic this was of an idea? It would have turned our Nation of ideas into a Corporate Free for all! All wealth and power would have been seized by corporations and there would be no way to get it back. Instead of Families holding onto assets and the fortune riding on the ability of the next generations to build it or lose it, it would be transferred to Corporations and just simply expanded. No one but the corporation would be able to compound their fortunes. Instead of generations changing their ideas, we would get bi-laws of capitalists that sought only to increase their bottom line.

    Families at least divvy up their property when it is passed down (not corporations). While wealth taxes are a means to invigorate the coffers of the common man, it would relegate the United States to a back water nation where every generation we would restart the game and never be able to compete because we could not amass the capital necessary to influence the game!
    If you have ever considered capitalism and its ebbs and flows, imagine how it would be if all those great businesses could only be built in a single generation. While it does not stymie innovation, it does resist the ability to make businesses that are truly global in scope. Now imagine if those businesses were not family run, but simply passed amongst the board to the next faithful capitalist? Instead of the Carnegies, and philanthropy, think the Rockefellers and Standard Oil.

  10. Slow Joe says:

    More freedom is the solution to all our problems.

    The function of the gruberment is to male sure it is a equal playing field, not the equality of outcomes.

    I am more worry about the gruberment failing to do their job that on the concentration of wealth.

    Wealth inequality is a GOOD thing, because not all people work the same, produce the same, or create the same value with their innovations.

  11. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    Those able to amass a fortune are able to game it to pass it along. They learn to play the acquire, keep, and use” game. “Pass it along” is included.

    Tell me you intend to confiscate half my estate, and I will game half of it to make sure you don’t. I might burn it just to spite the thieves. I win. You lose. I am a minor player at this game, and I guarantee I can get it more to my intended recipients than yours.

    Guar-on-tee it.

    Trusts, corporations, investment vehicles, charitable/educational orgs, clubs, libraries…

    The more you attack them, the more crooked -you- make the system. Only the lower rung folks get hit. The top folks laugh and pay lawyers and lobbyists and walk away rich.

    Maybe why those top folks seem to play along? Oops. Missed that.

    Don’t base your thinking on envy. What they have doesn’t matter. What you -do- matters.

    Not you place or job to allocate who gets stuff, unless it is your stuff.

    Charity is done with one’s own wealth, or that freely given. Theft is done with the wealth of an unwilling other.

    Theft.

    • KoB says:

      Spot on 11B, and word up to MI Ranger. “If you want it, here it is come and get it, but you better hurry ’cause it’s going fast.”

      And, like penguinman, what I do I know, I never attended Ranger School either. Full disclosure, 50 some odd years I did talk a Girl Scout out of her braret, err I mean Beret. (and her ahem…”cookies”)

      • rgr769 says:

        Are you implying you cajoled her into bestowing some of her special treats upon you?

        • KoB says:

          Weeeeeeeeeeeeelllll, it was kinda like this rgr769. I was just a short bread, did a little do-si-do and a tag-along. Talked her up Samoa, showed her I wasn’t a thin mint and ended up getting s’more. Was always prepared with a stick she could rub that would start her fire.

  12. OldManchu says:

    Can VoV please confirm if you wore your mask when you banged out this article? I need to know so I can safely read it or retreat.

  13. Poetrooper says:

    A noble concept, VOV, but as in many such concepts, the devils are in the details, which is why I would wager, the Founding Fathers tabled the idea for the duration.

    First, who gets to make the ground rules and set all the limits? The Feds? The states? Think maybe lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers, whatever their provenance, hmm?

    Second, how does this impact our ability to compete economically with those nations which allow wealth to continue to build? Much of the progress in the contemporary world and modern mankind was financed by the great fortunes of Europe.

    Third what about the impact on those who built lesser fortunes on the coat-tails of the massive ones? Are they sacrificed in the divestment processes? Ditto the jobs of all those without fortunes but employed by those with fortunes?

    As far as benefitting the masses, I have a sneaking suspicion that distribution of great fortunes among those masses would probably end up much like class-action lawsuits, where the lawyers and the anointed decision makers would end up with the “great” portion and the masses with meaningless pennies-on-the-dollar pittances.

