Restricting personal wealth

The Gracchus brothers, Gaius and Tiberius, were tribunes, the equivalent of our deputies, and they wanted to tackle the problems of the time. The rich were few in number but owned almost all the land. As they produced all the cereals, they agreed among themselves to set a high price and brought in foreigners to work for very low wages that Roman citizens would not accept. By 133 B.C., Rome was plunged into widespread poverty, which tormented the city. The Gracchus brothers passed a law called property, which stated that property had a limit in quantity, beyond which it was toxic for society, and a limit in use, according to which just because it’s mine doesn’t mean I can do what I want with it. The Gracchus brothers were seized by the rich and their henchmen and thrown into the Tribe. What followed was 100 years of civil war between the plebs and the rich, before Emperor Augustus took advantage of the turmoil caused by the death of Julius Caesar to institute the laws of the Gracchus brothers. Four hundred years of peace and prosperity followed.

In 1930, in France, judges created the public water utility, nationalizing the springs. This showed that private property is not sacred. They expropriated the owners, and that was normal. Léon Blum was harassed and left office.

Labour’s victory in 1945 in the UK led to the expropriation of mine owners. Ownership is not absolute. Owners became less wealthy and this pushed them below the toxic limit.

On November 24, 2013, in Switzerland, a law was passed limiting wages to 250 times the minimum wage. This means that for the highest wages to rise, the lowest wages must be increased. By way of comparison, in France in 2019, CAQ40 bosses earned 1128 times the salary of their most modest employees. The rich are very happy in Switzerland.

In 2022, in Ukraine, taking advantage of exceptional war powers, President Zelensky nationalized the banks, TV channels and industries owned by the oligarchs. The oligarchs were so wealthy that they decided everything in the country, as the Ukrainian coffers were empty.

When Elon Musk intervenes in the war in Ukraine, it’s too much. When Mark Zuckerberg favors Trump’s election to enrich himself, it’s too much. When someone is rich enough to have their own space program or has more money than a country, it’s too much. When your decisions can ruin the lives of millions of people even though you weren’t elected, it’s too much. When the richest 1% of humanity emit 100 times more greenhouse gases than the other 99%, it’s too much.

These people deserve to be rich, but not that rich. They have never given back to society what society gave them in the first place. They offer philanthropy in return, but it’s selective solidarity because they decide how much and to whom they give the money. Society has trained their employees with schools and universities; they are healthy thanks to hospitals, there are roads, railroads and airports to transport their goods. There is a police force and an army to protect them, and a justice system to enforce their rights. There are natural resources to fuel their industries, etc.

Columbia University believes that $100 million is the limit. It’s more than enough for the individual and not enough to be toxic (Putting a Limit On Wealth – Stephen H. Unger:

Les riches menacent-ils la démocratie – Arte:

What, if Anything, is Wrong with Extreme wealth – Ingrid Robeyns :

Having too Much – Ingrid Robeyns:

Capitalisme américain, le culte de la richesse (1/3) | ARTE:

Faire casquer les riches | Capitalisme américain, le culte de la richesse (2/3) | ARTE:

Elon Musk: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

Noir Désir – L’homme pressé:

World’s five richest men double their money as poorest get poorer – The Guardian:

The cost of extrême wealth:

La ploutocratie, les riches au pouvoir ? – France Inter:

Aurianne Or by Aurianne Or is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0