« TypePad | Main | Boiling a Frog »

January 30, 2004

Comments

gene chapman

The best way to resolve the tax issue you describe, in my humble opinion, is to lower the effective tax rate such that only essential services are funded by taxes. All else is benevolence and is a function of the church and the individual to fund, not the state. It is to take the position of Scrooge to assume that benevolence is to be funded through the state. There should be zero labor taxes, as this is slavery. There should be zero real estate taxes, as this is slavery. I see only a tax on increase from assets in Holy Scripture, knowing that the Bible is the presupposition for our system of Government in America. Slavefreedom.com

Alan Bacon (sui Juris)

Americans (legal immigrants, etc.) making money IN America from American sources are NOT "required to file" the Income Tax!

Only foreigners (non-resident aliens) making money in America from American sources,

Americans in foreign countries making money from foreign sources, and

Americans making money from foreign or possessions sources are "required to file".

[The above is from IRS Code: Sub-chapter N, Section 861 describing "sources" . . . ]

The Income Tax is NOT on income, is an indirect tax and SHOULD be (but isn't) uniform !!!

Income is the measure of a "revenue taxable activity" that gets taxed [alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, certain licensed occupations and corporate status].

The "graduated income tax" is a plank in the Communist Manifesto!

adam

Bravo! I applaud your candid, and noble statement. I've been amazed lately to read just how rigged the tax system is towards the top 1%, and even more towards the .1% of the US. I recommend a new book by NYT Pulitzer prize winning author David Cay Johnston, Perfectly Legal.

I'm afraid that your position won't be shared by enough of the super-rich however. Until we get real, meaningful campaign finance reform - the political donor class will keep this skewed tax system in place.
Cheers!
adam smith

Rohit

Can't you avoid the estate tax by transferring all of your assets into a foundation or trust when you die? Then the assets would be given away to charity, all without 50% being confiscated by the federal government and redistributed according to the relative political clout of various member of Congress.

I think the second big issue with the estate tax is for people who start businesses and then want to pass them on to their heirs, oftentimes the business has to be liquidated or sold just to generate enough cash to meet the tax bill.

Areb the areb

Kind 0f misleading, those so called tax cut for the rich havn't taken effect yet. Its only been the lower and middle class tax cuts so far. I make 50,000 per year and i have seen a large tax cut. My nephew the Endodontist is still paying through the nose on his 500,000 taxable income (230,000) payed last year.

I dont beleive for a moment your diatribe about wanting to pay more in taxes, Your political posturing is the problem with this society, As far as im concerned the amount of maoney you make shouldnt be the determining factor,everyone should pay the same rate. you liberals want equality for everyone exept hard working famalies or individuals.

Thank you for your time

Adam

I just wanted to say thanks for having the courage to spark the discussion here, Pierre. I've been talking with friends over the last week about tax cuts and the one thing I now realize is that everyone has a strong opinion about this issue (either for or against) -- just like a lot of issues raised during the George W. Bush administration. Love him or hate him, W's policies sure do motivate everyone to take a side rather than stay in the middle.

Pierre Omidyar

Exactly, Rohit, and that's part of the problem with the estate tax as it was previously structured: people that want to pass their business on to their children can't without paying punitive taxes. The solution to that problem is to raise the exemption amount so that most family businesses won't be taxed at all.

And yes, you can avoid the estate tax by giving your entire estate to charity. Some argue that it's *because* of the estate tax that very wealthy people do this: they'd rather trust a public foundation board than Congress to find the best use for their wealth after they die. Now, with a permament repeal of the estate tax, that incentive is no longer there: so, a wealthy person might say they'd rather not give it to charity, and inherited dynasties would be built, potentially with no public interest.

Areb, the fact that all the tax cuts haven't taken effect yet doesn't prevent discussion of the President's proposals. In fact, it's better to talk about them while they're being proposed and hopefully discussed in Congress, than after the fact.

Finally, I didn't think I was posturing, though of course you're entitled to your opinion. Your statement that everyone should pay the same rate of taxes results in a regressive tax, meaning that poor people will pay a higher portion of their income on various taxes than the wealthy -- don't forget the other taxes like sales, gasoline, etc. This is bad news.

Everyone should pay their fair share, recognizing that the wealthy can afford to pay more than the poor. Someone earning $2 million per year can afford to pay an extra $20,000 in taxes. Someone earning $20,000 a year probably can't afford to pay an extra $200 in taxes, and even if they could scrape it together, it isn't fair to ask them: $200 in tax could represent a full week's worth of work for them, without pay. That's doesn't sound fair.

Lance Brown

Pierre,

One problem with the "everyone should pay their fair share" as exercised through government is that the amount that is everyone's fair share ends up being defined via political machinations and power plays, rather than being truly reresentative of the public interest. I mean, "everyone should pay their fair share" is essentially the premise that I think these folks are already operating under. It's just that they have their interpretation of that, just as you and I each have what we would think that means. Which is why it's troublesome to have a body trying to answer that query on behalf of our 280 million different opinions. How many people's vision of "fair share" distribution do you imagine the Congress is capable of coinciding with?

