The Unfair Advantage
Posted on Friday, February 24th 2012 at 10:35 am
On CNN this morning they were talking about Mitt Romney's new tax proposal. Kyra Phillips and the reporter were bantering about the Romney's proposal to end the death tax. The reporter said "many Americans have a problem with the idea of wealth being passed on to people that haven't earned it. This creates generational wealth." Isn't this the American Dream? That you can work hard and put your kids in a better place so that they could advance in society and carve out a legacy for their kids? My mother's grandparents did that in 1850's when they came from Norway to clear land in Minnesota and farm. The Irish did that during the potato famine during the same time and the Italians around the turn of the century. They all came here with nothing and were dirt farmers, laborers and street sweepers because they had a dream that was uniquely American. That's all well and good until you succeed, then its' not fair.
I remember discovering I wasn't dumb when I was in eighth grade. I was a C student and a "day dreamer" (if I grew up today they probably would have diagnosed me as ADHD). We took an IQ test. I was called into the office after they got the results and grilled about how I cheated on the test. They didn't believe that a poor student like me could score in the top 5% of the school. But, there is a lot of difference between someone in the 95th percentile and the 99th percentile. The distance between me and the top 1 % (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Soros and Warren Buffet etc.) is light years and billions of dollars. Now how is it fair that they have that much brain power and I don't? Certainly this unfair advantage should be mitigated in some way and brain power redistributed more "fairly".
If you invent a product, create and idea or just work hard and succeed you should be applauded and admired. The rest of us benefit from those that create jobs and everyone's standard of living rises, as John F. Kennedy said "when the tide rises, all boats rise". Your boat may not be as big as Bill Gates', but you are floating. And when you die you should be able to pass on your wealth to your heirs. What they do with it is none of our business. Some will build on it and others will squander it. What does it matter? The core issue to this obsession in our culture over the 1% and "fairness" is covetousness. It bears repeating what the 10th commandment says; it is sin to covet our neighbor's wife, home or anything that is our neighbors. That includes coveting what their kids will inherit.