I’m 53 and my wife and our two kids and I live in urban Denver. We are financially fortunate and thanks to two good incomes, decent investments, smart work and luck, we are what I call garden variety millionaires. My wife is an M.D. and I’m an MBA from a non-fancy non-top 25 school. I considered myself politically engaged and a proud and active member of the Patriotic Millionaires.
While we’re surrounded by people of the same political persuasion (79% of the county I live in voted for Biden), many people are still surprised to see that a self-admitted millionaire is a proud progressive. I’m frequently asked, “Why do you vote like you do, and why are you so involved?”
Well, I wasn’t always like this. I was born in Louisiana, grew up extremely conservative and a few socioeconomic and educational rungs below where I reside today. At eighteen, I registered republican. During college, I attended the Reagan/Bush GOP convention. I was about as conservative as they come. But then a funny thing happened. As I read more, became more politically engaged, and had various business dealings and friendships that expanded my view of the world, my perspective began to change.
The more I saw of what the right supports, the less I liked. I don’t believe in the winner-take-all philosophy that’s driven conservative governing for years, and I don’t think that leaders are “smart” for not paying taxes or refusing to release their taxes. The right seems to think the IRS and taxes are anti-American or just bad, but personally I celebrate Tax Day, thankful that I’m so fortunate to earn what I earn and live in America. There are clearly intellectuals, centrists, and patriots in all American parties, but too much of the right has been poisoned by radicalized paranoia, conspiracy theories, white grievance, nationalism, and authoritarian populism. Even in the middle of a pandemic, the simple action of wearing a mask, has been politicized, showing that the right simply has no regard for any piece of a functional social contract.
Now I’m not a socialist or communist. I’m a capitalist pig who invests in real estate, options, equites, start-ups, and our country. Protecting the most at risk, by wearing a mask and social distancing, is liberty, just as your right to buy a gun legally and with a background check. That’s what makes me a progressive. I love liberty, but I understand that in order for us to have true liberty, the government must guarantee certain rights and privileges, and protect us from others infringing on our own liberty. Anything else isn’t freedom, it’s anarchy.
Mostly, I’m a progressive because I believe social change and creating opportunities and justice for all, including minorities, the poor, and those with disabilities, is best for our nation. I’m a progressive because I empathize with the aggrieved white working class or any other group either losing their livelihood or working for less than a livable wage, but I believe that paying them more is the solution, rather than embracing their fear-fueled grievances. I support government intervention to help workers in need of retraining. If working people need assistance, the government must step in. Government is here for us, not itself or special interests or politicians.
I have the same passion as many other Americans – money – but I’m especially interested in how money shapes the economy and the world around us, and how our government’s decisions shape the flow of that money. The reason I’m a progressive and a member of the Patriotic Millionaires is because I know, having a strong understanding and experience with it, that America’s tax system allows the most powerful and wealthy to write rules that pass the burden onto the others. Our tax system encourages companies to move offshore and allows U.S. companies to claim taxes in Bermuda and other countries, while offering millionaires and billionaires a plethora of loopholes to abuse to avoid paying their fair share. Taxes are complicated, but this shouldn’t be that hard. Secretaries and other workers should not pay a higher percentage in taxes than their CEO bosses.
I’m writing this and working with the Patriotic Millionaires because I want to give more Americans access to the American Dream. Here’s how we can do that:
- The wealthiest individuals and corporations must pay their fair share of taxes.
- Without better schools and health care leading to fair opportunities, we will not have a true democracy.
- Every American citizen deserves as much political power as a billionaire or corporation and we must get rid of Citizen’s United.
- Every American who works full time should be able to afford basic needs.
- Billionaires and corporations who have benefited from our country’s assets and opportunities, must pay a larger percentage of their taxes or we will have not democratic country to run.
There’s no time to waste – let’s get started.