Why would a millionaire want to be taxed?

Via D. Patrick Miller
on Oct 10, 2011
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Photo by Manu H.


Tracey Lake used to occupy Wall Street – from the inside.

Formerly a successful stockbroker with Dean Witter (later Morgan Stanley), she remembers the first month she made $50,000. “I was ecstatic,” she recalls. “From a very early age I was fascinated by business and the stock market, and I was willing to turn cartwheels to make big money.” But not long after scoring that 30-day bonanza, Lake noticed that the thrill was going away. “I realized I would give most of it up to have my life back.”

Still, Lake’s Wall Street success (and an unexpectedly large inheritance) ushered her into the ranks of American millionaires. Now a Seattle real estate developer, Lake spends less of her time attempting to multiply her riches than to get them more heavily taxed. She is an activist member of Responsible Wealth, a national network of over 700 business leaders and wealthy individuals who are in the top five percent of income and wealth in the U.S., and who advocate for “fair taxes and corporate accountability.”

Tracey Lake

Lake says that she came to this work by dint of what she calls a “dual citizenship” in the American economy. The daughter of a single parent who toiled as a secretary, Lake recalls that she was “a dumpster-diving kid way before it was fashionable. We knew the days that grocery stores would toss the expired milk and cheese; it was a weekly routine for us to visit the back of Winn-Dixie.

“So I was raised with working-class values but now I have membership in an elite, upper-class circle. And that’s why I’d like to have a hand in changing people’s views of wealth. Many people pursue it with no conscience, no sense of obligation. Everything I am and everything I have achieved owes to being lucky enough to be born into a democratic country. When I lived in Honduras while serving in the Peace Corps from 2003 to 2005, I met many people just like me who will never get the chances I’ve been given.

“I have more than most, so I expect to pay more taxes. And I give away a lot of money. But it’s been frustrating to watch the rich get richer over the last fifteen years thanks to the hedge-fund clause and other financial policy decisions that have allowed extremely high-wage earners to pay the lowest possible tax on their earnings. It makes me mad that certain politicians keep harping about lower taxes while the tax on millionaires has not been this low since the 1920s.”

Photo by Chris Bloke

Beyond the issue of simple fairness, Lake is interested in shifting the collective consciousness that has allowed the gap between rich and poor to grow ever wider.

That gap does obvious damage to the poor and middle class, and to America’s economic health as a whole. Based on her own experience, Lake feels that the getting and guarding of excessive wealth also exacts a spiritual cost on its beneficiaries.

“I left Wall Street because I was always walking the tightrope of fear and greed. I faced my clients’ investment in these forces daily, but what surprised me was watching my own fear and greed grow with each passing month, right along with the industry. Everyone who pursues wealth without fairness contributes to this predicament. When our interest in our own spiritual power exceeds our obsession with wealth, then things will start to change.”




About D. Patrick Miller

D. Patrick Miller has been a seeker and researcher of spiritual wisdom for over two decades. He is the founder of Fearless Books and the author of a dozen books and over 100 magazine and online articles for such periodicals as Yoga Journal, The Sun, Columbia Journalism Review and San Francisco Chronicle. His research spans a wide variety of subjects, including A Course in Miracles, the Enneagram typology of personality, the I Ching, Jungian psychology, yoga, shamanism, cultism, spirituality in the workplace, psychic phenomena, altered states of consciousness, and advanced human capacities. He is the author of THE FORGIVENESS BOOK: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve (Hampton Roads, 2017), UNDERSTANDING A COURSE IN MIRACLES, and LIVING WITH MIRACLES: A Common Sense Guide to A Course in Miracles. He also provides other writers with editing, independent publishing assistance, and professional representation through Fearless Literary Services. Connect through Facebook.


11 Responses to “Why would a millionaire want to be taxed?”

  1. I enjoyed reading this, thanks. I'd love to hear more about Ms. Lake and responsible wealth — such a nice change to hear from someone sober, sane, sensible and honest.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thorough, concise, clear and an important message to be heard. Thank you, Tracey, for speaking your truth and for speaking up and out for so many of us.

  3. John S Davis says:

    The United States is like Disneyland. You can get a little taste of it and it won't cost much. But if you want the Premium Passport you have to shell out a lot more. Taxes are your ticket to this wonderland.

  4. jack says:

    Our nation's system of taxation depends on widespread acceptance and compliance by its citizens. Acceptance and compliance depend, in turn, on some minimal degree of fairness in the system — fairness that has been steadily eroding for the last several decades. Like Warren Buffett, Ms Lake is in a good position to see that unfairness and speak out against it. My thanks to her, and to you, Patrick, for publicizing this message.

  5. Zoe says:

    If Ms. Lake ever decides to run for office, she has my vote — but then when did being a visionary ever pan out for a politician? It's plain that Ms. Lake is the kind of person we should be emulating; an intelligent, prosperous human being who has stayed in touch with her own humanity. How many of us would give up our creature comforts to help others better their lives?
    Especially since she could use her own deprived childhood and her rise above it on her own merits as a reason not to help others.

  6. Mark Ledbetter says:

    The idea of organizing or encouraging the rich to give more is great. But give more to government? The purveyor of foreign wars, Wall Street bailouts, and government-business collusion? Charity, yes. Bailing out the war machine, no. Sorry for the little note of negativity. Tracey Lake's heart is in the right place, but government is not a very good traffic director for monetary outpourings of the heart. I'd suggest that Responsible Wealth consider giving directly to those in need.

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    I don’t know, Patrick. So long as government is a war machine for the unholy alliance of corporatism (business-government collusion) and national honor, I think “starving government” is a very wise tact. And sharing is un-American? Really?

    Checked out your book recommend (Money and the Meaning of Life) on Amazon. Sadly, I couldn’t find it on Kindle, or I’d have it in my hands already. Sounds fascinating.

    Without having read it, though, I’d suggest that voluntary giving is a much better road to the Meaning of Life than coerced giving.

  8. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hi Patrick, I’ll probably try to figure out how to join the Elephant here this weekend. Looks like a fascinating place with lots of areas (bikes and sustainable living come to mind) that appeal to me. Hope I’m not too out of place, here, though! I’m pretty sure I have a different understanding of the working of economics than most (all?) people here.

    Which brings me to your deep and excellent response. I agree completely with everything. All of it. Except the economics… “When government is starved, the poor get starved first.” My understanding of economics would be more like this… “When government is large, so is the underclass.” Yep, that declaration will certainly place me solidly outside the understanding of all y’alls here at the Elephant!

    Nevertheless, good day to you all!

  9. lindsay shea says:

    this is a very authentic piece – thank you Tracey Lake

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