How Rich is Too Rich For Democracy?
by Thom Hartmann, 2005, CommonDreams.org
Let’s see now:
At what point does great wealth held in a few hands actually harm democracy, threatening to turn a democratic republic into an oligarchy?
It’s a debate we haven’t had freely and openly in this nation for nearly a century, and last week, by voting to end the Estate Tax, House Republicans tried to ensure that it wouldn’t be had again in this generation.
But it’s a debate that’s vital to the survival of democracy in America.
In a letter to Joseph Milligan on April 6, 1816, Thomas Jefferson explicitly suggested that if individuals became so rich that their wealth could influence or challenge government, then their wealth should be decreased upon their death. He wrote, “If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree…”