    Hey, socialism, communism, fascism, etc., all look good in concept–but look how the actual practices of these wonderful economic concepts turn out.

    Because they ALWAYS end up being implemented by amoral, greedy, self-serving humans, also known as:

    Fortune builders…

    • rgr769 says:

      Having worked on a couple of them, I can assure everyone here that class action lawsuits, though conceived on noble principles, have been corrupted into an extortion racket where those harmed get little or nothing and the lawers and the settlement fund administrators take over 70% of the settlement money. Class action lawsuits also make a fortune in fees for the defense lawers.

      • Poetrooper says:

        If people only knew what constitutes a portion of a billable hour. Miz Poe, one of the first certified legal assistants in the country, with more than thirty years experience, got into a helluva hassle with her boss in a large defense firm over her unwillingness to be more “creative” with her billable hours and refusing to bill her work as his, at the higher attorney’s rate. Got her labeled as “not a team player” and ultimately unemployed.

        As I got transferred several times, she worked for several different firms, both plaintiff and defense–NONE of them were completely honest, though a couple were better than others.

  14. Ret_25X says:

    Interestingly, Marx’s writings also have their origins in both Hobbes and Locke.

    Marx ignores human nature in the search for an economic model that allows the Nietzschean “superman” to emerge.

    But Nietzsche was wrong. No superman will come forth through religious or economic struggle and all philosophy since has been a struggle to deal with this truth culminating in a full circle to Focault and the post modernists.

    What the enlightenment and Marx (and the founders) missed about human nature is that it took thousands of generations of adaptation for the behaviors and psychology of humanity to emerge and flower into the wealthy societies of today.

    Slow Joe is correct, and the founders saw this in the end (thanks to Abigail Adams). The corrective to many of the ills presented by the very wealthy is freedom and strong property rights.

    Do not enshrine the founders as the foremost philosophers in communication with a Delphic Oracle dispensing divine wisdom. Their period and fight was with a tyrannical Crown and Mercantilist economic system that transferred wealth from colonies to the Crown via Crown corporate entities like the East India Company.

    The modern equivalent is not Berkshire Hathaway or Ford, but Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac or the Federal Reserve.

    Taxing the citizens who are in the small end of the Pareto principle or denying their descendants the fruits of the labor of their family is no better than forcing people to labor for free.

    The real question to be addressed today is not how much to tax “the rich” (which always refers to income levels), but to reduce the government’s power to make and implement laws and policies that effectively transfer wealth and income from the working class to the government.

    Imagine if $3 Trillion of the $4.7 Trillion federal budget was in the private economy rather than in the government’s hands. How would that transform the lives of most Americans?

    The signal issue of our day is not income inequality, but government theft of the economy for dance theaters, parks, and nepotism. This is the source of inequality, not the fact that Fastenal pays a 4% dividend or that Warren Buffet will pass on his stock portfolio.

    This is why the Constitution passes all rights to the citizens and proscribes the powers of the government. Because over powerful and intrusive governments are the real problem. The rich would be unable to “buy” power if the agents and officials of the government had none to sell.

    This is experienced by every American as rent seeking. Whether it is wealthy ag businesses getting subsidies or cities condemning and confiscating land for a pharmaceutical, none of it could occur in a society of small and limited government.

    • Ret_25X says:

      To be fair to the founders and enlightenment philosophers, Human evolution would not be a “thing” for another 100 years and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience not for another 250.

    • Slow Joe says:

      Excellent post.

      Free market economy, Small government, and our Constitutional freedoms, which include property rights.

      Kudos on Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac and the Federal Reserve as the modern equivalent of the East India Company. I had not thought of that.

      I would like to add that corporate taxation is double taxation, and the only fair corporate tax is zero.

      Just my opinion.

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        Corporations are an artificial creation of the state.

        Originally, they too had lifespans, requiring liquidation and distribution at the end. You could create a new-same replacement, but they were not immortal.

        The owners are people, not the paper thing.

