Is the idea of a citizenís wealth fund un-American? Does it go against basic American values like hard work, earning your own way and the satisfaction of knowing youíve worked for the gains youíve gotten?
The first reaction: Ha!. Do the rich in America work for everything they have? Does someone making ten million dollars a year really earn that much? What makes their value so high, while the people who actually working with their hands, like workers on an assembling line, worth so little? Matt Lauer of the TODAY SHOW makes somewhere around 25 million dollars a year. Do the people who put the show together make three, four or five million? With, perhaps, one or two exceptions, the answer is no.
Did the retiring head of Exxon-Mobile deserve a retirement package a few years ago of more than 400 million dollars? Letís not argue about the details, the fact is that the wealth that went to him was generated by thousands of employees who will never see a million dollars in retirement and, at base, that wealth came from the common human inheritance of oil buried in the ground and produced by the earth itself over millions of years. Under our system, those who exploit natural resources, those who get there first, get all of the benefits while the government takes in money in the form of taxes and, where applicable, lease fees for oil drilling. Is this fair? Is this right or is this just the way things have always been done, therefore they arenít questioned?
All of the radio and television station licenses in America were given away free by the government, most often to people who were either already wealthy or who had at least, in the case of small radio stations, a minimal amount of wealth. Why should those licenses be kept forever by those same parties? The same question applies to the first round of cell frequency licenses. One set of frequencies was given, free, to all of the incumbent telephone companies. From that has come the two largest cell companies in America, AT&T and Verizon. Is this fair? Is this right, that wealth should be given to wealth and be retained forever?
To believe that we canít have a system of greater sharing of wealth you have to believe that the current system is entirely fair in all of its respects or that we are incapable of coming up with something better.
There is nothing un-American about a citizenís wealth fund. It would simply recognize that we have enormous wealth and, second, that it is impossible to share that wealth on a wider basis through ordinary employment and in a system where having money means almost always getting more money without having to work.