The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism with his he someone like me
Sam Jacobs has had many conversations with his family’s lawyers lately. He’s trying to get access to more of his $ 30 million trust fund. At the age of 25, he has reached the age at which many heirs can break up their money for crazy shops or a stable with sports cars. He doesn’t want that, but by wealth management standards his plan is just as bad. He wants to give everything away.
“I want to build a world where someone like me, a young person who controls tens of millions of dollars, is impossible,” he said.
Jacobs has been a socialist since college and views the “extreme, plutocratic wealth” of his family as both a moral and an economic failure. He wants to use his legacy to end capitalism and use my money to undo systems that amass money for those at the top and who have played a major role in expanding economic and racial inequality.
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Millennials will be the recipients of the largest generational change in assets in American history — the Great Wealth Transfer, as financial types call it. It is expected that tens of trillions of dollars will pass between generations over the next decade.
And, like all wealth in the United States, that money is extremely concentrated in the upper brackets. Jacobs, whose grandfather was a founder of Qualcomm, expects up to $ 100 million over the course of his life.
Most of his millennial counterparts, however, are left with a bad legacy — debt, poor job prospects and the creation of a social safety net. The youngest of them were 15 years old in 2011 when Occupy Wall Street drew a line between the Have-a-Lots and everyone else. The oldest, if lucky, worked in a post-recession economy before the current recession. Class and inequality have been part of the political conversation for most of their adult lives.
In her day, the widening gap between rich and poor pushed left politics back into mainstream US politics. President-elect Joe Biden was 20 points behind socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in this year’s Democratic presidential election. And over the past six years, millennials have transformed America’s Democratic Socialists from a fringe organization with an average age of 60 to a national force with chapters in each state and nearly 100,000 members, most of them under 35.
Both as a trust child and as an anti-capitalist, Jacobs is in a rare position among leftists fighting against economic inequality. But he’s not the only one trying to figure out “what it means to be with the 99% when you’re the 1%”.
Challenge the system
“I’ve always been taught that the world is like that, that my family has wealth while others don’t, and that because of that I have to give some of it away, but not necessarily question why it was there. Said Rachel Gelman, a 30-year-old in Oakland, California who describes her policies as “anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and abolitionist.”
Her family has always been generous in advocating liberal causes and civil society groups. Gelman supports groups working to end inequality, including the Black Lives Movement, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and Critical Resistance, a leading group promoting the abolition of prisons.
“My money is mostly in stocks, which means it comes from underpaid and undervalued workers, and that is impossible to break away from the economic legacy of genocide and indigenous slavery,” Gelman said. “When I realized that, I couldn’t imagine doing anything with my wealth other than passing it on to these communities.”
According to consulting firm Accenture, the silent generation and baby boomers will donate up to $ 30 trillion to their heirs by 2030 and up to $ 75 trillion by 2060. These fortunes began accumulating decades ago — in some cases centuries. The concentration of wealth became stratospheric from the 1970s, however, when neoliberalism became the guiding philosophy of the financial sector and corporations began obsessively seeking higher returns for shareholders.
“The wealth that millennials inherit came from a mammoth redistribution away from the working masses that created a super-rich tiny minority at the expense of a fleeting American dream that is now out of reach for most people,” said Richard D. Wolff, a Marxist and University of Massachusetts Amherst is an economics professor emeritus who has published 12 books on class and inequality.
He said he has spoken out professionally against capitalism’s selling points since beginning his teaching career in 1967, but that his millennial students are “more open to hearing this message than their parents ever were”.
Heirs whose wealth comes from a particular source sometimes use this story to guide their giving. Pierce Delahunt, a 32-year-old “socialist, anarchist, Marxist, communist, or all of the above,” has a trust fund financed by his ex-stepfather’s outlet mall empire. (Delahunt does not use gender-specific pronouns.)
“When I think of outlet malls, I think of intersectional suppression,” Delahunt said. There’s the originally indigenous land on which every mall is built, plus the low wages paid to disproportionately colored retail and food service providers, and the carbon emissions from making and transporting the goods. With this in mind, Delahunt is giving away $ 10,000 a month, split between 50 small organizations, most of which have an anti-capitalist mission and in some ways address the externalities of discount shopping.
When money is power, real redistribution of wealth also means redistribution of authority. 33-year-old Margi Dashevsky, who lives in Alaska, is advised by a team of three activists from indigenous and black power movements about her charitable donations. “The coincidence that I am born into this wealth does not mean that I am somehow omniscient how to use it,” she said. “It actually gives me a lot of blind spots.”
