A Billionaire With A Conscience?

I have written often about the income disparity between the 1% and the rest of us, and I’m often critical of millionaires and billionaires for hoarding their wealth when children are dying every day for lack of food, medicine and hygiene.  Today I came across an OpEd in the New York Times by a millionaire who is a bit different than most, Eli Broad.  While I do not agree 100% with everything Mr. Broad says, what he proposes is a start, a step in the right direction.  Mr. Broad has an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, so he can well afford a bit of philanthropy and a higher tax rate.  If we must have millionaires and billionaires, at least let them have a conscience. Take a look …

I’m in the 1 Percent. Please, Raise My Taxes.

Wealthy people like me should commit to reducing the ravages of economic inequality.

By Eli Broad

Eli-Broad.jpgThere’s a story we like to tell about American capitalism. Ours is a country that prizes merit, rewards risk and stands apart in its commitment to the collective success of open markets and the free flow of capital. We are a nation of strivers who can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps with the right combination of grit and determination.

That’s the tale we love to tell and hear. But take it from a person who has found himself on the fortunate side of that narrative: This story is incomplete. For most people, our system isn’t working.

I say this as the child of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania who came here with little more than an oversize belief in what America could offer. Their faith was well placed: My parents watched me build two Fortune 500 companies and become one of the wealthiest people in the country.

Two decades ago I turned full-time to philanthropy and threw myself into supporting public education, scientific and medical research, and visual and performing arts, believing it was my responsibility to give back some of what had so generously been given to me. But I’ve come to realize that no amount of philanthropic commitment will compensate for the deep inequities preventing most Americans — the factory workers and farmers, entrepreneurs and electricians, teachers, nurses and small-business owners — from the basic prosperity we call the American dream.

Some of us have supported closing the gulf between rich and poor by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, reforming our education system, expanding access to medical care, building more affordable housing.

But even in cities like my adopted hometown, Los Angeles, where many of these policies have been enacted, they have not adequately addressed the crisis. Our country must do something bigger and more radical, starting with the most unfair area of federal policy: our tax code.

It’s time to start talking seriously about a wealth tax.

Some will say I’m calling for the populist masses to take out the pitchforks and take down the titans of Wall Street. Some will say it’s just too difficult to execute. Others will call it a flight of fancy.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating an end to the capitalist system that’s yielded some of the greatest gains in prosperity and innovation in human history. I simply believe it’s time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else.

This does not mean I support paying higher taxes without requiring government to be transparent, accountable and equitable about how it spends the revenue, particularly for health care, public education and other programs critical to social and economic mobility. But let’s end this tired argument that we must delay fixing structural inequities until our government is running as efficiently as the most profitable companies. That’s a convenient tactic employed to distract us from the real problems.

The enormous challenges we face as a nation — the climate crisis, the shrinking middle class, skyrocketing housing and health care costs, and many more — are a stark call to action. The old ways aren’t working, and we can’t waste any more time tinkering around the edges.

Democrats have offered an array of plans. Senator Elizabeth Warren would levy a 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million. There’s an overdue proposal from Senator Bernie Sanders to increase taxes on estates and inheritances. And then there’s the mark-to-market approach proposed by Senator Ron Wyden, which would treat capital gains income as what it is — actual income for the wealthiest people in America. Currently people who have stocks and other investments that appreciate in value — usually people of means — are taxed at lower rates and are allowed to defer taxes.

I’m not an economist but I have watched my wealth grow exponentially thanks to federal policies that have cut my tax rates while wages for regular people have stagnated and poverty rates have increased.

So when the Democratic candidates take the stage this week for their first debate, I invite fellow members of the 1 percent to join me in demanding that they engage in a robust discussion of how we can strengthen a post-Trump America by reforming our tax code.

Let’s admit out loud what we all know to be true: A wealth tax can start to address the economic inequality eroding the soul of our country’s strength. I can afford to pay more, and I know others can too. What we can’t afford are more shortsighted policies that skirt big ideas, avoid tough issues and do little to alleviate the poverty faced by millions of Americans. There’s no time to waste.

