Keeping America: Wealth Concentration and the Need for Repaired Revenues and Basic Income
Posted: 26 Jan 2021
Date Written: June 30, 2020
This paper comes from a place of deep concern about wealth concentration in the United States of America, but also from a place of hopeful expectation. When I started my research in mid-2019, I did not imagine preparing the final draft during a global pandemic which has already killed nearly half a million people. Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 exposed the fragility of the U.S. economy. While necessary, shelter in place orders suspended the livelihoods of millions without savings for unexpected expenses, and caused weekly unemployment claims to jump 1,068%. In a strong demonstration of its legal and moral duty to ensure the wellbeing of the American people during times of crisis, the U.S. federal government quickly passed the $2.2 trillion “CARES” Act, the largest appropriations bill in its history. Despite longstanding policy disagreements over using public funds for public welfare, a crisis compelled Congress and the White House towards unprecedented compromise on multiple stimulus bills in only a few weeks.
The same resolve will be necessary to combat wealth concentration. Deconcentrating wealth will not be easy. Effective solutions will require engaging unpopular topics like tax policy, estate planning and trust provisions, property law, and tedious readings of 18th century political theory. While few are qualified to propose solutions at this intersection, and even fewer are willing to undertake this Sisyphean task, it is as necessary as it is difficult.
The federal government must find the political courage to reverse half a century of policies creating unsustainable levels of wealth concentration by repairing revenues and guaranteeing Americans a basic income. The estate planning and private client bar should help.
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