A group of more than 200 rich Americans “committed to building a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive nation” is helping sponsor the Netroots Nation progressive organizing conference this year.
Morris Pearl, chairman of Patriotic Millionaires, says that the group wants to “explain to the American people that … this gross inequality is not good for rich people either.”
“Investors and business people don’t want a country with a few rich people and lots of poor people,” he says. “We don’t want to have businesses in low-wage places, we want to start businesses is high-wage places where people can make enough money to afford to buy stuff from us and make us even richer.”
Pearl compares the Democratic Party’s current situation to the defeat of Barry Goldwater, an event which led to the modern conservative movement.
In fact, Pearl led a panel this morning on “Our 1964 Moment: Learning from the Rise of the Right” to discuss a long-term strategy for Democratic Party renewal. Jeff Weaver, 2016 campaign manager to Bernie Sanders, spoke about the need to focus on bread-and-butter issues that impact working families.
In an exclusive interview with Deep State Nation, Pearl explained that his success is not entirely his own, but a matter of cumulative family wealth.
“I did very well in my time partially because I had parents, my wife had parents, they all had parents who started businesses in the 1920s, the 1930s — back when really, only white people could start businesses and have successful careers,” he says. “They saved enough money that I was able to go to college” without taking on a load of student debt. Pearl has passed on the same privilege to his own children.
The early boost allowed Pearl to have a very successful career in finance, eventually becoming a managing director at the investment firm BlackRock before he retired. But most people don’t have his advantages.
“That’s why I realize that I’m not rich because I was brilliant or worked hard,” he says. “A lot of it is that I had the good fortune … to be born at the right place and the right time.”
Now Pearl is trying to upend the common conservative wisdom that taxes are a form of theft. “It’s patriotic to pay taxes,” he says. “It’s proper to be a taxpayer. It’s not right to brag about how little taxes you pay or that you don’t pay taxes. Paying taxes is what Americans do to be part of the society that we have.”
He has little patience for shopworn Reaganite arguments. “They’ve convinced half the country that being greedy is good and that government is the problem,” Pearl says. “So I think we have to explain to people that that’s not the case, that being patriotic means being part of society.”
“Being rich is great,” he adds. “But being rich means an obligation to pay your fair share in taxes.”
What does that mean? “We should have lower tax rates for working class people … and higher tax rates for people like me who don’t even work at all, but earn a very large income through investments,” Pearl says.
Here is video of the interview. Watch:
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