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GOD vs. Greed

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Fourth, let's look at OUR role as individuals.

        For centuries, there was very little that most individuals could do to make any significant changes in the world, unless they happened to be among the very few in positions of authority.
        All that could be done for the vast majority of mankind who were powerless to do much about their oppression at the hands of those more powerful than themselves was to give them hope that there was a better life awaiting them on the other side of death.

Fifth, let's look at OUR role as citizens of America .

Ever since the emergence of democracies, people like you and me have NOT been mere powerless cogs in the machinery of world life.  Fifty years ago and more adults were often heard to say in desperation, "You can't fight city hall" (i.e. the government).  And that was true, so long as one fought alone.  But when people learned that "in union there is strength", they proved that you can not only fight, but you can defeat governments all the way from city hall to the White House.
        People in power know just how powerful little people can be if and when they get organized.  When you hear people talk of getting organized to fight people in power, you might immediately think of "labor unions".  But there are larger, and more important, unions in the world, namely democracies themselves.  In countries like America, to the extent that they really ARE democracies, the government is a "union" of the entire voting population, organized according to rules they themselves have legislated, to elect people to various offices in order to represent them in the legislation they debate and pass, the judgements they pass down and the administration of the laws passed.  This system doesn't work perfectly – no system involving human beings does – , but it makes individuals far more powerful and influential than they would be otherwise.
        But it alsomakes them responsiblefor the policies and actions of their government.  And thatis why Christians who belong to powerful democracies like America have an obligation to support public officials who do a better job of "following the Manufacturer's Instructions" and to oppose those who don't.  See our www.LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/Democrats for good historical examples of what we mean.

The way conservative economists view people

David Ricardo may not be as well known as Adam Smith, but the writings of this conservative peer of his has had a great influence on economists ever since the early 1800's. Here is a sample of the way such economic "scientists" view "labor", i.e. not as fellow human beings, but more like germs in a petrie dish :

"On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation" (1817)
Chapter 5: "On Wages"

DavidRicardo         Labour, like all other things which are purchased and sold, and which may be increased or diminished in quantity, has its natural and its market price. The natural price of labour is that price which is necessary to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution.
        The power of the labourer to support himself, and the family which may be necessary to keep up the number of labourers, does not depend on the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but on the quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences become essential to him from habit, which that money will purchase. The natural price of labour, therefore, depends on the price of the food, necessaries, and conveniences required for the support of the labourer and his family. With a rise in the price of food and necessaries, the natural price of labour will rise; with the fall in their price, the natural price of labour will fall.
        With the progress of society the natural price of labour has always a tendency to rise, because one of the principal commodities by which its natural price is regulated, has a tendency to become dearer, from the greater difficulty of producing it. As, however, the improvements in agriculture, the discovery of new markets, whence provisions may be imported, may for a time counteract the tendency to a rise in the price of necessaries, and may even occasion their natural price to fall, so will the same causes produce the correspondent effects on the natural price of labour.
        The natural price of all commodities, excepting raw produce and labour, has a tendency to fall, in the progress of wealth and population; for though, on one hand, they are enhanced in real value, from the rise in the natural price of the raw material of which they are made, this is more than counterbalanced by the improvements in machinery, by the better division and distribution of labour, and by the increasing skill, both in science and art, of the producers.
        The market price of labour is the price which is really paid for it, from the natural operation of the proportion of the supply to the demand; labour is dear when it is scarce, and cheap when it is plentiful. However much the market price of labour may deviate from its natural price, it has, like commodities, a tendency to conform to it.
        It is when the market price of labour exceeds its natural price, that the condition of the labourer is flourishing and happy, that he has it in his power to command a greater proportion of the necessaries and enjoyments of life, and therefore to rear a healthy and numerous family. When, however, by the encouragement which high wages give to the increase of population, the number of labourers is increased, wages again fall to their natural price, and indeed from a re-action sometimes fall below it.
        When the market price of labour is below its natural price, the condition of the labourers is most wretched: then poverty deprives them of those comforts which custom renders absolute necessaries. It is only after their privations have reduced their number, or the demand for labour has increased, that the market price of labour will rise to its natural price, and that the labourer will have the moderate comforts which the natural rate of wages will afford."

