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Excessive wealth

from Ken Zimmerman (originally a comment)

Following the ‘Great Depression’ excessive wealth required justification. Otherwise those who possessed it were looked on as freeloaders and featherbedders who played no or little useful part in society. FDR came from one of America’s wealthiest family’s but proved himself by his work ethic, care for ordinary Americans, and work to save the USA. Even the wealthy who wanted to be ostentatious feared public rebuke and legal punishments if they focused solely on protecting their wealth. At best excessive wealth was tolerated but seldom glorified, at least publicly. Mostly Americans found their heroes elsewhere.

Second, WWII reinforced the notion that in winning wars, protecting democracy, ensuring an economy that is both successful and good for all Americans the wealthy are not required and often an impairment for these goals. Particularly economic equity.

Third, the tax code, while not outlawing great wealth accumulation did ensure that accumulation was clearly limited and the wealthy’s tax rate was the highest with few escape routes.

All this began to change in the late 1970s. This effort was and is deliberate, cynical, funded by the politically right wing wealthy, and decidedly anti-democratic. Today, the totalitarian propaganda of this effort is almost impossible to escape.

  1. May 30, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    I have just finished reading The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter and would encourage others to read it too. It is over 600 pages linking his ideas to FDR.

  2. deshoebox
    May 31, 2021 at 2:46 am

    We should empathize with the obscenely wealthy. I think it was Michael Hudson who said that when you have 100 million or so your IQ drops at least 30 percent. If we assume a negative linear relationship of wealth and intelligence it follows that billionaires are all morons. This may be a slight exaggeration but so far there is very little evidence that any billionaire is capable of making a decision that benefits the mass of humanity. Has anyone researched the relationship of morality and vast piles of unearned wealth? Perhaps not, but it might be worth looking into.

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