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Bar News - April 15, 2015


Morning Mail: The Elephant in the Room

Reading Attorney Donald Sienkiewicz’s opinion piece in the March 18 issue of Bar News leads me to assume he has managed to slog his way through Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. (Apologies if I am wrong.) Like Piketty, Attorney Sienkiewicz is concerned with the (supposedly growing) “concentration of wealth” and appears to be suggesting a tax on wealth (he refers to it as “capital”). Also, like Picketty, he assumes that “the rich” who get richer are the same from year to year.

However, as a recent Forbes Magazine research piece shows, only 16 percent of the top wealthiest American families today have wealth dating back to the 18th Century. Furthermore, nary a Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie or Astor can be found on this list today. Even the Rockefeller family’s wealth has been reduced by 99 percent per capita.

The point is, what constitutes “the rich” varies from time to time with people constantly moving into or out of the top 20th income percentile (as well as the bottom 20th percentile) particularly in America – assuming we still allow “the market” to not be too stifled by regulation. There were no Gates or Buffetts on previous lists of the richest Americans from, say, 50 years ago.

I recommend an excellent eight-page countervailing, well-researched article to all who believe we need a direct tax on wealth as part of reducing the perceived “income inequality” issue. The article is titled “Income inequality: Piketty and the Neo-Marxist Revival” and is available to the public at www.thefreelibrary.com.

Besides, only governments levy and collect taxes. And what happens to those taxes when collected? Government uses them to grow itself and its regulatory apparatus, making movement between income percentiles more and more difficult.

Bob Fryer
Inactive, retired

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