{ The following Editorial was published in the Christmas 2001 issue of the New York Times.  Although George Bush has since replaced Paul O'Neill with a different Treasury Secretary, the views of the new one don't appear to differ much from those of Mr. O'Neill : }
The Scrooge Syndrome
December 25, 2001
By Paul Krugman

        "Bah, humbug!" cried the U.S. treasury secretary.  O.K., Paul O'Neill didn't actually say "Bah."  But last week he contemptuously dismissed proposals for increased aid to poor nations.  And his justification – that he "would like to see evidence of what works before making new commitments" – was pure humbug.
        For the truth is that we already know what works.  Nobody expects foreign aid to perform miracles, to turn Mozambique into Sweden overnight.  But more modest goals, such as saving millions of people a year from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, are quite reachable, for quite modest sums of money.
        That is the message of a commission report just released by the World Health Organization, which calls on advanced countries to provide resources for a plan to "scale up the access of the world's poor to essential health services." The program would provide very basic items that many poor nations simply cannot afford: antibiotics to treat tuberculosis, insecticide-treated nets to control malaria, and so on.  The price tag would be about 0.1 percent of advanced countries' income.  The payoff would be at least eight million lives each year.
        This is not starry-eyed idealism.  The report quotes Jeffrey Sachs, the Harvard professor who headed the commission: "I can be 'realistic' and `cynical' with the best of them – giving all the reasons why things are too hard to change."  Mr. Sachs knows that it will be hard to persuade advanced countries to come up with the money – and that the United States, in particular, is likely to be highly unreceptive.  But this is one of those cases in which leadership could make a tremendous difference.
        Right now, the United States is the Scrooge of the Western world – the least generous rich nation on the planet.  One of the tables in that W.H.O. report shows the share of G.N.P. given in foreign aid by advanced countries; the United States ranks dead last, well behind far poorer countries such as Portugal and Greece.  The sums proposed by the W.H.O. would double our foreign aid budget, not because those sums are large, but because we start from so low a base – about a dime a day for each U.S. citizen.
        Still, doubling our foreign aid budget sounds like an impossible dream.  But is it?  We may be a Scrooge nation, but we are not a nation of Scrooges.  Not only are Americans often generous as individuals, they are – without knowing it – apparently willing to give substantially more foreign aid than the nation actually does.  When asked how much of the federal budget should be devoted to foreign aid, Americans typically come up with a number around 10 percent – about 20 times what we currently spend.
        Voters are, however, misinformed: they think that the share of foreign aid in federal spending should be cut to 10 percent.  And they wonder why foreigners don't show more gratitude for all the money we give them.  Americans are, in other words, living in the past: the Marshall Plan ended more than 50 years ago, but they haven't noticed.
        The point is that we like to think of ourselves as generous.  This suggests that a U.S. administration that really wanted to follow the W.H.O. report's recommendations would not find it hard to build political support.  All it would have to do is use the bully pulpit to inform the public of the difference between America's generous self-image and the less attractive reality.
        Why bother?  You might say that the United States has a selfish interest in helping the world's poor.  The Sachs commission argues that there would be large collateral benefits from improved health care in the world's poorest nations.  Disease, it argues, is a major barrier to economic growth, and economic growth in developing countries would make the world as a whole a richer and safer place.
        You might also say that reducing the disconnect between America's words and its deeds would give us a better claim to the moral leadership we think we deserve.
        But the key argument here is surely a moral one.  A sum of money that Americans would hardly notice, a dime a day for the average citizen, would quite literally save the lives of millions.  Can we really say to ourselves, this Christmas Day, that this gift is not worth giving?

What Some of our Wiser Presidents have said
about the dangers wealth pose to our nation :

Democratic Pres. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816 :

"I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws our country."
and on another occasion :
        "This country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar."
and on another occasion :
        "I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies".
and on another occasion :
        "Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind; for I can apply no milder term to . . .  the general prey of the rich on the poor"

Republican Pres. Abraham Lincoln added :
        "These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people."   (in the Illinois Legislature, January 1837)

Republican Pres. Theodore Roosevelt added :

"There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains.  To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done." –

Democratic Pres. Woodrow Wilson added:

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

Democratic Pres. Franklin D Roosevelt added :

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe, if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself.  That, in its essence, is Fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power."