She also donates to social justice funds like the Third Wave Fund, where grants are run by communities that receive funding, rather than being decided by a panel of wealthy individuals. The latter type of nonprofit, Dashevsky said, “comes from a place where incompetence is embraced, all these hurdles are set for activists, and their time is wasted on things like reporting on impact. I want to turn this upside down by stepping back, trusting, and listening. “
Of course, a single act of redistribution of wealth does not change a system. But these heirs see themselves as part of a larger shift and eager to fund its dynamic.
The revolution begins at the dining table
Any leftist who tries to shake off an inheritance will eventually find the way to generate resources. All of the heirs in this article did. The organization, founded in 1998, is a politicizing machine for wealthy 18 to 35 year olds.
The non-profit organization offers programs that encourage members to see capitalism not as a market-based balance that promises upward mobility, but as a harmful system based, as Resource Generation puts it, on “stolen land, stolen work and stolen life.” . In go young people who are knotted by tension between their progressive values and their wealth; The result is determined activists with a redistribution plan.
Maria Myotte, the organization’s communications director, said membership grows every time the nation has a bill: Occupy Wall Street, the 2016 presidential election, and this year’s double-blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-racism rebellion the black newbies. There are approximately 1,000 dues in the local US departments. According to the latest internal survey, the broader resource generation network, which also includes some non-members, expects to control over $ 22 billion in their lifetime.
Heirs who want to redistribute their wealth said they first approached the task with the just fire of revolutionaries, scourging family members for their coziness with privileges. “There have been a lot of angry conversations around the dinner table where I was an impatient, arrogant brat,” said Sam Vinal, a 34-year-old in Los Angeles. But many have found that treating these conversations like friendly political advertisements can be more persuasive.
When Vinal’s mother wanted to set up a family foundation that typically focused on a single charitable theme, Vinal saw an opportunity to create a means for wider change instead. He held conversations with leaders of various social movements to persuade his mother to change the mission. “That was a lightbulb moment for my mother to hear right from the front,” he said.
Since its inception in 2017, the foundation has supported radical organizations led by a group of activists. Vinal spends much of his time organizing other young people with family foundations to guide theirs in this direction.
“I’m trying to understand where people come from, what bubbles of race and class we’re stuck in so I can help them be more resourceful about where to go beyond capitalism,” he said.
Development of the “solidarity economy”
The racial wealth gap means that heirs who seek to redistribute their wealth are predominantly white. People of color who are members of resource generation, for example, tend to have access to less total wealth or to inherit later in life. The richest are transracial adoptees or those who have white parents. This makes the redistribution approach a little more complicated.
“The giving away everything feels like it is framed by white heirs,” said Elizabeth Baldwin, a 34-year-old Democratic socialist in Cambridge, Massachusetts who was adopted as a baby by a white family from India. Heirs in their position, she said, must decide whether to hand down to their own communities or to others and what it means to give up economic privilege if they don’t have the safety net that comes with white. She plans to keep enough of her inheritance to buy an apartment and raise a family, and enjoys the kind of comfortable middle-class existence denied to many people of color in the United States.
Since her adoptive family’s fortunes come from landownership and slavery, she donates to anti-racist groups and will soon be making low-interest loans to black-owned companies. “The money I live on was made through the exploitation of people who look like me. So I see my giving as reparation,” she said.
Baldwin has long-term relationships with Grassroots International and Thousand Currents, philanthropy networks operating in many post-colonial countries, including India, whose impoverishment she views as a symptom of Western capitalism. It is “strange” at times, she admitted, to make amends to her own people. “But nobody in my family is talking about where this money is coming from, and I feel like I have to,” she said.
There is another problem: since the stock market is both an engine of American capitalism and, in many cases, responsible for the massive individual fortunes of its heirs, few want anything to do with it.
“I get rich because other people don’t get rich, and I don’t want to continue investing in things like Coca-Cola and Exxon-Mobil to create more wealth,” said Baldwin. “I would rather put my money in a community that has been denied economic resources and disrupt the system.”
To this end, she invests in what she and her colleagues call the “solidarity economy”.
In short, this means using your money to support fairer economic infrastructures. This includes investing in or donating to credit unions, employee-owned companies, land trusts, and nonprofits that aim to maximize the quality of life through democratic decision making rather than maximizing profits through competition. Emma Thomas, a 29-year-old Democratic socialist who also takes her money off the stock market, described what she is investing in now as “an economy that is about exchange and needs, that is cooperative and sustainable and that requires it no unrestricted growth. “
This summer she was part of a team that organized around 250 people to support the Black Land and Power project and transferred money from asset portfolios to 10 Black-run country locations in the US (many solidarity economic projects due to the history of economic racism in the US contain an element of racial justice.)
For Thomas, the prospect of contributing to a solidarity economy is a refreshingly tangible expression of their values when compared to the abstraction of accumulated portfolio returns. “At some point these numbers on a screen are imaginary,” she said. “But what isn’t imaginary is whether you have shelter, food, and a community. Those are real returns.”
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