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56 thoughts on “A Billionaire With A Conscience?

      • Hello Jill. Please excuse any typos I have a cat in my arms. It is OK. What happens some times is I get so excited and on a roll to respond to stuff I make my response and hit send, then in an attempt to get back to the same page to read / respond to other comments I don’t wait but start hitting the back button. That seems to keep my comment from being posted which I don’t see as I am taken back to the post to read and respond to other comments. Dang this is painful trying type over Milo who is asleep in my arms with his head buried in the crook of my arm. I want meds that take cat / computer desk troubles away. He refuses to move no matter how I shake or disturb him. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ha ha … you are more patient than I, for I toss the kitty back onto the floor if he or she interferes with my typing! Did I tell you that we had to have one of ours put to sleep last month? It was Princess Nala, the oldest, and it was a sad time. But, she had suffered long enough with inoperable tumours, and it was time. So now, we are down to 5 kitties. I have done the exact same thing before on comments! I think our brain gets ahead of our fingers! Hugs!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hello Jill. I read about Princess Nala. I was saddened on one hand she had run her race yet also glad she was not suffering. I think death with dignity is a right and it is a gift we can give our friends when they are suffering with no hope of getting better. Having rescued older cats that no one wanted we have faced that dilemma before. You are a loving caregiver and I respect that.
            Milo started trying to get me up this morning at 4 AM. first walking on me, pushing my head and then when that did not work sitting just out of arm’s reach and howling. As soon as I got up he was fine and happy. Needless to say I was not impressed. Hugs

            Liked by 2 people

              • Hello Jill. I am allergic to the cats. One of the shots I get weekly is for them. However I have let them sleep with me from the first days and I can not change that now. So as Milo sleeps on my pillow either next to or against my head ( he likes to be touching me with his paws or body ) I have to change my pillow cases every two days or I have trouble breathing at night. Yes they are spoiled and I am a well trained servant. Hugs

                Liked by 2 people

                  • Hello Sklawlor. Yes. I have gotten out of bed where I was sharing my pillow with Milo. When I come back a few minutes later he has spread over the entire pillow, and squawks in disgust when I make him push over. I had a terrible time at first with my two because they want to lay on my legs. I can’t have that as it is very painful. But now they find other ways to push on me and touch me. Another thing. At 2:20 AM I was awakened by Milo throwing up on the floor, which was something he normally tries to do on my pillow. I got up and turned a light on and cleaned it up. Surprising hubby never seems to hear when one of the cats throws up, and can sleep right through it. 😄😃😻 Hugs

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  1. Hurray for Eli Broad! Hats off. Tax reform is key. But the people, the 99%, should be demanding taxation of capital gains and offshore accounts. Not the 1%, who can’t be expected to all be as decent as Broad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Jill. Other countries have shown that you can tax wealth and the wealthy along with corporations more and still have a great economy and plenty of social services. These countries decided to put the good of all the people before the greed of a minority. These countries prove the claim of needing low to no tax rates are false. They also are nations with the highest satisfaction rates. The people in the US have been sold a false idea of trickle down economics and that cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy is the way to prosperity, placing the tax burden of funding the government on the lowest earning people. It is a scam as much as the prosperity gospel movement is, with their uber wealthy pastors asking for poor people to buy them another private jet. It has been trotted out every two years since Reagan and it still has not worked. If it did we wouldn’t need to keep trying it. It is well known that there is a subset of people in the US who want to shrink government to the point they can drown it in a bathtub as Grover Norquist said. They want to over fund the military and give as much of the treasury away so they then can claim the government has no funds to do any social programs. The US doesn’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. If we had the Bush tax cuts back combined with the tRump tax cuts we would be able to pay for many of the programs we not only have and also pay for increases in Social Security and Medicare / Medicaid. Plus not have such a huge debt with interest payments sucking up even more of the budget. The US military is larger than the next 7 of the largest countries combined. That was before the last two years of huge billions of increases. That spending takes a huge amount of our countries budget and deprives the society of many safety net programs. Again this is a case of not making enough income to pay living expenses and being told you have too extravagant a life style and need to cut back. That by the way is what one corporate executive told a congress woman people today need to do if they can not make it on minimum wage. Again it is not a spending problem the US has it is a problem of giving the treasury away instead of using it to care for society. Hugs
    Ps. What the heck do we need that large a military for? To start wars? To interfere in the sovereign rights of other countries? We do not need such a large force to protect our country if we are not planning on taking over the world. Hugs