Also, a top-down blanket determination of what's good for everyone -- in any realm, including finances -- is not going to be properly responsive to a dynamic economy. Everybody does different things with the resources they are able to muster. You say that giving a rich person a $20,000 tax break is a waste, but would it be so if that $20,000 was then given (by the rich person) to a soup kitchen, to fund its annual food budget? I dare say that would be a better use of the $20K than the federal government could manage to pull off. How does it stack up against what 100 poorer families would do if given $200 each? That's hard to say. But it's not cut and dry that it would bring about a greater good than it would if the money were given to a rich person. That $20,000 could be turned around by a wealthy person into a year's salary for someone at the entry level. Would that be a worse or better use of the money than $200 to each of 100 families? I don't think there's a self-evident answer to that.

You're presumably a wealthy person who has made big things out of various smaller things. I.e., you are productive and successful. Do you really feel that dollar for dollar, the federal government could and would do more good for the suffering people in America than you could with the motivation and the same amount of money?

Imagine if Ford and Rockefeller had given their fortunes to the government rather than starting their foundations. Isn't it true that that money would have long ago been squandered, and have provided little if any lasting long-term results? Instead, both foundations continue each year to fund a vast multitude of projects of social improvement across the country and the world. And as to whether that needs to be encouraged via the tax laws, it's my understanding that Carnegie, Rockefeller, Bill Gates, and George Soros (to name a few) all made decisions to devote their fortunes primarily to philanthropy not to due the tax benefits, but due to personal decisions and committments to doing good with what they had amassed. Given that such philosophies and changes of heart are achievable without the use of coercion, I see it as much preferable to seek them without that means.

In other words, the wealthy and super-wealthy can be motivated and empowered to fix and save the world without the intervention or coercion of government. Since that's true, it seems like the ethical thing to do would be to approach the project (of using money distribution to provide for social needs) from that stance, rather than through a system of bureaucratic cloggery and politically-motivated economic policy. Which is what it will be indefinitely if left in the hands of the Bipartisans.

Pierre Omidyar

Lance,

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. You seem to be making the following points:

1. the political process can't be depended upon to safeguard the public interest
2. one size does not fit all and is not responsive a dynamic economy
3. $20,000 distributed among 100 people is not necessarily better for the public interest than if concentrated in the hands of a single wealthy person
4. wealth is put to better use for the public interest via private foundations than via government spending
5. wealth has more positive impact in the hands of individuals than in the hands of government
6. incentive via the tax code is not necessary to encourage the wealthy to give to philanthropy

I hope I'm accurately characterizing your points. At the risk of dramatically under-responding to each, let me take a quick stab.

You say: 1. the political process can't be depended upon to safeguard the public interest. I have to respond that the political process is the only system we've been able to come up with to safeguard the public interest. It clearly doesn't always work -- in fact, it may work only rarely. However, I have never heard of a system (other than a benevolent dictatorship) that works better. Our role as citizens has to be to get involved in the political process and make it better.

You say: 2. one size does not fit all and is not responsive a dynamic economy. I completely agree in principle. I wonder what a self-organizing, bottom-up tax code would look like? Maybe we should let taxpayers pay only what they think they ought to pay?

You say: 3. $20,000 distributed among 100 people is not necessarily better for the public interest than if concentrated in the hands of a single wealthy person. When framed in that manner, it's hard to disagree with the point. There is no objective right or wrong answer to that question, as it depends on the people involved and what they do with the money. A wealthy person could just as easily squander the $20,000 on something non-productive as invest it back in the economy. A poor person with $200 could just as easily buy food for themselves or lottery tickets.

My point was that $200 to someone that makes $20,000 feels like a more important amount of money to that person than $20,000 would feel to someone who makes $2 million, even though they are precisely the same in theoretical terms.

You say: 4. wealth is put to better use for the public interest via private foundations than via government spending. I'd have to say there are probably good examples on both sides. The federal highway system had a pretty significant impact on our economy, and probably would never have been undertaken by a foundation. Private foundations are (or should be) more risk-tolerant and can therefore experiment with ways to contribute to the public interest that government could not do.

You say: 5. wealth has more positive impact in the hands of individuals than in the hands of government. Related to 4, I'd have to generally agree but acknowledge that it's obviously dependent on the type of individuals, and that there are plenty of examples of good government programs that have significant impact.

Maybe one way to think about points 4 and 5 is that government is clearly less risk-tolerant due to the political process, and will therefore invest more conservatively. Using a financial markets model as a way to think about this, that would imply that government would seek low, safe, steady returns on its investments. Private individuals and foundations are more risk-tolerant, and would seek high-risk, high-return investment, resulting in more spectacular successes (and failures). I think we've probably seen examples of this in the real world.

You say: 6. incentive via the tax code is not necessary to encourage the wealthy to give to philanthropy. This may be true in some cases, but I think the consensus in the philanthropic world is that the tax incentive is very important.

