To Strengthen American Democracy & Restore the Middle Class, Return to Taxing the Rich

Thom plus logo The Guardian is reporting that Trump's Postmaster Louis DeJoy basically ripped off his brother to steal the company they had inherited from their father. Sort of like the way The New York Times reported that Donald Trump and his brother Robert conspired to rip off their brother Fred's estate and commit massive tax fraud by illegally stealing hundreds of millions of dollars out of their dad's estate.

These rich men who inherited their wealth from their parents and then turned into, essentially, monsters are the best evidence we need for a meaningful estate tax.

Republican President Teddy Roosevelt pointed to this phenomenon, saying "The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and... a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."

Wealth and income inequality in America is worse than any other developed country in the world, and the well-documented result is a wide variety of social ills from increased crime and drug addiction to the destruction of the middle class.

Even worse, as the income and wealth of average people collapses, so does their ability to influence politics. Wealth inequality severely damages democracy.

When Ronald Reagan dropped the top into the income tax rate from 74% to 25%, and radically cut the inheritance tax rate, he set in motion a 40 year process that has devastated the American working class and made the top 1% fabulously more rich than they were before.

There was no shortage of rich people in America in 1980, but the high marginal tax rates on both income and inherited wealth, in place for two generations, prevented them from becoming morbidly rich. Reagan put an end to all that, so now fewer than half of Americans are in the middle class and the vast majority of Americans cannot deal with an unexpected $1000 expense.

If we want to recover democracy in this country, bring back the middle class and reduce a whole spectrum of social ills we need to push both the top estate and top income tax marginal rates back above 50%.


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