|Is it morally appropriate to divert $1 trillion in revenue ... to provide tax breaks for multimillionaires and billionaires? We don't think so.
Are we engaging in the politics of class warfare, resentment and envy? In advocating for a reformed federal estate tax, we have no aim to punish, denigrate or discriminate against those who have accumulated great wealth in America. Rather, we celebrate both individual achievement and an economic system that has provided such a fertile ground for wealth-creation.
Kudos to those who have worked hard and creatively and have made sacrifices enabling them to accrue wealth. Their efforts should be rewarded. But we should not lose sight of a simple fact in this accounting:
If these same individuals had attempted to launch their enterprises in almost any other country, they would not be as wealthy today. Americans who possess great wealth have a special obligation to pay back a debt to society.
We live in a society with an economy that has enabled a wide variety of people to attain wealth and comfort. And those who accumulate great wealth -- $10 million, $50 million, $500 million, and more -- are people who have benefited disproportionately from the system of public investment that we together, as taxpayers and givers to charity, have put in place in our society....
Preserving the estate tax will ensure that our society values the inherent worth of the individual -- rather than the inherited worth.... Without the estate tax, you in effect will have an aristocracy of wealth, which means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity rather than merit."
- Source: Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes
by Chuck Collins and William H. Gates Sr.
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