    Liked by 4 people

    • As Elizabeth Warren said at the beginning of last night’s debate … our economy is great — for the wealthy, but it isn’t working at all for the rest of us. You are right that it has been proven over and over that in an economy where everyone pays his fair share, it works for everyone and the nation overall is much happier, more stable and secure. But, in this nation, we worship wealth. Not only that, but we have downgraded our education system to the point that we now have adult citizens who are not capable of understanding that they are being fed a line of b.s. when they are told how great the economy is, and how if we give more money to the rich and the corporations, they will share it with us low-lifes. Ignorance is going to be our downfall. To me, hoarding money is a crime when people are going to bed hungry just a few miles from those mansions on a hill. Sigh. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Jill. We think alike you and I. I worry though that this situation is taking a toll on our health personally and on the nation as a whole. I just read that people are becoming desensitized to tRump’s antics and are tuning out when it comes up. More than just becoming normalized, people just can not bear to hear it anymore. Hopelessness is setting in. Please take care of yourself, we need your strong voice in this fight for saving our nation. Hugs

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        • You’re right, Scottie … you and I do see things much the same, think the same, and share the same values, and you are also right when you say it is taking a toll on our health. I have told my daughter that if I died of any stress-related illness while Trump is still in office, I want her to get a good lawyer and sue the U.S. government, Trump himself, and the Department of Justice. Sigh. People tell me to step back from it for a few days, but it’s like an addiction … I cannot. I have to fight … no more knitting sweaters for this old lady! But thank you so much for caring, and for your wonderfully kind words. I’ll be right by your side, fighting the good fight, my friend. Hugs!

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  3. Tom Steyer is another “billionaire with a conscience,” better known than Eli Broad because of his TV ads opposing Trump. I think Steyer, Broad, Buffet, Gates, and other like-minded billionaires should get their heads together to come up with funding and a comprehensive strategy to elect not only a Democratic President, but a ‘bullet-proof majority of Democrats to Congress and the Senate in 2020. That is the only way such proposals as discussed here will become a reality.

    Liked by 5 people

    • You are quite right! For some reason, I always forget about Tom Steyer. I like your idea of them all getting their heads together to help overthrow the current ‘reign of terror’ at the polls next year. Sadly, most uber-wealthy people tend to be republicans. Gee, I wonder why that is? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, Eli Broad has been at this for awhile. Warren Buffett has said similar things, plus he and Bill Gates have challenged billionaires to donate 1/2 their wealth and many have. In contrast, a certain politician had his Foundation seized for using the funds for business and personal purposes. Keith

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, I have done ‘good people’ posts on Bill and Melinda Gates, and another one or two who have signed on to The Giving Pledge. We just need more to open their eyes, to see the huge gap between those who have millions or billions and those who barely manage to pay the rent and buy food. It seems to me that most of them are so high in their ivory towers that they cannot see the rest of us struggling.

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  5. Yes Jill, there are some of them out there. Not enough of course. But, it’s nice to see and hear. To the right-wing of course, he’s a crackpot. How dare he actually advocate for higher taxes? What the hell is wrong with him? Oh well, we need more from guys like him. I admire him for sticking his neck out a bit.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Pingback: A Billionaire With A Conscience? – MemePosts

    • Yes, I was impressed with what he said, and the only point I would argue is that we should keep our uncontrolled capitalistic system, for I think that is the biggest obstacle to reducing the income gap. There are a handful of billionaires who realize there are people on this earth who barely have enough to eat, but sadly they are in the minority.

