decade after giving away his entire inheritance, Chuck
Collins (the great-grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer)
continues to speak to the social and economic vision that
guided his actions.
choice to pass on substantial wealth to one's children
is a vote for individual security over collective security.
It essentially says, "I do not believe my child will
flourish in our society without special privileges"-in
education, recreation, health care, safe neighborhoods,
clean environments, etc.
time we choose individual security, we generally withdraw
support for collective security. Car commuters do not
have to be concerned about the quality of train service.
People who live in gated communities often resent having
to pay twice for security, municipal services, and open
space--once privately, and then again through taxes.
is hard to sustain a sense of commonwealth--"common
wealth"--especially when those of us with the most
resources have opted for individualized solutions. And
the more we do, the more we feel justified in withdrawing
because the services for the majority have crumbled further
and further, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
what point does the inheritance system undermine the security
of the next generation? I would argue that we are at that
point. There has been a dramatic shift in the ownership
of wealth in the U.S.:
increasingly our society is economically polarized; our
economy and the functions of government are more and more
benefiting a narrow group of people at the top, at the
expense of the vast majority. Is this the world we want
our children to inherit?
is the time for people with substantial wealth to take
action: to step out of the inheritance system, to help
change government priorities and to rebuild the commonwealth.
From a paper by C. Collins. For more information, contact
Chuck at: Share the Wealth, 37
Temple Place Boston,
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