Republican Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower added :

" Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies, in the final sense,  a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and are not clothed.  The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

Democratic Pres. William Jefferson Clinton added:

"We have to make a world where there are far fewer terrorists, where there are fewer potential terrorists and more partners. . .  And that responsibility falls primarily upon the wealthy nations to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens. . .
        It will cost money, but it's a lot cheaper than going to war.  We will spend far more to pick up the pieces of destroyed lands and shattered lives if we do not do these things. . .  We will never fight a conflict for less than a billion dollars a month..  But for 12 billion dollars a year, they could pay America's share of these initiatives of trade and against poverty and disease and have money left over".
        The U.N. calculates that the whole of the world population's basic needs for food, drinking water, education and medical care could be covered by a levy of less than 4 % on the accumulated wealth of the 225 largest fortunes. To satisfy all the world's sanitation and food requirements would cost only less than the United States and the European Union spend each year on perfume.
        I am absolutely confident that we have the knowledge and the means to make the 21st century the most peaceful, prosperous, interesting time in all human history.  The question is whether we have the wisdom and the will."
( BBC's Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2001)

"The world's best" point the way

On the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize, 100 Nobel laureates
warned that our security hangs on environmental and social reform :

Toronto Globe and Mail
Friday, December 7, 2001 – Print Edition, Page A21

" The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world's dispossessed.  Of these poor and disenfranchised, the majority live a marginal existence in equatorial climates.  Global warming, not of their making but originating with the wealthy few, will affect their fragile ecologies most.  Their situation will be desperate and manifestly unjust.
        It cannot be expected, therefore, that in all cases they will be content to await the beneficence of the rich.  If then we permit the devastating power of modern weaponry to spread through this combustible human landscape, we invite a conflagration that can engulf both rich and poor.  The only hope for the future lies in co-operative international action, legitimized by democracy.
        It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security, in which we seek to shelter behind walls.  Instead, we must persist in the quest for united action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world.  These twin goals will constitute vital components of stability as we move toward the wider degree of social justice that alone gives hope of peace.
        Some of the needed legal instruments are already at hand, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Convention on Climate Change, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  As concerned citizens, we urge all governments to commit to these goals that constitute steps on the way to replacement of war by law.
        To survive in the world we have transformed, we must learn to think in a new way.  As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all."

The 100 Nobel laureates signatories

" In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." – George Orwell

        "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. . .  The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." – Martin Luther King, Jr. :

        "When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my own country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable."
– Thomas Merton  ( Strength To Love, 1963 )

        "We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
– Louis Brandeis

As the Republican political writer and commentator, Kevin Phillips has pointed out,
        "The federal inheritance tax that conservatives are trying to scuttle, principally on behalf of the 300,000 families with assets greater than $5 million, was imposed by wartime Republican presidents Lincoln and McKinley and urged for peacetime by Theodore Roosevelt." . . . In 1953, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower declined to support GOP congressional legislation to reduce the top federal income tax rate of 91 percent, and on leaving office in 1961, he warned against the rise of the military–industrial complex."

        "The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World.  No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent." – Gore Vidal

        "Who are the oppressors? The few: the king, the capitalist and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth, the workers..." – Mark Twain
        "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
– South-African Episcopal Archbishop Desmond Tutu

        "The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them.  That is the essence of inhumanity."
– George Bernard Shaw :
On the other hand, "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."
The Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

In his Annual Message to Congress, on December 3, 1861, Republican President Abraham Lincoln said :         "There is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention.  It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above labor, in the structure of government.
        It is assumed that labor is available only in connexion with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it, induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call slaves. And further it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fixed in that condition for life.
        Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.
        Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
        Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.
        A few men own capital, and with that avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for them.
        A large majority belong to neither class – neither work for others, nor have others working for them. In most of the southern states, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters; while in the northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men with their families – wives, sons and daughters – work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other."
Reference: Roy P. Basler, Abraham Lincoln : His Speeches and Writings, Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company, 3rd printing, 1946, pp. 633-634

        Before being impressed by the fact that the top 5% of Americans as a group pays 50% of our nation's income taxes, people need to stop and reflect on the fact that the same top 5% are reaping 80% of the nation's income!  The last thingthe wealthiest country on earth needs to do is to give tax money back to those who already have more than they will ever need, instead of using that money to relieve the suffering of those who, through no fault of their own, have much less than they need !

