Inheritance and Equality

Inheritance and Equality

I grew up in a small lower-class suburban town (just outside of Los Angeles), in a stressful parenting environment, with a large number of siblings (from the same parents). Being the youngest, I endured taunts and ridicules by my older siblings... I had one brother, with schizophrenia, that magnified the hardship for all of us—especially when he would go crazy. I didn’t like to bring friends to my house. During lunch, in elementary school, I had a great deal of shame using my broken wooden “lunch pass” to get a free meal while the other kids paid cash with pleasure and satisfaction. I also felt shame at the doctors office, when the receptionist would call out “Got your Medi-Cal*, hun?” Hun, being short for “honey”—as if that made things more tolerable… I also experienced discomfort when my mother pulled out “food stamps” to purchase food at the grocery store—or when she didn't do the math right—and had to remove items in front of the annoyed clerk... I must admit, it was difficult for me to acknowledge that I was poor. I was told repeatedly that there was no shame or humiliation in it. To keep my chin up.

FLASH FORWARD—both of my parents have passed away. Clearly, no inheritance for any of us… No gifts, not even at crucial junctures in our lives (college graduation?). However, it got me thinking about parents that DO HAVE inheritance distributions… And about EQUALITY.

INHERITANCE is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies. The rules of inheritance differ between societies and have changed over time.

INHERITANCE DISTRIBUTIONS SHARPEN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE USE EQUALITY AS A DISTRIBUTIVE PRINCIPLE.

When pressed, parents STRONGLY BELIEVE in distributing their wealth “EQUALLY” to ALL THEIR CHILDREN. Ironically, the statistics show that the distribution of inherited wealth is very UNEQUAL the VAST MAJORITY of times. For example, a son takes over a thriving multi million-dollar business, yet the daughter is given the balance of the actual inheritance amounting to far less than the value of business that was initially given to the son. Perceptions of injustice have soured family relationships for generations... Parents are nothing more than a MIRROR of government. In unity and in division.

When disability benefits are unfairly denied to a mentally or physically disabled person, by a government, system, judge or institution, an uncomfortable fight for disability benefits breaks out. Similarly, when an unfair inheritance distribution between siblings arises, family members require judicial resolution as well.

The “duty of parents” related to inheritance distributions may include:

•Avoiding “envy” between siblings

•Achieving family harmony

•Roles

•Relationships

•Status

•Financial assistance

•Genetic/name intergenerational continuity

•Protecting children

•Protecting vulnerable/disabled siblings

•Oversight

In September 2012, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, "over 60 percent" of the Forbes richest 400 Americans "grew up in substantial privilege". In a blog post at the London School of Economics, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman show that, in America, the wealthiest 160,000 families own as much wealth as the poorest 145 million families, and that wealth is about 10 times as unequal as income.

The wealthiest 160,000 families need to adopt us—and offer us a small inheritance. ;) My crazy thought for the day...

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* ”Medi-Cal” is the State of California’s free health coverage for low-income children (it continues today, but following the 2007-08 U.S. financial crisis and the election of President Obama, it now includes adults).

14 Replies

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  • Interesting narrative, wrong community.

  • Gerald, maybe it's unreasonable of me to make a connection between depression and poverty, but I'm telling you—poverty changes the human soul, mind and spirit...

  • Richard I understand what you are saying but you are only concentrating on the negative as always. Think what your parents did give you - life, a home. love, food etc.

    My parents didn't leave me a penny but I have worked all my life and made my own money. You know what I have discovered? Well it is much easier obviously if parents have helped out financially, but you know what? I find being independent and relying on my own resources have given me a much greater sense of pride and self esteem. I never had an easy life and most people don't do they? What you work for is yours and no one elses and you haven't got to repeat the patterns of the past - unless you choose to?

