Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "On Inherited Wealth"

On June 19, 1935, former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the following:

“The transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance, or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people…

“…Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security. In the last analysis such accumulations amount to the perpetuation of a great and undesirable concentration of control in a relatively few individuals over the employment and welfare of many, many others…

“Such inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our Government…”

In his 1939 book The Ending of Hereditary American Fortunes, Gustavus Myers also recalled:

“Bent upon still further breaking up great family concentrations of wealth, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged Congress to use its taxing power to the limit. In addition to Federal estate taxes, he called for still more levies in the shape of inheritance, succession and legacy taxes on large amounts received by any one legatee or beneficiary. And to prevent possible evasion, heavier taxes on gifts…The Knights of Labor, decades back, had demanded the taxing of great private wealth out of existence…”

Yet in 2009, wealth and political power in the United States still seems to be undemocratically concentrated in the hands of a small number of billionaire and multi-millionaire individuals--and the corporations, political parties, global media conglomerates, foundations and universities which these plutocrats control.

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