If what you claim was true, professional philanthropists and foundation executives wouldn't insist that the tax incentive was important. They insist either because they really believe it's important, or because they want the incentives for themselves out of greed. In either case, this tends to disprove your point.

Thanks again for your thoughtful contribution to this discussion.

Lance Brown

Pierre,

Thanks for your thoughtful rebuttals. At the risk of having this unfold into a dangerously large accordion of a discussion, let me try and respond in some part.

You characterized my points more or less correctly, except I would make two key adjustments:

4. wealth *can be* put to better use for the public interest via private foundations than via government spending

5. wealth *can have* more positive impact in the hands of individuals than in the hands of government

Whether these things happen depend on the choices of those agents of change that have access to the funds (be they the individuals, foundations, and businesses, or the government). There have definitely been periods of history where the wealthy have been extremely self-serving, in disregard for everyone else. And there have been tilts in the other direction. It's up to the choices of individuals and groups of individuals-- societal pressures, awareness, all sorts of factors.

Currently there is sufficient wealth and productive capability on the earth (probably just within the U.S. even) to achieve virtually any goal we choose. It might take time, or money, or focus, but we can draft and implement an action plan to do anything we collectively set our minds to. The ability to use force -- government's only real unique asset -- is not needed to achieve these things. In fact, in most cases (outside the US even more than inside) the use of government force is the major obstacle to solving the array of social miseries that afflict so many places. If everything's fine, then there's not much need for people in power, so people in power have a vested interest in things never getting to be quite fine.


You posed that there was no known better way to safeguard the public interest, but as an entrepreneur, consider this:

Hunger. Some percentage of people in the U.S. suffer from hunger. The solution to that problem is combination of resources, distribution, education, and opportunity. All of those things can be accomplished by independent humans with enough assets and (human) interest at their disposal.

It's not really that complicated. Find the hungry people; find the people who want to help them not be hungry. Conduit resources from B to A. Help the hungry people learn what they need to escape hunger long-term, and have an opportunity available for them to actually make that escape. Rinse. Repeat until the nation is cleaned of hunger.

I won't be convinced that the will to end hunger does not exist. Simple math can prove that the resources needed exist (and then some). So what's failing must be the mechanism. Society's default mechanism in this day and age for solving any social ill is the government. Almost every problem has non-governmental solutions that are doing their thing, too, but increasingly, the role is defaulting to government-- tending toward the higher-level governments (state and federal).

Speaking via collective metaphor, if you took the amount of time we as a nation spend trying to find a solution to the national problem of hunger, the majority of that time is not being devoted to figuring out how a bunch of concerned citizens can appeal to the concerned folks with resources to get to hungry individuals and stop their hunger. Instead, the majority of that time (and money, and energy, and empathy) is being sapped by the political process, while achieving only limited real good on the ground, in people's stomachs.

To me, the idea of looking at government as if its the only known solution is ignoring the obvious-- which is that most problems can be solved if people simply go through the steps required to solve them. Force is not required to make people care, it is not required to make people be generous. The rest of the steps in the process are essentially management issues-- distribution channels, human resources, etc. we should wonder then what the heck is keeping us from achieving these relatively elementary processes of distribution and resource management. To me, there is a glaring culprit-- the political process, and governmental management of our society. On a greater scale, that is what keeps the people in so many third wrld nation down -- the management of their economy and affairs are done by a small group of powerful people at the top. The more that is the case, the worse off the people at large are in that country. there are the rare benevolent dictator successes I suppose, but even that is not a lasting solution. What are the chances of getting two consecutive efficient, benevolent dictators? they must be slim. Now what are the chances that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress will manage to get together and create a truly sustainable solution to our hunger problem, any time in the next generation? The chances are between slim and none -- and Slim just left town. If one batch of leaders manage to create something that could do some good, the next batch of folks will go in and start messing with it, and so on down the line.

The social issues we concerned citizens are supposedly so concerned about are too important to be thrown into a perpetual wrestling match. It just doesn't make sense, and it's not responsible, if we collectively really want these things solved as best they can be. You're right that government projects and forced redistribution of wealth can create good results sometimes, but it is not unique in being able to do so.

This might be mmy last point, but you brought up the highway system, which is actually a pet peeve of mine. I think I have two main points to make.

1. The government does not have unique talents in roadbuilding, nor does the federal have strengths that the states don't in that respect. The three main assets that the federal government brought to bear to create that national road network were: tax money, eminent domain land takings, and national authority over the network. I'd argue that all three were a bad idea. The national highway system did not benefit all taxpayers equally, by a long stretch. One look at a US map can show you that those who were near the highways benefitted economically, at what I would presume to be the detriment of those who were not placed in such a position. And this top down infrastructure project had a skewing affect on the lives of everyone for the generation it was built in, and consequently for their children and following generations. The massification of the cities, sprawl, pollution, the end of small-town culture, and countless thousands of specific spot shifts in people's lives in the 50's and 60's-- not all for the good, by a long shot. One could argue "greater good" in terms of the highway system ramping up efficiency and the economy, and fueling growth for everyone...but that doesn't change all the small towns that have dried up, or the demise of people getting their proverbial kicks on Route 66.