    You are only a victim if you choose victimhood, I don't, I choose survival and refuse to be shackled as far as possible by my past. Only you can change your life but you have to think positively and not in the negative. Bev x

  • Regarding "you are only concentrating on the negative, as always." Bev, how do we correct the negative if we don't concentrate on it? Sometimes concentrating on the negative brings about change. That's all I'm saying...

  • Hi Richard. Because you can't change the past, you can only change your present and your future. By all means have talking therapy to understand the past but concentrating on it the way you do will not change anything.

    The past isn't necessarily negative but try and see it in a positive way. It had made you the person you are today and are you happy with that? Think about the positives I mentioned in my other reply.

    Life is about making yourself the kind of life you want or at least the kind you can endure, it's about your mindset.

    I don't agree that concentrating on the negative can bring change - all it brings is discontentment and unhappiness. You are are using up all your energy in this rather than on your future. And that is what's important. Bev x

  • "Life is about making yourself the kind of life you want." Bev, this is the old unchanging slogan they've been handing down to Americans for decades... "Hard work guarantees prosperity!!!" Only one problem, millions of hard working Americans do not have prosperity. That is why analyzing the negative and correcting it is important.

  • Regarding "...concentrating on (the past) the way you do will not change anything." Bev, imagine you're a woman in the United States in 1917, engaging in a woman's suffragists parade in New York City, some self-hating women on the side lines throw food at you, but you concentrate on the negative—a denied right of women to vote. Your efforts inspire change! And in 1920, women earn the legal right to vote!! News flash: Concentrating on the negative past can change the future! Focusing on the negative is being courageous. And I know you want to be on the side of the courageous!

  • Regarding "You are only a victim if you choose victimhood." Another ill-founded slogan... Bev, I'm shocked sometimes at your statements! I don't think anybody chooses to be a victim. Victims murdered in robbery attempts, victims denied jobs, victims denied housing, the list goes on and on.... In all your life, Bev, you've NEVER been harmed or injured as a result of a crime, accident, or other event?

  • Yes I have Richard several times. But I have moved on from them. I think we will have to agree to differ Richard. Bev x

  • Bev, I understand you strongly defend the rejection of unacceptable truths and emotions, always proclaim negative experiences are BAD for you, that you must REMOVE them from your consciousness at all costs—but I find that solution a wee bit cowardice. Denial does not correct clinical depression. It's not a robust solution. Acceptance is a POWERFUL treatment for depression. Science is bringing us closer and closer to this realization.

  • Hi Richard I think lots of people did not have a perfect childhood, but move past it

    And concentrate on now, you are the author of your own destiny. Why do I

    Get the feeling that you are stuck with n your past? I do t think parents

    Have any duty to leave wealth to their kids, Make your own money and

    Make your own happiness and try not to concentrate on the negative. You are

    Alive and educated and articulate so your family must have been not so terrible.

    Hannah

  • Hannah, I understand you want to remove every single excuse I have for my shortcomings, but imagine for a second if the U.S. government followed your suggestion and decided to ignore the past. A U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission would have never been created to discover the causes of the 2007-08 financial crisis. Governments are no different than people. We create our own inquiry commission to set sail for a new bright future. The past, the present and the future are all important.

  • You are absolutely right, parenting should ideally be equal and caring and nurturing and provide for their children's needs... Poverty does leave shame and feelings of inferiority for many people, especially when people around them are not as poor - to stand out as inferior in any way is shameful for children. However most people struggle to do what they can within their own limits emotionally, physically, materially, socially and in every other way. We have to live with the consequences of the kind of parenting we were given and perhaps the most important thing we can each do is to try to do our best for the next generation, try to break the patterns of the past so that our children do not have such a hard time of it. If we can't manage that economically we can at least manage it with enjoyment of our children and sharing with them the feelings of love they raise within us. If we can only do that our children will feel good about themselves whatever their economic situation.

    Suexxx

  • Sue, very well said! :) I also strongly agree we must do the best with the cards that have been dealt to us... Whether you have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illness, vision loss or blindness, speech or language disorders, a chronic illness—we must try and push forward.

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