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MY WORD: What does wealth mean

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As pointed out before, our family does not meet the standards in terms of income or accumulated wealth to be considered wealthy. If we did we’d probably move our legal residence to Florida, Tennessee or some of the other state who have no state income tax or death taxes (the most obscene tax of all).

I am, however, very thankful for that 1 percent of the population who pay 40 percent of the taxes. Why don’t they move to Hong Kong where the top income tax bracket pays 15 percent and no tax on estates, capital gains, income earned outside the country or earned interest? All this sanctioned by a communist government in China.

Dad and I had this discussion several times: He would say “The most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictator.” I would say “Yes, but how do you assure that benevolence?” He’d say, “That’s the problem”.

So why don’t our billionaires move there? It’s too far away from the people and the land they love, and the price of just one acre is over $56 million, and what would they do with their real property: There would be no one left who could afford it.

By the way, those old men who run China are far from benevolent, but they’re not dumb. They know what turns the wheels. Wealth. Why can’t we elect people to positions of power who understand this? Sadly, they do, but they want the majority of the people dependent on them. If you add up the 47 percent who draw some form of public assistance, those who work for, or are retired from, government and those who are totally ignorant of what turns the wheels, that’s an unhealthy majority. Scary.

Is this still the land of opportunity?

Let me tell you about my friend Danny Renshaw who at the age of 17 lost a leg in a mining accident in Western Kentucky. During a year of rehab he thought long and hard about his future—I’m not sure Danny finished high school. He developed a plan and settled with the insurance company for $10,000, and immediately set about implementing his plan.

A mutual friend told me he watched Danny write a check for a twin-engine jet so he could visit his 5 dealerships, all of which are located in Western Kentucky. I can’t tell you how much I admire him and how much I value his friendship.

It seems every time I pick up the newspaper I see where a new billionaire or group of them has sold some electronic device to a larger company. Of course our greedy uncle and his subsidiaries will get a big chunk of it, but do you understand what one billion dollars really means?

Invest it at 5 percent, which is very conservative, even in this age of low interest. That’s 50 million a year. Even after taxes I’d have a very hard time spending that.

Stay tuned.

Bob Pearce is a retired business owner who lives in Shelbyville.