Patriotic Millionaires

January 31, 2016

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I have joined a group which calls itself “Patriotic Millionaires.” Please take a look at our website. There is a financial qualification on the website, but we are self policing. No-one needs to send in their financial statement or their tax return.

Here is what we stand for:

  • A fairer tax system that includes greater tax obligations for millionaires and major corporations who have benefitted the most from the nation’s resources;
  • Higher incomes, beginning with a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, for wage earners, who are the foundation of our nation’s economy; and
  • Less political influence for those whose sole credential is the ability to pay for it.

So far, the young organization has only 200 members, but we’re growing!

Our target audience is two-fold, as I see it: We hope for media attention that will influence politicians and legislators with the message that many people who are successful want more balance. That’s because we have the impression that politicians only pay attention to the wealthy. Secondly, we certainly hope a lot more of the wealthy of our country will consider that life will be better for all, including the wealthy, if we can all share a bit more in our prosperity. And, of course, we hope the less wealthy will rise up and vote for change.

Many members don’t like the name, Patriotic Millionaires, because the use of “Millionaires” may sound elitist. However, the consensus is that the message we’re trying to send may be best served by the name–essentially, that there are many of us who have some wealth, who feel we want a system that is less generous to the rich and more generous to the rest. In other words, we recognize that we have a  moral and also a national sustainability obligation to re-establish a fairer economic system.

As to being a “millionaire,” CNBC says there are about 7 million of us. A million certainly isn’t what it used to be. Last meeting I suggested we should be trying to recruit some of the ultra-rich, where personal wealth starts with a “B.”

Various members I have met have other agenda.  One person is also concerned with how our voting process is constructed. Another, similarly, very concerned with gerrymandering. Another with education inequality. Another with more generalized differences in opportunity. Another with discrimination in race and gender. So far, everything I heard can fall under an overall “umbrella” we can call “inequality.”I’m certainly on the lower end of financial qualification to be a member, but I completely identify with the agenda and sympathize with the concerns of other members I have met.

I think of it this way: We are just citizens who feel we have had some success in this country and know we didn’t do it alone. We recognize we had help along the way. We recognize that taxes are necessary to pay for the services and the legislative and legal structure of our country. These things are essential to assuring a healthy and fair economy and country.

To me, it doesn’t matter whether you define your success with the financial criteria of Patriotic Millionaires. What matters is that you have had some success by your own measure. You may be a veterinarian, a young engineer, a young professional in any industry. You may be an electrician or a plumber, or a university professor. If you feel the country has been good to you, if you recognize that you needed help along the way and it was valuable to you, and especially if you know that our government is critical in so many ways in order to assure that kind of opportunity for all, then I’m with you. It’s people like us who have to stand up and make sure our political process and our governance is re-directed to assure a fairer future.

To me, it doesn’t matter whether you are one of the 7 million or not. If you see your life and our country this way, then you’re on our side of this battle to adjust the balance of power in our country. Patriotic Millionaires is one of the growing number of organizations rising up to raise political attention and objection to the dangerous trends in our economy.

The members of this group (and many others) do understand that. And, we understand that to simply keep reducing taxes and continually shrinking government is a recipe for disaster–and we’re already way down that track. The ultimate destination of that process is a nation of few oligarchs who set all the rules of the economy for their own benefit. The ultimate destination is growing discontent leading to protest and revolution.

To believe in the importance of government doesn’t mean that any of us fail to see that there is enormous inefficiency in government, that there is egregious waste. All of that deserves re-engineering, a thorough makeover. However, in the absence of any politician offering even an approach to that, the answer cannot be to simply shrink government. Not even the super rich really want to see that happen. Believe it or not, there are some of those who feel as we do.

And those of us with wealth will not be strong enough to change the system. We need a lot more than 7 million votes to do that.  We need the vast middle class and the poor to know there are a growing number of the more privileged who agree with them that the system needs to be changed.

 

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