2. But I got distracted there, because the real point is that any given state, or two states, or region of states, or all 50 states, could have worked together to create commerce-friendly ineterstate highways. And the project could have occired from the inside out, instead of the top down. And if it had, it probably would have ended up slightly less efficient and mega-engineered, but it would have been much more attuned to the unique priorities and makeup of the various places. And maybe people who drove across the country would actually see the places they are driving through, instead of driving on these rigid (and often boring) mega-pathways across the country.

So I don't think the federal government was necessary to create a good national highway system, and I think it was an unhealthy development in a lot of ways -- despite the obvious "it made things faster and more connected" benefit to society and the economy.

I've been rambling a bit, but let me speak to one more thing you said, and then I'll have to close whether I've successfully made my points or not. :-)

You said "If what you claim was true, professional philanthropists and foundation executives wouldn't insist that the tax incentive was important. They insist either because they really believe it's important, or because they want the incentives for themselves out of greed. In either case, this tends to disprove your point."

My counter to that would be to say that the tax incentive is in part such a huge factor because the tax itself is huge factor. I don't believe that income should be taxed, nor should there be a death/inheritance tax. If there were no taxes restricting the use of the money at all, then the wealthy would decide what to do with their money based on the results they want to achieve with it. If many of them could then be convinced to do good things with it, and the market shifted to prioritize societal improvements and healthy business practices, then I bet most of that money would go fairly directly to producing solutions, through people who know how to make those solutions happen-- entrepreneurs, social workers, families, churches, etc.

Given a clear slate, with all we have learned we can do, through the Internet and so forth, I don't know why we would even go to the government for the solutions to most of these problems. They are mostly issues of information and networking, and those are things we can handle on our own now. The remaining factor is persuasion vs coercion, and I think giving persuasion a real chance to win the day is a much more promising venture than continuing to rely on coercion when it's both unnecessary, and largely ineffective.

I don't what will happen if we keep running with this discussion. My posts might just double in length each time. ;-)

Lance Brown

I'm sorry, I mistakenly posted that without previewing or proofreading it. What a mess! Yikes. I really am sorry it ended up like that. I'm more literate than that, I'm just tired and didn't get a chance to fix the mess.

In three cases above, I tried to add italics and they didn't take. One was quoting you toward the end, and the other two were in the first numbered items from your post, where I changed your verbs into "can" and and "can have"-- those were supposed to be in italics. Just FYI, after the fact.

Pierre Omidyar

Lance,

I've probably violated the first law of blog comments by editing your comment to add asterisks in the first two cases where you were looking for emphasis, and quotes in the final case where you were quoting me. (I was tempted to correct some of your ideological errors, but refrained -- kidding!)

I thank you again for your thoughtful addition to this thread. As you say, we could probably go on for quite some time, each time inflating our responses by 200%. I may take up that challenge a little later, but right now I just don't have the energy. :-)

Thanks again, though!

Lance Brown

Pierre,

Thanks for the fixes, and for the conversation. I'll probably keep tuning in and haunting you when I get a chance. The other day when I swooped in with my lecturious posts was the first time I've visited.

Be well, be free,
Lance

Sean

Dear Pierre,

If you care as much about civil society, as you sincerely seem to, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and invest in helping the Iranian people gain civic and human rights? Are you similar to people like Andre Agassi, who deny that they are even Iranian?

I am extremely proud of our amazing Iranian diaspora made up of people like you, Farzad Nazem (Yahoo!), Omid Kordestani (Google), Afshin Mohebbi (Qwest), Mory Ejabat (Ascend/Zhone), Shaygan Kheradpir (Verizon), Afsneh Mashayeghi Beschloss (World Bank/Carlyle Group), Kamran Elahian (Centillium), Bobby Yazdani (Saba).

The immense success of Iranians outside of Iran is proof that Iranians thrive in civic societies.
There are thousands of future Pierre Omidyar's in Iran who do not have the opportunities we Iranians abroad have been afforded. Imagine the impact that Iran as a democratic, civic society would have on the world. There are over 40 million young people under the age of 30 in Iran; the majority of whom are under the age of 20. I have been back for a long stay recently and I can attest to the thirst they have for freedom and democracy. They need a spark, an inspiring leader to make them demand the human and civic rights they were born with.

The irony of all this, of course, is evident when you read the quotes of Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, the first leaders in the world who recognized human rights.

I will leave you with these quotes to ponder and I ask you this: you know in your heart that your success is due to special mixture of your Iranian upbringing and genes meeting the right opportunities in civic and free societies in France and America. Do you only owe the debt to the former and not the latter?

Before I go
Persian king's last wishes

"As I am about to depart this world, twenty-five countries are part of the Persian Empire. In all of these countries, Persian currency is accepted, and Persians enjoy a particular respect in these countries. My successor, Khashyar Shah must, like me, work to retain these countries. And the way to retain them is to not interfere in their internal affairs, and to respect each country's religion and ritual.

