I have been taught since I was a child how to protect my “dynastic wealth”. Recently, after the non-profit organization ProPublica published a report on the taxation status of 25 top rich Americans, public opinion in the United States Uproar. How can rich people like Bezos, Musk and Buffett (pictured left, center, and right) not pay any income tax to the federal government?
This shock partly stems from a disturbing reality: The report does not say that these people cheated, lied, or committed any felony to reduce tax burdens. The stark truth is that the methods and practices for these billionaires to minimize their tax obligations are well documented, and none of them are illegal. To make matters worse, these methods and practices are commonplace. For example, use the loss of unrelated businesses to offset income; after careful adjustment, let the assets grow but not generate income, and then use these growing assets to borrow to meet the cash demand. Most wealthy people don’t think this is immoral. The more interesting question is why, what motivates these wealthy people to find ways to not spend even a penny?
Underpinning all these practices is a common belief that the government is bad and cannot be entrusted to it. In the eyes of the rich, they should keep as much money as possible to themselves and (use a small portion) for charity.
My grandfather Roy Disney co-founded The Walt Disney Company with his brother Walt. He believes in this concept. Determined to prevent the government from taking the money he wanted to leave to his family, he created an inter-generational trust fund to evade the supervision of the IRS. According to the design of the trust, I got a lot of money when I was 21 years old. Moreover, my grandparents and parents arranged decent and kind people for me, the purpose is to ensure that I will not do anything stupid with the property I got. Every method and practice mentioned in the report has been put forward by these honest people. And, over the years, I have accepted many of these suggestions. So, this is true: if you can get my tax return, you will find that it is a record of a law-abiding citizen. When you are like me, you will be taught some rules: never spend the property left to you, take care of it, leave more for your children, and then teach them to do the same. Finally, use all possible tools within the scope of the law, and try to keep the money away from government bureaucrats.
It took me too long to understand these rules and finally realized that they were actually “dynastic blueprints”. Why did I take so long to see clearly? Good question. For example, if you are a fish, it is difficult to describe water, let alone ask whether water is necessary, whether it is ethical, and what it should be. As long as no one is morally challenging charities, trusts, etc., how can I think that I can question those basic principles? I don’t have the courage to go this way.
There is another reason for my inaction, which is “it is great to have a lot of money”. Wealth can be addictive. The more you have, the more you need. In the past, a glass of beer was enough to make people comfortable, but now you find that you can’t stop without drinking six. Similarly, if you upgrade from economy class to business class and then to first class, you don’t want to go back to economy class. I’m not saying this to defend myself. I mean, because of the power of human nature, you need to understand it before you fight it.
What makes me question the tenets that I have been indoctrinated? moral. For many people, especially for those deeply rooted in money culture, ethics is a vague and ineffective trouble-a set of abstract principles, in the fast-paced life, efficient business operations and cruel Vulnerable to the competition.
What’s shocking about the ProPublica report is not just that the tax rate is so low, but that these billionaires can actually feel at ease. If your comfort requires society to operate in a certain way, a considerable proportion of your compatriots are always living in fear, worrying about whether they can have money to see a doctor in an emergency, or whether they can be covered by a tile , Or whether there is enough food, then maybe the problem is not with these people, but with you and what you think is necessary, appropriate and acceptable.