  15. Ret_25X says:

    A joke for your Friday giggles:

    Fidel Castro dies and because he thinks he is so great he goes to heaven. Once past the gates though, Saint Peter stops him and throws him out being the watchful eye he is. In hell, the Devil meets castro and gives him a warm welcome and tells his demons to get Castro’s bags and bring them to his room. Castro however forgot them in heaven and the demons promptly go to retrieve the bags. They get to heaven but the gates have already shut and the demons have to start climbing the fence to get the bags. Two Angels see this occurring and one remarks “Man, Castro isn’t in hell for 5 minutes and we’re already getting Refugees”

  16. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    What’s interesting in reading the comments is the presumption that my discussion in any way supports stripping the wealthy of the bulk of their wealth.

    At no point in the article do I mention a percentage, nor do I suggest at any point we take it all.

    I reference the founders, a few Republican presidents and as a result a few folks are convinced I’ve somehow become a communist.

    I am in simple point of fact a rather huge fan of capitalism, it’s provided me a life that one would never have predicted if you knew exactly how impoverished I was a child, without food security and without power and water fairly often due to lack of funds to cover those costs.

    I have become fairly comfortable after a long career of working my ass off and taking huge risks with my family’s future well being at various points throughout that career.

    All of that thanks to capitalism which suits the human condition far better than any other “ism” I am aware of in our history.

    What I suggest in the article is what I’ve learned in my business career with respect to obligation regarding capital improvements.

    I’m not certain what kind of businesses all of you have run or not run, but in none of my dealings has the 1.6% partner ever been responsible for more then 1.6% of the capital improvements.

    In the United States as of quarter 3/2019 the bottom 50% of the nation’s income earners held exactly 1.6% of all the nation’s wealth while the top 10% held 70% of the nation’s wealth…this is a discussion about wealth and not income.

    An important distinction if we’re discussing wealth disparity in this country.

    The accumulation of wealth across generations is a far different discussion than income and like deficit versus debt escapes far too many people’s attention.

    There is no nation in the history of the world where the top 10% to top 1% hold all of the accumulated wealth while the bottom 90% struggles with little or nothing that has lasted as a nation for any reasonable length of time.

    We can choose to ignore that reality and hope the Republic survives third world wealth disparity growing out of control here, or we can at least look at it and discuss what our options as a nation are with respect to addressing that disparity.

    If we can’t even talk about it reasonably I can assure you we can’t get to a point to address it. If we can never address it that bodes not very well for your children and grandchildren.

    While that might not matter to some folks a Republic in decline due to wealth disparity is not at all the gift I wish to leave to succeeding generations.

    • Slow Joe says:

      Well, as a SFC I am probably in the bottom 25% of the income scale, and I live like a king compared to other countries.

      And believe me, I have been to a few places to compare.

      I would say that if wealth inequality leads to such a high level of living for the bottom, I am all in favor of wealth inequality.

      As a matter of fact, all those countries were people are more equal, poor people are more poor than our poor are.

      So, I think you are looking at this the wrong way:

      1) Wealth inequality is the natural result of economic freedom in which individuals are free to pursue their interests, therefore is a good thing.

      2) Wealth inequality is a bad thing when there is NOT a equal playing field where individuals are free to pursue their goals. I.e the Soviet Union, were the nomenclature was incredible rich and powerful.

      Therefore, our goal should not be to redistribute wealth. That’s a recipe for capital flight and poverty.

      Our goal should be to ensure an equal playing field and minimize corruption.

    • Poetrooper says:

      VOV, I hope that by my mentioning socialism, communism and fascism in my comment that you do not believe that I was labeling you with any of those. I was responding to your own linking of communistic thinking with a few of the Founding Fathers and former presidents in the second paragraph of your essay.

      If memory serves the only person I’ve ever called a communist on this forum is that individual who famously doesn’t know what a communist is: Mister “Communist China Isn’t Communist!!!” You, on the other hand, I have always viewed as a truly self-made individual, a true capitalist in the very best sense of the term, the bedrock of this country.

      My reference to the “Ism’s” was to point out that those economic philosophies, all of which arose to address this very problem of the accumulation of great individual/family wealth, all tend to end up in the rubbish can of history. In spite of my personal abhorrence of such concentrations of wealth (and, trust me–I do agree with you that it IS a problem) I believe those failures tell us something about the inherent acquisitional and power-seeking nature of humankind, and why the Founding Fathers, recognizing that reality, let the matter lie.