Some insights of the wealthy themselves :

An unknown billionaire once said,

"If you think money can make you happy, you have never had much of it."

        Even among the richthere are some who recognize the wisdom of taxing those with great wealth in order to help those most unfairly treated in our society.  Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest people of his time and yet after having given away much of his wealth himself, explained toward the end of his life that (in effect) "any man who dies wealthy is a failure".  If you are not already aware of this piece, written by one of the mighty "robber barrons" , you will be amazed by Andrew Carnegie's essay,

"The Gospel of Wealth" .

"Money is like manure.  If you spread it around, it does a lot of good, but if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell." – Clint W. Murchison , Texas financier

Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men of all time, plans to leave his own children far less than the Republicans want them to have, namely a tiny portion of his wealth ( a few million each).   And his father, Bill Gates, Sr. is one of the leaders of "Responsible Wealth", a group organizing as many rich people as possible to fight attempts by the Republican Party to lower the taxes on rich people.

        Please take a detour now to a site where you can review and signa very important petition being promoted by that great organization, and then plan to come backto this site afterwards . . .

        Here's an article by the rich folks at Responsible Wealth:
Forbes 400: They Didn't Do It Alone:
No "Self-Made" Fortunes
Among Richest Americans

Boston – September 21 –
"I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned." – Warren Buffett, No. 2 on the Forbes 400.

WHAT: Expert analysis of Forbes 400 richest Americans (to be released this week), illustrating how society has helped them become wealthy, spotlighting selected individuals, and discussing policies that support or undermine broad wealth creation.

WHO: Responsible Wealth Founders and Directors, Chuck Collins, Scott Klinger, and Mike Lapham. They co-authored the recent report, "I Didn't Do It Alone: Society's Contribution to Individual Wealth and Success."
        WHY: Year after year, the Forbes 400 includes many whose wealth is called "self-made." But this perpetuation of the Horatio Alger myth is destructive to our society and to wealth creation itself. Whether helped by public research and government contracts, public education, wide-ranging taxpayer-financed infrastructure, or the myriad publicly supported and regulated institutions, no one can claim they did it alone. And yet, the myth persists.
A growing danger is that the myth can be used to justify reducing public investment in the very institutions and infrastructure that not only enable more Americans to become wealthy, but maintain a strong economy. "Some of these billionaires want to pull up the ladder behind them. They received government help but don't want anyone else to." – Scott Klinger, Co-Director of Responsible Wealth.
Responsible Wealth is a national network of business people and affluent Americans concerned about deepening economic inequality who advocate for widespread prosperity. www.responsiblewealth.org
CONTACT: Responsible Wealth : Bob Keener :bkeener@faireconomy.org
(617) 423-2148 x26

Op-Ed Contributor
Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
By Warren E. Buffett
Published: August 14, 2011

Our leaders have asked for "shared sacrifice." But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
        While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as "carried interest," thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they'd been long-term investors.
        These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It's nice to have friends in high places.
        Last year my federal tax bill – the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf – was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income – and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
        If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine – most likely by a lot.
        To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It's a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
        Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
        I didn't refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone – not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 – shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what's happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
        Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion – a staggering $227.4 million on average – but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.
        The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
        I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn't mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
        Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country's finances. They've been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It's vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country's fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.
        Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can't fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
        But for those making more than $1 million – there were 236,883 such households in 2009 – I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more – there were 8,274 in 2009 – I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
        My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

"Foes (of the Estate Tax) have misled public
about harm to family farms and small businesses"

"Demonizing the estate tax as a destroyer of family farms and small businesses has been the favorite tactic of the anti-estate tax campaigners. But they have had little success in finding examples of small businesses or family farms that actually have been harmed by the estate tax. Actual small business owners, meanwhile, have shown little zeal for repeal.
        Public Citizen's Congress Watch & United for a Fair Economy: Spending Millions to Save Billions 25
        The anti-estate tax groups have been shameless in their phony claims about the damage the tax causes:

  • The death tax is killing American businesses ... To pay the death tax, many are forced to sell, " the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition said in a 2001 print ad.75 [See Appendix F]
  • The [estate] tax often means that the family business or farm has to be sold at death to pay the tax bill and cannot be passed on to children or other family members," two fellows at the Free Enterprise Fund wrote in a March 2006 op-ed in the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald.
  • ... the cruel and unfair death tax, the double tax that destroys family businesses, the tax farmers and ranchers fear the most," the American Family Business Institute said in an ad that began running in April 2006.