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  7. Hurrah! Finally someone who sounds genuine. The world definitely needs more people like Mr. Eli Broad. This does not alleviate my disdain for capitalism, I still believe it has to go. But if someone could implement a sustainable wealth tax, like 30% of earned income and 50% of interest and capital gains, etc., that would go a long way to decreasing income inequality while decreasing the budget debtload. Funding of social programmes could be effective rather than stopgap/band-aid. Education could afford better teachers, and free post-secondary education/training. The 99% might feel like they matter for once, and them maybe, just maybe, America could call itself great–and mean it.
    Count 1, now we need 9,999 more.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That was just what I said in my comment to Scott … I think that as long as we have an unregulated capitalistic system, there will be greed, cheating, thievery, and all of that will keep the economic disparity not much better than it is now. I wonder what it is that gives Mr. Broad such a different attitude from most other billionaires?

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      • On a guess, I think he did not start out to become a billionaire, he just wanted a better lufe than his parents had. He wss very successful at it. He knows he made his money on the backs of wage-slaves, and he probably remembers when he was one. I presume he was a benevolent employer. But now with the new tax deal, he sees he is making money he doesn’t feel he is earning. He even says his fortune is growing faster than ever before. So he wants to give back more.
        Just a guess, but I think a good one.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I agree … and that rather clarifies, in part, what separates the billionaires with a social conscience from those who have none. Those born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths have never known anything but wealth and privilege and really don’t bother to look outside of their own little world. But, those who earned their wealth, who actually lived in the real world at one time, perhaps remember there are other people outside their ivory tower.


    • Mostly, I think, his support of capitalism, for my own belief is that human nature being what it is, uncontrolled capitalism will always lead to greed, cheating, thievery, and thus severe income inequality. Other than that, I applaud what he says, his views and only wish the rest of the billionaires felt the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I like what Mr. Broad says…..but Jill, he is extremely unique among wealthy people. Perish the thought that the top 1% should learn how to get by on fewer designer clothes, selling the house on the Hamptons, divesting of the private jet and – God forbid – Junior going to a commoner’s college rather than Harvard. And trump giving up his gold (real gold, not Home Depot fakes) bathroom fixtures would be an attack on wealthy privilege. Ahhh, it is a pipe dream that Mr. Broad suggests and I wonder what kind of pipe he is smoking. Of course, on the bright side, in his futuristic vision, guys like me could conduct online courses on how to survive on $8400 a year. Too pessimistic? No, just realistic about the real world controlled by real greed.

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    • You’re right … he is a rarity. I can count on one hand the billionaires I am aware of who are generous with their wealth … Steve & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros … and … um … that’s a wrap! Yes, there are others, but those have done more to help the condition of the world than Trump and all his cronies ever thought about doing. Trump’s “foundation” was not much more than a way to filter money without paying taxes on it. The DeVos foundation has done nothing to help the people who need it, but rather they fund things that benefit the wealthy more than any others. Junior went to Harvard??? How did he even get in??? No, you’re not being a pessimist, but you are like me … a pragmatist. Still, I do think the wealthy are going to have to lose those tax cuts they got in 2017, for this nation is already essentially bankrupt and we cannot afford to have corporations like Amazon not paying a damn dime in taxes! Hugs!

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      • our nation is bankrupt and one of the biggest problems is the addiction to spending that congress has. over 22 trillion dollars, not all of that or the majority of it can be traced to corporations not paying taxes. Sure, they can pay more, everyone can pay more but until our government addresses the issue of out-of-control spending, it would be like using a cup to bail water out of a boat with a hole in the bottom. Look at all the pork projects that congressmen sign off on to benefit their districts simply so they can get reelected? There’s tons of information about how wasteful governmental departments are with the money they’ve been given charge over and none of that waste is because money isn’t coming in.

        Liked by 2 people

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