      As for discussion, is that not what we are doing here?

      • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

        Indeed we are discussing, and you never have to worry Poe about me misunderstanding your intent.

        We’ve disagreed in the past and we’ve agreed in the past, all of that good with me.

        My point is as I’ve stated elsewhere this level of wealth disparity has had a very negative impact on our nation. That’s seen every day simply by who benefits during the pandemic versus who is being painted as the unwarranted beneficiary of the largesse of government…the few folks forced out of work by this government without due process while billionaire get a 434 billion bump to their wealth and we have people talking about those lazy good for nothing bastards getting a few hundred extra a week on unemployment.

        That’s a level of propaganda that’s absolutely stunning in it’s effectiveness and it’s messaging.

        Thank you as always for your time and your responses.

  17. OWB says:

    Wealth (be it property or $$) gained by something other than your own sweat is not earned. Dynastic transfer of someone else’s earnings due to being born into a particular family is no more justifiable than transferring wealth based upon anything else other than earning it.

    There are multiple ways of keeping family members involved in the fruits of grandpa’s labor as several commenters have already mentioned – foundations, trusts, and many others. If any of us has great amounts of capitol, it behooves us to train and educate our children how to earn theirs instead of pretending they are entitled to goodies they have not earned.

    VoV, I think a few commenters missed a key point or two that you made. Well done, and thanks.

    • Hondo says:

      So, OWB – are you also OK with the government seizing a family farm or business on the death of the owner? Or the family home on the death of a person’s aged parents? How about when a spouse dies – does the government get half then? (See the joint ownership portion below for discussion of the last eventuality.)

      Effectively, that’s what you’re advocating. Because if taxed as income for the new owner the year of receipt – or at some other high rate – very few people would have the $$$ available to pay the tax bill. My guess is that almost all would simply walk away.

      In effect, you’d have a situation where a de facto literal “death tax” confiscated almost all real estate on the death of the current owner. Within a couple of generations, it’s entirely possible that virtually ALL real estate could end up being owned by the government – as is the law in the PRC. Um, no.

      The alternative of joint ownership with children/other relatives (or a spouse) has other problems. That might allow the property in question to pass to descendants – or it might not. Whether it did would depend on the precise wording of the prospective estate tax laws – and it’s entirely possible that the surviving” joint owner(s)” would each have to pay taxes on their new share as current-year income (or at some other high rate) if the law was written to require it. It’s conceivable that even surviving spouses might not be exempted – after all, they already owned 50% so that should account for their “fair share”, right (rhetorical point, I’m not seriously advocating that)?

      Pre-death joint ownership also comes with a host of other problems. Suppose an aging relative needs to move due to physical infirmity, and has to sell the property – but at least one of the other forced joint owner(s) (so named for inheritance purposes) object? Pretty sure such an objection would block the sale. Not good.

      Finally: on a personal note, the very idea of taxing property inherited due to the death of a family member to me is repugnant in the extreme. In my book, that’s the government giving both the bereaved and the deceased the finger while simultaneously confiscating all or part of the deceased’s life’s work. To me, that is an abomination.

      Oh, and trusts and foundations would be similar targets for government confiscation most rikki-tik if this were ever implemented. They’re little-used now, but I can guarantee that they’d be a booming business if this were ever to become law – unless, of course, they were outlawed at the same time with only existing ones “grandfathered”, probably with a 1-generation sunset date.

      • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

        But if we can’t even talk about where we might draw these lines we can’t address the base issue either.

        Who said it has to be a family farm? Not me, not the founders, not Roosevelt…

        If we can’t even discuss that when Jeff Bezos dies with 60 billion if 10-40 billion of that was taxed off to the general welfare does anyone actually believe his children will suddenly be unable to shop at the Walmart?

        The idea behind a progressive system is that those in the lower tiers pay a progressively lower rate with a point below which nothing is paid.

        My point here is that as usual in this country the propaganda from the 1% is so good that the 90% can’t even discuss these issues without it devolving exactly as it has in this thread with folks accusing me of being a commie…

        • Hondo says:

          Actually, it was Jefferson who said it. Here’s the quote you used:

          “A power to dispose of estates forever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding generation can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural. There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death”

          Jefferson’s quote makes zero exceptions, and would appear to include real estate (“property” in those days generally meant real estate). Ergo, if you take it at face value, it means none of a decedent’s property – including any of their real estate and/or business concerns – should be inherited by that person’s heirs on their demise.