As I am about to depart this world, you have twelve koroure in gold in the royal treasury; this gold is one of the pillars of your power. A king's power is not just dependent on the sword, but on wealth as well. Remember that you must add to this treasury and not diminish it. I am not suggesting that under dire circumstances, you should not take gold out of it, as the rule for this treasury gold is that it must be used when necessary, but at first chance, return what you have taken to the treasury. I am indebted to your mother Atousa, so you must, at all times, ensure her happiness and peace of mind.

For ten years, I have been busy building grain silos all around the country. I learned the method of building these cone-like stone structures in Egypt, and since the silos are intermittently emptied, insects do not thrive there and grain can be stored in these silos for several years without rotting. And you must continue the work of building these silos until the time when they can hold two to three years' reserve for the whole country. And each year, after the harvest, use the stored grain to eliminate shortages and replenish the silos after harvesting and this way, you shall never worry about foodstuff in this country, even if you face two or three years of draught.

Never appoint your friends, or intimate servants to governmental posts, since for them the privilege of your friendship should suffice. If you appoint your friends and servants to governmental posts, and they inflict injustice on the people, and abuse their position, you will be unable to punish them, since they are your friends, and you must bear in mind this friendship.

The canal I wanted to build between the Nile and the Red Sea is not yet finished, and finishing this waterway is very important from the perspective of the military and commerce. You must finish this canal, and the fees for passage of ships must not be so steep that captains will prefer avoiding it.

I have sent an army to Egypt with the task of bringing law and order to that land; I still have not had the chance to send a force to Greece. You must finish this work. Attack the Greeks with a powerful army, and make the Greeks understand that the Persian king has the power to punish those who commit atrocities.

My other recommendation to you is that you should never allow sycophants and liars in your entourage, since they are both plagues to monarchies; you should ruthlessly turn away all liars.

Never allow government bureaucrats to have dominion over the populace; in order to prevent such domination, I have passed tax laws, and limited the contacts between the people and bureaucrats; if you preserve these laws, the contacts between the people and government officials will be minimal.

Keep officers and soldiers of your army content, and never mistreat them. If you mistreat them, they cannot respond in kind, but instead, they will take their revenge in the theater of war, even if such revenge costs them their lives; their revenge will take the shape of inaction and surrender, and through this they prepare the ground for your defeat.

Continue the education reforms that I began, and allow your subjects to learn how to read and write and increase their intelligence; the more intelligent they are, the more you can rule with an easy mind. Always defend the faith of worshiping Yazdan, but never force any group to follow your faith, and always bear in mind that everyone should be free to pursue whatever faith he or she desire.

When I bid farewell to life, wash my body, and enwrap me in the shroud I have prepared, and put me in a coffin made of stone and place me in my grave. But do not cover my grave, thus allowing yourself the chance to occasionally come to the tomb and see my stone coffin, and remind yourself that there lies my father, a man who authoritatively ruled over twenty five countries, and now he is dead, and I too shall one day die like him.

It is human fate to die, and it makes no difference whether you are a king of twenty-five countries or a poor wood-gatherer, and no one remains eternally in this world. If you do not visit my tomb every time you have a chance and see my coffin, pride and selfishness will overcome you, but when you are near your death, order them to close my grave, and then in your will, ask your son to keep your grave open so that he can see the coffin holding your body.

Never, never be a judge and a prosecutor in the same case, and if you have a claim against someone, ask an impartial judge to adjudicate the case, and issue a judgment. Since if someone who is the claimant is also the judge, he will invariably commit injustice.

Never cease the work of developing the country. If you cease the work of development, the country will inexorably fall into a state of disarray. It is a rule that a country that is not improving falls into desolation. In the work of developing, the construction of new aqueducts. (ghanats), the building of new roads and the establishment of cities must be giving top priority.

Never forget forgiveness and generosity and know that after justice, the highest quality for a king is forgiveness and generosity. But mercy must be offered when the injustice has been committed against you; if the offender has committed an injustice against someone else and you pardon the crime, you have committed an injustice yourself, for you have ignored someone else's rights.

I will say no more. I have made these statements in front of those who are now, in your absence, in attendance; I want them to know that I have made these suggestions before my death, and now to leave me alone, as I feel the hour of my death is near."

Cyrus's Declaration of Human Rights:
http://www.derafsh-kaviyani.com/english/humanrights2.html

"I am Cyrus, the king of the world, great king, legitimate king (son of Cambyses) whose rule Bel and Nebo loved and whom they wanted as king to please their hearts.

"When I entered Babylon as a friend and established the seat of government in the place of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord (induced) the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon (Din Tir) (to love me) and I daily endeavored to praise him. My numerous troops walked around in Babylon in peace, I did not allow anybody to terrorize (any of the people) of the country of Sumer and Akkad. I strove for peace in Babylon (Ka Dingir ra) and in all his (other) sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon (who) against the will of the gods (had/were I abolished) the corvee (yoke) which was against their (social standing). I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting an end to their main complaints. Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds and sent friendly blessing to myself, Cyrus, the King, who reveres him, to Cambyses, my son, as well as to all my troops, and we all (praised) his great (name) joyously, standing before him in peace I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad who Nabonidus has brought to Babylon (su sa na) to the anger of the lord of the gods unharmed in their chapels, the places which make them happy.

