Butler, a soft-spoken retired CEO of a division of Kodak,
is one of the 150 founding members of the national advocacy
group Responsible Wealth. "For years my wife Ruth and
I have given to good causes and helped out individuals
in need, as we were raised to do and as our deeply-felt
religious beliefs encouraged. Although we feel giving
is a creative, joyful, and energizing act, it has become
clear over the last fifteen years that the gap between
rich and poor has only widened. Part of the reason for
this is the unfair economic and tax rules tilted in favor
of those of us with wealth. Through Responsible Wealth,
my wife and I have an organized way to use our voice and
influence to help change those rules."
Wealth's project director, Mike Lapham, emphasizes the
need to change public policy. "The U.S.
wealth gap is the widest it has been since 1929. In 1965,
CEOs made 44 times the average pay of their workers; today
the ratio is 212 to one. The wealthiest one percent of
citizens now owns more than the bottom 92 percent combined!"
Wealth is just one project of United for a Fair Economy
(UFE), a national organization engaging people of all
backgrounds to help close the wage gap, limit the influence
of big money in politics, and remove tax loopholes for
corporations and the wealthy. Its activities include self-education,
publications, local workshops, public events, a national
speakers bureau, political art
and theater, and a strong media voice.
organizing people with wealth who support UFE's goals,
Responsible Wealth vividly contradicts the stereotype
of "greedy rich people." At Responsible Wealth's first
national conference, thirty members agreed to donate publicly
whatever money they save from the 1997 capital gains tax
cut to UFE and other community organizations working for
fairness and shared prosperity.
in the world should anyone's self-interest be as narrow
as their own private financial interests?" Frank Butler
exclaims. "What will assure that our grandchildren grow
up in a more secure world is a smoothly functioning, just,
and equitable society, not laws and rules that help enlarge
and protect the bank balance of privileged people."
Wealth is open to people in the top five percent of income
or net worth in the United
Many RW members are, but just $500,000 in household assets
or $125,000 in annual household income puts you in that
top five percent category.
further information, contact Mike Lapham at Responsible
Wealth c/o United for a Fair Economy, 37
Temple Place, 5th Floor, Boston,
or call 617/423-2148.
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