These claims are dubious. The pro-repeal American Farm Bureau in 2001 could not provide the New York Times with a single example in which a family had to sell its farm to cover its estate tax liability, and that was when the exemption was a fraction of what it is today.
        Of the 2.5 million people who died in 2004, only 440 left a taxable estate with farm or business assets equal to at least half the total estate, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
        The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has found that with a $2 million exemption, which currently applies, only 123 farms per year would owe any estate taxes.
        The true views of small businesses owners were revealed in a June 2004 survey commissioned by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The business owners ranked the estate tax as their 36th most pressing concern out of 75, below such matters as "telephone cost and service," "ability to cost effectively advertise" and "controlling my own time."
        The dearth of examples of businesses and farms harmed by the tax has prompted repeal proponents to take desperate actions to find supporting evidence for their case.
        In September 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called the AFBI's Apolinsky, the co-author of Sessions' estate tax repeal legislation, seeking examples of anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm." Sessions was looking for something to push back with in the debate over estate tax repeal.
        Apolinsky subsequently "reached out to [AFBI] members along the Gulf Coast to hunt for the dead, Time reported. Apolinsky's "estate-sniffing sleuths spent their time searching Internet obituaries among other places" to find examples of people who had been harmed by the estate tax.
        Public Citizen's Congress Watch & United for a Fair Economy: Spending Millions to Save Billions
        The search was evidently unsuccessful. Asked if he had found any people who were jointly victimized by the hurricane and the estate tax, Apolinsky responded 'not yet ... but I'm still looking.' [ from FairEconomy.org/reports/2006/EstateTaxFinal.pdf ]

a Petition by many wealthy, as well as other Americans, to restore our progressive Estate Tax .

See the Op-Ed Contribution by Warren E. Buffett (one of The U.S.A.'s richest men):
"Stop Coddling the Super-Rich"
Published: August 14, 2011

As for world poverty , we need to rid ourselves of the illusion that developed countries like ours are the great benefactors of the poorer countries of the world.  Although we may give some direct assistance to poor nations, "Rich countries give their farmers $320 billion in handouts, more than six times the amount they give to poor countries as aid."  And those subsidies not only enable our farmers to undersell our competitors in developed countries.  The also prevent poorer countries from being able to sell their products for a reasonable profit.  See news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/3102108.stm and this follow-up: news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/3104584.stm .

The LASTThing America Needs Now
is the Abolition or Reduction of
Taxation on the Estates and Income
of the  $uper-rich! Christ's Followers shouldn't just join
those opposing such moves.
They should be leading them!
        When discussing Income and / or Taxes in America, it helps to have some good basic data on the topic, like :

A must read soon the New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man .

According to an Amazon.com editorial review "John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this exposé of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. "Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars," Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carré, except it's a true story.
        Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn't afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco. The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn't do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes. It was, Perkins writes, a clever way for the U.S. to expand its "empire" at the expense of Third World citizens. While at times he seems a little overly focused on conspiracies, perhaps that's not surprising considering the life he's led. –Alex Roslin"

        Dean Kamen, the engineer who invented the segway (motorized scooter) has now invented small machines that can be run on cow manure and could bring clean water and electricity to the world's poor.
The Man In Black
( by Johnny Cash )

"Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black."

Johnny Cash  

    Not long after Cash's death, the Republican Party had the gall to claim him as one of their own at their national convention in 2004.  Some of his Democratic fans didn't take kindly to that "chutzpah".

The following is what passes for "philosophy" or "theology" in Conservative circles:
        "Sometimes when I reflect on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed.  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams.  If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered.  I think, "It is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver."  – Babe Ruth
        ( How many illicit drugs would that apply to? )

In an LA Times editorial ( January 8 2002), Robert Scheer wrote Republican President George W. Bush willingness to give his life in order to make the rich richer. "Over my dead body" was his response to proposals to scale back the $1.35 trillion in tax cuts planned for the next 10 years."

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