          By using that quote in your argument have implicitly endorsed that thesis. And since Jefferson’s argument appears to be categorical, the logical consequence of adopting it is that NOTHING passes from generation to generation. That includes large real estate holdings, industrial organizations, or stock/bond wealth – but would also logically include smaller holdings like family farms, businesses, and personal financial accounts. I was merely pointing out the logical implications of adopting Jefferson’s argument – which you appeared to advocate by quoting same.

          Sure, those in favor will say, “But we’d never come after family farms and homes.” Yeah, right. History is full of examples where government confiscation of property or liberty starts small and ends up an out-of-control monster.

          No thanks. The government does NOT need to be involved whatsoever in the disposition of my property after I’m dead. A person who’s accumulated anything during their lifetime either owns it, or he/she doesn’t. If they own it, their death should not mean that title transfers to the government.

          • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

            The government is already involved, and to the larger point none of us in the lower 90 actually “own” anything. Try not paying the crown their due on that property you “own” and see how long you can keep what you think is yours.

            I’ve perhaps not articulated my point as well as I’d hoped.

            The wealth imbalance in this country is reaching a tipping point whether you or I like it or not.

            We are entering the banana republic level of wealth disparity and that’s not going to benefit the nation at large. How we choose to address that or not defines how well the Republic weathers the future. This nation is best economically when wealth disparity is at a lower increment that it is currently. As I stated there is no nation in the history of the world where the 1% hold 90% of the wealth and that nation remains a superpower for very long if ever at all. We might prove to be the outlier, but for the 90% that might be of little benefit.

            I’ll be long dead before it becomes problematic for the nation.

            I just find it interesting we can’t even discuss what it means without the discussion devolving into a paranoia about losing everything to a government that already has everything.

            • Hondo says:

              Payment of taxes as required by law and ownership of property are separate and distinct issues. The first is required by legislative act; the second is both recognized by and protected by the US Constitution. See my comment to Old Tanker below for further discussion.

          • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

            That quote was Jefferson referencing Adam Smith, sorry if I did not make that clearer. Not Jefferson’s exact words. His letter from France to Madison reflects some of that.

        • Slow Joe says:

          VOV,

          In your Jeff Bezos example, his net worth right now is around 192 Billion according to Google.

          What you are really saying is that you want to take half of the stocks he owns, then sell it, and give the money value of those stocks to the gruberment.

          In what world is this not considered stealing?

          The gruberment does not create wealth. Only people create wealth, through investments. You take money away from people, regardless of how much, and you are diminishing the amount of those investments and limiting wealth creation, with means less taxable money for the gruberment.

          This is the reason why every single time the gruberment have lowered taxes, it has resulted in more tax income for the gruberment.

          You can look it up.
          Every singlr tax reduction has resulted in more income.

          As far as I know, taxes have been reduced only 4 times in American recent history.
          Kennedy 1960s
          Reagan 1980s
          Bush 2 2000s
          and the Trumpminator in 2017.

          • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

            At least with this response you show some understanding of what I’m suggesting.

            I’ve been a wealth creator most of my adult life Joe as an unabashed capitalist.

            I also believe that while I mortgaged my home and leveraged my savings and thus my family’s future to get where I am to finance my risk that I am not singularly responsible for my success.

            The people who worked for and with me, the local governments that supported my startup, the infrastructure that other taxpayers put into place all had a hand in that success. Do I owe them nothing? Do I say fuck you I got what I got if you can’t get here that’s your problem?

            Or do I as Roosevelt (Teddy) opined have a moral obligation to my country and my society to share my good fortune?

            My point in all this Joe is that we can’t even discuss this without name calling and derision.

            In reality however there is no nation in the history of the world that survives for long when a few dozen families possess all the wealth of the nation. However you want to see that reality is up to you.

            There will be a price for the Republic to pay for that kind of disparity. You already see it every day in DC.

