This is What Democracy Looks Like

Patriotic Millionaire Friedrike Merck’s speech from April 15th “Show Us Your Taxes Day” Rally in Miami, Florida:

Please join me in taking a moment together, as one people, united in a quest for liberty and justice for all, in a responsive recitation of our blessed Constitution’s preamble:

We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.A just society is founded in great part on an economy that serves everyone. In a just society, there is no mean spirited trickle-down, there is no simple pie that gets cut up by the conniving and the clueless. No, justice runs deep and wide. It is born from compassion and a sense of decency and until we reach our hoped-for destiny, those of us who have more, must share more.

Mr. President, Mr. Mnuchin, Mr. Ryan, please raise my taxes.

In an economy like ours that is 70% consumer demand driven, putting more money into the hands of those in the lower and middle classes, who will spend it on basic, daily needs rather than stuff it away in an offshore bank account, is not only the smart thing to do but it’s the right thing to do.

And speaking of stuffing things away… Mr. President, the American people have a right to see your taxes. We need to know if you will personally benefit from proposed legislation. We need to know if you are entangled in nefarious dealings. We need to know how much you owe Uncle Sam AND how much you just might owe Uncle Vladimir. Transparency is a cornerstone of democracy. Secrecy and obfuscation are the meat and potatoes of a dictatorship.

Our president, and to a certain extent his Treasury Secretary, supposedly wants zero tax cuts on the wealthy but we Patriotic Millionaires, of which I am a proud member, take issue with that because we aren’t paying enough taxes to begin with! Leaving our tax rate the same does absolutely nothing to reverse decades of tax cuts for the wealthy. The system isn’t rigged, it is BROKEN, if it ever worked at all, and the twisted values that brought us this disgraceful, cruel wealth disparity are at the heart of the matter. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, times of economic booms for our country, the top tax rates were as much as double what they are today. Quaker values raised my Vermont mother, and they raised me. Live simply that others may simply live.

This president doesn’t speak for us when he describes himself as “smart” because he knows how to take advantage of an imperfection known as a loophole. In my book that’s not smart, it’s wily and conniving. A business man, in his quest for profit, may care only about the bottom line and may sniff out the weaknesses in a system in order to take advantage of them for his own gain but a let’s see if our tycoon turned president can act presidential by closing the loopholes and re-designing the system to better benefit everyone. Let’s see if he can put his country first.

The Republicans recently tried to jam through their ill-conceived health care bill but it failed because there was no there there. It wasn’t a health care bill, it was a tax cut for the wealthy. It would have given millions to the top 1% at the expense of 24 million people loosing health insurance. I am glad it failed. As I said before, I don’t need a tax cut, I need a healthy and just society to be a part of, where those that have much share with those that have less so that we can all experience the Blessings of Liberty.

What is domestic Tranquility in a nation that successfully establishes justice? It is a family that is well fed, well educated and healthy. It is a worker who is valued for their work to keep a toilet bowl clean or a solar panel more efficient, who returns home from their job to a family, the size of which they planned for, a family that has been cared for by someone who is also valued for their vital domestic work with tax credits or other new forms of economic justice. This is domestic Tranquility.

What is the general Welfare in a just society? Is the word welfare hijacked and turned into a hot button topic that when touched, turns the true meaning of welfare from the well being and happiness of others into a fear based what undeserving slouch is stealing my happiness and well-being from me? The general welfare is what the country of Bhutan refers to in its happiness index. It does not have a GNP, it has a GNH, a Gross National Happiness index. They value something that we have forgotten to value, everyone’s wellbeing. Perhaps as a country of Buddhists, they truly understand that we are all connected.

Money, “privilege” of any kind, is isolating. It distances us from the common stoop where others meet, it shields us from witnessing the pain and suffering of others and if we are not mindful, it cuts off our unique human capacity to empathize. Today, we gratefully gather together at the stoop because we are being challenged to create a united front for economic justice, an Army of Compassion that will create new ways of valuing all work; parenting, caring for the aged, healing the incarcerated, restoring the earth. No more isolation, no more silos… and no more bubbles.

Our challenge will be to stay united in our diversity as wefocus on the big picture of changing the present bully driven Domination System, to a Partnership System, a paradigm that has a far better chance of delivering Liberty and Justice for all.

Thank you.


Friedrike Merck comes from twelve generations of chemists on her father’s side and four generations of Abolitionists on her mother’s side. Friedrike has been sharing her wealth since 1968 and, in an effort to get the Progressive Agenda into the White House, she gave away half of her fortune during the eight years of the Bush Administration. She dedicates this speech to her ancestor Jeremiah Evarts who, nearly two hundred years ago, tried unsuccessfully to convince President Jackson to honor the basic human rights of Native Nations, including the Miami Tribe.

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