May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities ask Bel and Nebo daily for a long life (six lines destroyed) and always with good words remember my good deeds that Babylonians incessantly cherished me because I resettled them in comfortable habitations I endeavored to strengthen the fortification of Imgur-Enlil and the great fortification of the City of Babylon the side brick wall by the city's trench which the former king (had built and had not finished). This was finished around (the city), that none of the former kings, despite the labor of their yoked people, had not accomplished. I rebuilt and completed with tar and brick and installed large gates entrances were built by cedar wood covered with brass and copper pivot I strengthened all the gates I saw inscribed the name of my predecessor, King Ashurbanipal."

On this historical turning point, by order of Cyrus, all the captive nationalities held as slaves for generations in Babylon were freed and the return to their homeland was financed. Among the liberated captives were 50,000 Jews held in Babylon for three generations whose return toward the rebuilding of their temple in Palestine, a policy that was followed by Darius and his successors. Some of the liberated Jews were invited to and did settle in Persia. Because of such a generous act, Cyrus has been anointed in the Bible. He is the only gentile in the Bible, who has been titled Messiah, an is mentioned explicitly as the Lord's shepherd and his anointed (Messiah). Other references to Cyrus are attested in Isaiah 45:4 where Cyrus is called by name and given a title of honor; he is also called to rebuild the God's city and free His people (Is. 45:13) and is chosen, called and brought successful by God (Is. 48:14-15).

What took place after the victory in Babylon was contrary to the standard of the time. Based on the inscriptions of the neighboring countries (Assyrians, Babylonians), it was customary to destroy the vanquished cities, level houses and temples, massacre the people or enslave the population, replace them with snakes, wolves and even carry away the soil to make the land barren. But here, peace and liberty replaced the massacre and slavery, and construction substituted for destruction. After Cyrus, his son Cambyses ruled for eight years (530BC to 522 BC) and captured Egypt, and as a sign of respect toward their culture and religion, he prostrated himself before the goddess, Meith and paid homage to Apis, the Egyptian totem (Bull).

After Cambyses, Darius took over the throne and ruled form 522BC to 486BC. From 518BC to 515BC he established peace and tranquility in Egypt and also paid homage to their totem, Apis. Darius, in his inscriptions, expresses faith in the commands of Ahuramazda. He declares "Whoever worships Ahuramazda, shall receive happiness in life and after death." He calls Elamites faithless, and because they did not worship Ahuramazda, yet he does not pressure them to change faith. Darius exhorts his successors "thou shalt be king thereafter, protect yourself from the lies and punish the liar and deceitful."

He entreats God's grace for the protection of Persia against rancor, enemy, famine and the lie. At times he alludes to other gods that may either indicate the old Aryan gods who still had strong followings or the gods of other nations under his rule, for the display of reverence toward their religions.

REFERENCES:

A. Arfaee, The command of Cyrus the Great (in Persian), quoted the opinion of Sydney Smith.

Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles, p110, dates the fall of Babylon on Oct. 12th and Cyrus's entry on Oct 29th.

J. B. Pritchard, The ancient Near East, Vol. 1, 1958, p203.

A fragment in the Yale's Babylon collection was identified in 1970 by P.R.Berger, the professor of Munster, Germany, as part of Cyrus's cylinder that was transferred to the British Museum and added to the cylinder, who wrote in the journal of Assyrology (Zeiserrift fir Assiriologie), July 25, Vol. 64. The remainder of the text is quoted from A.

Arafaee, which was the missing portion kept in Yale University. Bible, 2 Chronicles 36:15-23
Bible, Ezra 1:1-11, Ezra 2:12-70
Bible, Ezra 7:8
Bible, Ezra 6:3-4-5
Bible, Ezra 7:15-25
Bible, Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1


Sean

This should have said:

"I will leave you with these quotes to ponder and I ask you this: you know in your heart that your success is due to special mixture of your Iranian upbringing and genes meeting the right opportunities in civic and free societies in France and America. Do you only owe the debt to the latter and not the former?

Pierre Omidyar

Sean,

Thank you for the fine quotes from Darius and Cyrus. I can tell you that like most immigrant Americans, I am proud of my unique cultural heritage. I have also committed substantial resources, without calling attention to myself, to causes that relate to my Persian heritage in particular.

I know many of the people you mention. Andre is a friend of mine, and a wonderful person. Your implicit criticism of him as a human being is unfair.

I wish many of my fellow Americans of Persian heritage took note of Darius' admonition, which you quoted: "Never appoint your friends, or intimate servants to governmental posts, since for them the privilege of your friendship should suffice."