            You know it’s a problem when we’ve had money to burn for a 19 year war, and while we transferred 100s of billions upwards during this pandemic people are actually fighting over some of those forced out of work without due process getting a few thousand extra…

            The billionaires got 434 billion dollars richer during the pandemic. That’s due to a corporate wealth transfer upwards. Corporate welfare if you will, unearned by hard work but given due to the influence of those billionaires over our government.

            That’s a level of corruption unimaginable to our founders and even presidents of the last century.

            But it is happening regardless of whether or not you believe I’m a commie because I simply asked whether or not this notion of taxing the rich is problematic.

            • Mason says:

              The people who worked for and with me, the local governments that supported my startup, the infrastructure that other taxpayers put into place all had a hand in that success. Do I owe them nothing? Do I say fuck you I got what I got if you can’t get here that’s your problem?

              I recall the most recent president saying something similar. 😉

            • Hondo says:

              Or do I as Roosevelt (Teddy) opined have a moral obligation to my country and my society to share my good fortune?

              You already have, VOV. The government mandated you do exactly that.

              First: I’d guess you’re successful enough that you make a good living. Through the discriminatory nature of progressive taxation, you’ve been mandated by the Federal and your state government to provide, involuntarily, more of your income to be used by said governments “for the common good” than others are required to do. Why? In nice-sounding terms, you’re told it’s “Because you can afford it.” The real reason? “Because it raises more taxes from a small number of people, thus creating less of a problem than a general tax increase. And we can make you pay.”

              Second: your business has assets and inventory. I’d guess Taxachusettes assesses you taxes on each of those. And assuming you or your business own real property, you’re paying taxes on those too. People who don’t own a business or real property don’t pay those taxes.

              Third: you’re likely smart enough that your business is structured as a corporation (if for no other reason than to avoid personal liability in the event of a claim against the business). That means your business is also paying corporate income taxes.

              Fourth: by its existence your business is providing employment, presumably at better than minimum wage, for people. Those jobs would not exist if your business did not exist.

              Fifth: can you say “employer portion of FICA taxes”? Sure. I knew you could.

              Sixth: can you say “unemployment taxes, which are assessed only on the employer”? I knew you could say that, too.

              Seventh: can you say “employer share of medical insurance costs”?

              Eighth: how about the cost of employee benefits other than medical insurance?

              I could go on, but I think you get my point. You’re paying a LOAD of taxes and/or other costs that “those less fortunate” may well not even know exist. And those outlays primarily benefit others vice yourself (though they do also help attract quality workers, so you do receive some benefit as well).

              Hey, if you want to do more, send the Federal government and Massachusetts some extra coin each tax year as a donation. I know the US Treasury accepts donations, and I’d be willing to bet the state of Massachusetts does too. Give to a charity. Start a charity. Work with youth (which I’m pretty sure you already do, based on past comments you’ve made).

              But don’t demand that others be stripped of some or all of the results of their hard work simply because THEY are also successful and you feel “they haven’t done enough”.

              • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

                Now dagnabbit I was having a pretty good Friday until you so eloquently reminded of my current tax burdens…

                I don’t disagree with that assessment, I’ve not the burden of billions…I’m in the good living category as you suggest nestled comfortable in the top 15% or so…but so are a fair amount of my fellow Americans.

                It remains in my head that the massive wealth disparity will not be a boon to this nation. I hope to be proven wrong, but the consistent movement of wealth to a smaller and smaller group of people never bodes well for any nation or its society.

                • Hondo says:

                  Hey, at least I didn’t remind you that the top 1% of taxpayers pay more in individual Federal income taxes (38.5% of the total) than the bottom 90% of taxpayers combined (<30%). Or that the top 10% of taxpayers pay 70+% of all individual income taxes paid in the US.

                  Oh, hell - I guess I just did. (smile)

                  https://taxfoundation.org/summary-of-the-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2020-update/

                  • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

                    Of course that top 1% also owns more than the bottom 90% combined so fair’s fair I guess…

                    • Hondo says:

                      Apples and oranges, amigo. One can be “wealthy” on paper but have a relatively paltry income. (Ask a farmer or rancher whose land is worth a few million about that. At the US average of $4100/acre, it doesn’t take all that much cropland to be worth literally millions). Conversely, one can also have a huge income and little net worth (due to either profligate spending or a large existing debt).

