Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Wealth and Taxes and Giving Back

From the New York Times, an intriguing story on wealth in America--wealth whose parallel is a century old. Not since the Gilded Age has American wealth concentrated like it has in the top 1 percent of income earners. Robert L. Crandall, former president, CEO, and chairman of American Airlines speaks about the unique possibilities for wealth in the United States. He cogently aggresses a U.S. tax code blind to the protections the U.S. affords large businesses--and subsequently the American uber-rich. Louis Uchitelle writes for NYT:
"The nation’s corporate chiefs would be living far less affluent lives, Mr. Crandall said, if fate had put them in, say, Uzbekistan instead of the United States, 'where they are the beneficiaries of a market system that rewards a few people in extraordinary ways and leaves others behind.'

'The way our society equalizes incomes,' he argued, 'is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way.'"

We write too many passes in this country largely because we think: "It could be me. It could be me that is rich and wants to avoid paying heavy taxes." Crandall nicely points out an overlooked logic. We have a lot of work to do, it begins by recognizing the cagey in the time-tested American epigram "equal opportunity."

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