Successful people of all backgrounds are often solicited by others who share their cultural heritage, with the expectation of special favor due to them solely based on the common heritage. They should take note of Darius' admonitions.

Again, thank you for sharing the fine messages from our Persian heritage.

Sean

Dear Pierre,

The fact that a man of your busy schedule has the humility to take time to respond to my message is the reason you are as successful as you are as young as you are.

You are right. Nepotism is the very reason for the grand failure of Iran as a nation. It has broken the back of the nation. It astonishes me how wise the first great kings of Iran were and far we have strayed from their guidance. Nepotism is alive and well in the Iran of today. I can only imagine how many Iranians have approached you for money! On their behalf, I apologize for the porooness of our people!

The fact is that Democracy is a way of life. It is not an institution; not a structure you can erect over night. Iranians are not democratic people' from the microscopic level of the family to macroscopic level of the society Iranians do not live their lives in a democractic way. From the father demanding tea to the Mullah demanding nuclear arms, Iranians live their lives undemocratically and without regard to the normal rules of give and take rule civic societies and democratic cultures.

If you accept this fact that we are not democratic people I leave you with this question:

Have you been to Dubai in the Emirates? People are extremely happy, business is booming, buildings are rising, highways are being built, foreign investment is booming. Is it a democracy? No. Is it a civic society? Yes. It is an amazing, unexplainable mystery as to how it works but it does.

What Iran needs to go through a metaphormasis and learn the art of a civic society is the following:

Iran needs a Cyrus the Great. It needs a Darius the Great. It needs a charismatic, ethical, kind, visionary leader who they can flock to and who leads the country in the civic way that Cyrus the Great lead. That leaders mission, much like Ataturk did in Turkey, would be to create infrasctructure and cultural reformation that is needed for democracy take root and merge with a new civic society.

What Iran needs is YOU! I have decided to start a website collecting signatures from Iranians from all over the world to nominate you to become the new King of Iran. You and Queen Pam will be the saviours of Iran and radically transform the lives of over 70 million people and help bring peace to a region that needs it.

It sounds crazy, which of course it is, and I am sure you will say you are not interested in being King of Iran. However, could you imagine the response!!! I am sure that I will collect millions of petitions from Iranians (I will make sure the IP is coming from Iran) who will vote to have you become their King. After your rule, you would relinquish your rule, and institute a democractic system when the country is ready to adopt one fully. KingOmidyar.com!!!

Btw, if Andre is your friend please ask him to let people know he is of Iranian descent. He would do a lot to help improve the images of Iranians around the world. A reporter asked him if he was of Iranian heritage and he answered in the negative. If I am wrong about this then I would agree with you and say I was unfair and uninformed. But if it is true that he denied he was at all Iranian then I think you would agree with me that he should correct that statement and make all Iranians around the world proud.

My email is seanpaul@rome.com. Ping me there sometime if you have any thoughts on my new draft Pierre for King movement :)

Sean
Webmaster
KingPierre.com :)

omid

I second the nomination for king. I also second the idea of supporting up and coming Iranians. Give me some money. Help a nepotistic sand junkie whose trying to forge his way into the world. I'm looking for a hand up, not a hand out. I'm just a poor starving student with nothing in the world but hope, yes the very name I was given. Help a nigga out. Parviz jon, you are so handsome. Sean, if you're out there, please facilitate this argument. You make me love being Iranian P. I love even more that you're so humble and rich...give me just a little...I love you Parviz jon (subtitled, "Pierre, my dear"). Pool beddeh! (subtitled, "give money!").

adam2

Pierre,

If a very wealthy individual feels that the estate tax is a good idea, and regrets the fact that it is under attack, there is nothing to stop that individual from simply writing a check to the IRS or the Treasury Department for an amount in excess of the tax he deems to be too low.

Would it be more effective for you, Soros, Gates Sr., Buffett, et al to write these checks directly to the government rather than publicly lobby for support of such tax legislation? (More effective in that more money would go straight into the system that purportedly provides for the basic welfare of the populace. More effective in that such check-writing would speak much louder than mere public endorsement.)

If a wealthy person advocates that a tax dollar can render an x-percent increase in marginal social welfare, surely he would be willing to give most all of his “surplus” wealth to the tax-funded system—without legislative coercion.

If the government is an axiomatic black box of social welfare (in goes capital, out comes an improved society) why do you insist on paying the government only if it taxes you?

Kind Regards,

Adam in Burlingame, California

Pierre Omidyar

Adam,

I'm assuming by the tone of your post that your point of view is that government has a less beneficial social welfare impact than the private sector. I am certainly no fan of government programs as the sole source of social welfare -- which is why I'm devoting myself to making the world a better place directly, rather than uniquely through my government. But at the same time, government does have an important role to play.

The issue isn't whether I think I should be taxed more -- and therefore could easily remedy the matter by writing a donation check to the IRS -- the issue is of the statement of priorities a government makes when it dramatically reduces taxes on the wealthy, while modestly reducing taxes on the middle class, all in an environment of increased borrowing from future generations.