                      The former group gets lumped in the lower half of taxpayers and pays a relatively small amount in taxes in spite of the fact that they’re “wealthy”. The latter group goes into that infamous “1%” of taxpayers and pays dearly in taxes – even if they have close to zero net worth.

                      Wealth and income are often connected, but that’s not always the case.

      • OWB says:

        Nope. I am not advocating that anybody or anything get that which they have not earned, with a few exceptions for us as a society taking care of those who are unable (as opposed to unwilling) to take care of themselves. (We can argue at another time whether that should be a function of government or the private sector. For this discussion, all I am acknowledging is that there will always be some among us who are unable to earn their own keep and we as a society are morally obligated to care for them somehow.)

        I also find the concept of forced sale of family property to pay any entity repugnant. That it would be to pay a government entity is even more repulsive to me. And, yes, I have seen it happen on several occasions. Usually it was due to the original owner not making fairly simple arrangements to avoid it – but then, isn’t that the right of whoever earned it in the first place? Descendents may or may not have done anything to earn the inheritance, and who gets the property is legimately the decision of the one who did.

        That’s all I’m saying.

        But back to VoV’s original point – it’s out of whack, and not healthy for this country, for so much power and influence to reside among so few people. Some of us would articulate that as too much government and in any number of other ways. However you look at it, we are out of balance.

  18. Old tanker says:

    Outside of your cash or liquid assets folks in the US do not really own real property. It is owned by the county / parish and to a smaller degree the Federal Govt. Why do I say that? Because the power to dispose of property no matter whose name is on the rolls of the registrars office is in the realm of those govt. agencies. They wield the non ending power to dispose of the real property, no matter how many times it changes hands. In very real terms the land folks like to say they own is actually merely rented from those govt. agencies. Think I am wrong? Try not paying your property tax (in effect rent) and watch what happens. The real owners will remove you from the property and redistribute it to other renters. No person really owns the land they reside on.

    • OWB says:

      Indeed. We simply lease/rent the property. All real estate and, depending, perhaps personal property as well. We buy and maintain it, but must pay some political subdivision to make any alteratons to it and annual fees to pretend to have some control over its use.

    • Hondo says:

      Bull.

      What you say is true in the PRC, whose Constitution forbids the private ownership of land. In contrast, our Constitution actually includes both the concept of private ownership property (real and other) and substantial protection against government seizure of private property (see the last clause of the 5th Amendment).

      Further: by your logic, you don’t own your financial assets either (including cash). Why? Because the government can – as they have when they implemented property taxes – pass a law allowing the government to confiscate part or all of it for a violation of law (remember: payment of taxes is required by law). In fact, they’ve already done so (see “fines”).

      A “renter” does not have the right to permanently dispose of rental property. In contrast, a property owner does. Property owners have the right to sell or give away their property, just as you have the right to sell or give away your cash or other liquid assets. In either case, you’ll still be required to pay whatever taxes are due or were in arrears at the time – but that’s a completely separate issue from ownership.

      In short: by your logic, the government owns everything; they just let you use it as they see fit. Marx and his followers would approve.

      • Old tanker says:

        I was not praising the situation. I was denouncing it. Reality may not be pleasant but that does not change the situation. As to sale of property (real estate) the situation we have now is similar to subletting. The current renter is simply allowing a substitute renter to take over the payments (property taxes etc.) after paying a substantial sum for the “privilege”. While “renter” one has removed the property from his / her responsibility it is still under the control of the real owner, the taxing entities.

        Those who can reclaim the property from those who are on it are the true owners by virtue of that power. Doesn’t make it right and I decry it but that happens to be the situation. as it exists.

  19. Poetrooper says:

    Other than perhaps organized religion, no issue has generated more discussion, more loss of life and more destruction than mankind’s multiple attempts to correct the imbalance of wealth and power within societies.

    As his own essay attests, it is the simmering dumpster fire of human history and our very own VOV just strolled by and tossed in a can of high octane…

    😜😜😜😜

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      It’s tough work but someone has to do it my friend…

      I blame AW1ED for encouraging my peculiar rants…