Wealth and Our Commonwealth
Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes
Publication Date: January 2004
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More than a thousand individuals of high net worth rose up to protest the repeal of the estate tax-Newsweek tagged them the "billionaire backlash." The primary visionaries of that group, Bill Gates Sr. and Chuck Collins, argue here that individual wealth is a product not only of hard work and smart choices but of the society that provides the fertile soil for succes. Weaving personal narratives, history, and plenty of solid economic sense, Gates and Collins make a sound and compelling case for estate tax reform, not repeal.
William H Gates Sr. is the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. He serves as trustee for a number of Northwest and national organizations, including the national board of United Way.
Chuck Collins is the cofounder and program director of the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth (www.responsiblewealth.org). He is coauthor of several books about economic inequality, including Economic Aparthied in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity.
Paul Volcker is former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
When the wealthy themselves plead for the right to pay higher taxes, the situation becomes more challenging . . . The skeptics will say . . . 'Let the rich get rich! It's good for us!' No society will remain healthy in the long run if it fails to pay attention to the distribution of income and wealth. It is thus Gates and Collins, rather than the mean-spirited advocates of Bushonomics, who are the true American patriots. --Michael Prowse, Financial Times
"After reading this persuasive volume, you'll think the whole case for repealing the 'death tax' is unhinged . . ." --Rich Barlow, Boston Globe
"In their clearheaded primer on estate taxes, Gates and Collins . . . are doing urgent work. By pushing to repeal the estate tax, the Bush administration is doing all it can to shift the total tax burden away from the very wealthy and toward middle- and lower-income taxpayers. This is not only unjust, it's nuts. Inheritance taxes would only fall on the largest estates . . . It is a concept no less worthy for being old-fashioned." --E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post
"Bill Gates and Chuck Collins provide a clear rationale for retaining the estate tax in this helpful and unselfish analysis." --Jimmy Carter, winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize
"Inheritance taxes are not about raising tax revenue. They are about 'What Kind of Nation Do We Want to Be?' . . . This book gets our thoughts back on the right issues."--Lester Thurow, author of The Future of Capitalism