When the bills come due, so to speak, under these policies, the middle class will foot the bill -- not the wealthy. Tax increases are inevitable, whether direct or indirect, in order to pay for the $700 billion in tax cuts headed to the wealthy over the next ten years.

I am therefore simply trying to point out how irresponsible it is to voluntarily reduce tax revenues collected from less than 1,000 of the wealthiest people in this country.

If your point of view is that no government revenue is ever put to good use, then you clearly will favor *any* reduction in government revenue. But most people don't seem to feel that way when it comes to their particular issues being funded. And in any event, that's a completely different conversation.

But following that thread for a moment, I think it's simply unreasonable to say that we want to cut government revenues across the board -- but let's start with tax reduction for the wealthiest, and we'll get around to the vast majority of the population later. If you believe the government burden on its citizens is too great, then you should insist on reducing that burden in a thoughtful, sensible way. "Let's start with reducing the burden on the wealthy" doesn't seem to pass that test, in my opinion.

Sean

The Draft Pierre Omidyar for King of Iran Movement is about to be launched! The website is almost ready to be launched. I just wanted to check if you have any objections to us collecting signatures on the internet to nominate you to be the next Shahanshah of Iran. Let me know before we launch.

Cheers,

Sean
Webmaster
KingPierre.com

Hamid Reza Fattahi

Dear Mr Pierre Omidyar

I am a journalist in IRAN . I couldnt find your Email ,so i send This comment to you:
I want to conduct an interview with you , so if it is possible please let me send you the questions. If you inform me i will send you the questions instantly.

Regards

Hamid Reza Fattahi

Hamid Reza Fattahi

Dear Mr Pierre Omidyar

I am a journalist in IRAN . I couldnt find your Email ,so i send This comment to you:
I want to conduct an interview with you , so if it is possible please let me send you the questions. If you inform me i will send you the questions instantly.

Regards

Hamid Reza Fattahi

Amin

Pierre,

--I wish many of my fellow Americans of Persian heritage took note of Darius' admonition, which you quoted: "Never appoint your friends, or intimate servants to governmental posts, since for them the privilege of your friendship should suffice."--

Just because Darius said this, does not make it right. You can trust your friends better than others, and if your relationship is strong enough, you can be honest enough with each other to be able treat them objectively if they are an employee.

--Successful people of all backgrounds are often solicited by others who share their cultural heritage, with the expectation of special favor due to them solely based on the common heritage. They should take note of Darius' admonitions.--

Well I think this is ok because they're part of your race and therefore part of your extended family. When you help them, you help the genes particular to you propogate.

Of course, thus far, you have been such a great success compared to me, that I feel like I almost have no right to comment on your philosophy of life.


Adam,

---If a very wealthy individual feels that the estate tax is a good idea, and regrets the fact that it is under attack, there is nothing to stop that individual from simply writing a check to the IRS or the Treasury Department for an amount in excess of the tax he deems to be too low.

Would it be more effective for you, Soros, Gates Sr., Buffett, et al to write these checks directly to the government rather than publicly lobby for support of such tax legislation? (More effective in that more money would go straight into the system that purportedly provides for the basic welfare of the populace. More effective in that such check-writing would speak much louder than mere public endorsement.)---

I believe wealthy people that advocate increasing the taxes they are obliged to pay do so because they do not want to carry the burder of helping the poor alone. They feel it is everyone's duty to help out, and they don't want to give a sizeable portion of their wealth while other rich folks don't.

Amin

Pierre,

--I wish many of my fellow Americans of Persian heritage took note of Darius' admonition, which you quoted: "Never appoint your friends, or intimate servants to governmental posts, since for them the privilege of your friendship should suffice."--

Just because Darius said this, does not make it right. You can trust your friends better than others, and if your relationship is strong enough, you can be honest enough with each other to be able treat them objectively if they are an employee.

--Successful people of all backgrounds are often solicited by others who share their cultural heritage, with the expectation of special favor due to them solely based on the common heritage. They should take note of Darius' admonitions.--

Well I think this is ok because they're part of your race and therefore part of your extended family. When you help them, you help the genes particular to you propogate.

Of course, thus far, you have been such a great success compared to me, that I feel like I almost have no right to comment on your philosophy of life.


Adam,

---If a very wealthy individual feels that the estate tax is a good idea, and regrets the fact that it is under attack, there is nothing to stop that individual from simply writing a check to the IRS or the Treasury Department for an amount in excess of the tax he deems to be too low.

Would it be more effective for you, Soros, Gates Sr., Buffett, et al to write these checks directly to the government rather than publicly lobby for support of such tax legislation? (More effective in that more money would go straight into the system that purportedly provides for the basic welfare of the populace. More effective in that such check-writing would speak much louder than mere public endorsement.)---

I believe wealthy people that advocate increasing the taxes they are obliged to pay do so because they do not want to carry the burder of helping the poor alone. They feel it is everyone's duty to help out, and they don't want to give a sizeable portion of their wealth while other rich folks don't.

The comments to this entry are closed.