In 2013, just a few years after the 2008 financial crisis, I was part of BlackRock’s Financial Markets Advisory Group working for the Greek Central Bank, assessing the capital requirements of the bailouts of the Greek banks. I was on the top floor of a bank building in Athens with about 20 bank executives taking a lunch break, when I glanced out the window and saw a huge crowd of people on the street.
For a moment I thought it was a parade, and then I realized it was something between a protest and a riot. As I looked out the window to the heated crowd below, and looked behind me to the well–fed bankers at the table, I wondered if I was actually helping anyone beyond the people having lunch with me.
A few months later, I left a 30-year career on Wall Street to work full time as chair of the board of the Patriotic Millionaires. I haven’t looked back since.
There’s a Greek proverb that goes: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.”
Lately, the old men running our country haven’t been planting trees, they’ve been cutting them down to make room for private golf courses.
Right now, millionaires and billionaires are building luxury bomb shelters and private islands, high end sanctuaries for the end of days. They’re willing to pay millions to live through the collapse of society in comfort, but how many of them have spent that same amount – or anything for that matter – to change the dynamics that are creating that threat in the first place?
And while I’d like to believe my fellow millionaires will see the light soon, we can’t rely on them.
In these divided times, with noise and spin coming from every corner of Washington and the media, it’s hard to know whom to trust. Taxes are even worse than most other issues, because not only does everyone have a point they’re trying to sell to you, they present it in what seems like the most dense, complicated way possible. It’s almost like they want you to be confused.
So what I want to do is give Americans of every political stripe and no political stripe a clear explanation of who actually benefits from our country’s tax code and the most recent GOP tax bill.