The Impact of Power and Wealth

This study paper seeks to explore the subject of power and wealth amongst the human population. The information in this discussion will be from the Brown v. Board of Directors of Topeka et al, which was under the education policies. The case of Brown mainly sorts to abolish the segregation policies that were widespread in America. The second support information will be from Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection philosophy. This too explores the subject of power and wealth, whereby the rich and strong survive in any human population. Lastly, the paper will use the book “Death by 1000 Cuts”. The major controversy in this book is the role of power and wealth in abolishing estate tax.

Brown v. Directors of Topeka Education Board

In the case of Brown v. Board of Directors of Topeka, Chief Justice Earl Warren made a paramount decision that would change the education sector. “The race-based separation of black children into different but equal public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause” (Batten, pg28). Segregation of children in public schools exclusively on grounds of race disallows black children from the equal protection of the laws stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. The argument of the Board of Directors of Topeka was that all public schools had similar and equal physical facilities and equipments. On the other hand, the Board of Directors of Topeka did not allow the black children to access some nearby schools designated for the white people only. It was not logical for the public schools to segregate school-going children because of their race. Education in public schools is a human need, which must be made accessible to all citizens of America on equal terms. The basis of the ruling on the case was the role of public education in American life, and the separate but equal doctrine was not realistic. The separation of black children from others because of their skin color creates a feeling of inferiority as to their significance in the community. This will later on have an impact on the children’s minds and hearts in a way that can never be repaired. A sense of inferiority will affect negatively on the motivation of the children to learn and socialize with other pupils. “The Topeka school curriculum or any school curriculum cannot be equal under the doctrine of equal but separate” (Batten, 11). This was a response from one of the witnesses in the Brown v. Board of Directors- Topeka case. Topeka Board’s defense in the case was that the segregation system in education was preparing the black children for the future world. During these times, segregation in every field and education was acting as a stepping-stone for the future segregation. They actually believed that the segregation system had played a significant role in molding, prominent African Americans like Douglas Fredrick, George Washington Carver, and Booker Washington. To the judge of the case, Earl Warren, this argument was not logical, and the segregation policy in education had a dreadful influence on the black children. The issue of segregation had finally started to get resistance, and that not only the majority can win in such situations. From the above case, it is evident that during these times, the whites had more power and wealth and seemed to downplay the black population. The current society is one that requires fighting for survival because of the competitiveness of the individuals. This will be further explained by the Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection ideology.

Charles Darwin- Natural Selection

Survival of various species including human beings will depend on who is the strongest amongst the population. “A hornless stag or spur less cock would have a poor chance of leaving offspring” (Quammen, 16). According to Charles Darwin, the subject of natural selection implies that survival favors only the strong in the society. The struggle for existence is not evident only in human beings but also in nature. The best evidence for this ideology is a country facing physical change in terms of climate. In such a case, the proportional numbers of the country’s residents will undergo a change. This means that there are some people who will survive the change in climate, while others will not make it. From the understanding of natural selection, the ones who will make it in such complex and different situations will be those with the strength to face the calamities of change. The most powerful and strong species with unique and fertile qualities have high chances of surviving the tough times and passing their genes on to their offspring. The weaker species will succumb to the pressures of natural selection and hence will become extinct. From the above quotation, a hornless stag has little chances of passing its genes on to its offspring because of its weaker genes. Without horns, the stag will not be able to fight for the female counter parts in order to mate. Therefore, the stags with horns will have an upper hand in mating and, therefore, pass their genes on to their offspring. “In man’s methodical selection, a breeder selects for certain object, and free interbreeding will entirely stop his work” (Quammen, 26). In any natural setting, there will some factors, which will favor natural selection. In man’s world, only the best of breeds are selected for further breeding. For instance, a man keeping chicken for commercial business will only select those, which mature quickly or produce eggs at an early age. In the event the available breed does not match the required standards, it will be crossbred with a stronger breed to obtain better characteristics. This brings about the subject of intercrossing which has been a significant instrument in natural selection. Animals or human beings with weaker traits will always pair up with those with stronger genes and produce a much better breed.  Isolation favors the process of natural selection. In isolated areas, there will be many species bundled up together. In such areas, the species will tend to modify themselves to remain the best breeds in the area. Those species, which can best adapt to the area, will survive the process of natural selection. Through the subject of natural selection, it is almost certain that in the present situation only the powerful and strong will survive. In addition, natural selection explains that not only the powerful and rich people rule the world, but also those with some unique characters. We understand this subject through the analysis of Death by 1000 Cuts, a book explaining the struggle for eliminating estate tax in America.

Death by 1000 Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth- Michael J. Graetz & Ian Shapiro

In more contemporary context, we analyze the effect of power and wealth through taxes especially the estate tax, which had impact on the rich people.  “For several years the estate tax had influence on only the richest 1 to 2% of citizens encouraged charity and placed no burden on the vast majority of Americans” (Graetz & Shapiro, pg1). From the above sentiments, the foundation of estate tax was on a core American value that all people should have equal chances to follow their economic dreams. Unfortunately, the current generation seems to have dropped the ideology to the extent that a wide majority of Congress voted to revoke it. The subject of estate tax is relatively straightforward, which means that if an immensely rich person passes away in the USA, his or her estate pays a part of the worth of its assets to the government. The remainder goes to the children or any other beneficiaries. It is almost certain from past records that the estate tax was the beneficial part of the United States tax system. In the event a rich person died and had no charitable beneficiaries, then their wealth will not be allowed to pass on to the heirs. This American core value immensely promoted charity amongst the American society. “The story of the estate tax’s termination- an epic whose last chapter has to be written- is different” (Graetz & Shapiro, 1). It seems that the estate tax philosophy appeared overnight, and suddenly there was a popular crusade working towards its abolition. The move to change the estate tax’s approach was through groups gathered over time to prevent any splits when the time to rebel against the tax philosophy came. The elimination of the estate tax’s ideology came in time even before the opposition could marshal up enough support to oppose the move. More so, the Congress members in support of the change got support from the rich in the country. This is a clear indication of the impact of the rich and powerful people in the society.

In as much we would wish to lay the blame on the rich other social classes have a role in depleting the political arenas. “Contrary to common wisdom, the powerful and rich people did not send the estate tax into oblivion.” (Graetz & Shapiro, pg 3-4).  Unfortunately, the death of estate tax came not from the rich and powerful in America but from the ordinary citizen. Central to the obligation was the work of a small number of true believers who committed years of the lives to it. The middle class people got the morale to eliminate estate tax from the rich and without understanding the implication vouched for its elimination. The middle class people concentrated on the ideologies of what elimination of estate tax would do to them instead of  what the law was already doing. “For years Washington people viewed the ideology to revoke the tax as unachievable.” (Graetz & Shapiro, 4). For those who wanted to repeal the estate tax to succeed, they had to gain support of non-traditional groups. These comprised minority business owners, gay, and lesbian communities who are vulnerable to the tax. The repeal team also constituted the black community as they were urged to fight for their rights because they needed to enjoy their hard-earned money. In order to gain favors in the society, the rich manipulate other people with their money and illogical reasoning, just like in the estate tax case.

The rich have the power to manipulate the entire country in favor of their demands. “By 1990, this band of outsiders had united with Republican anti-tax ideologists, legislators, and activists, who regard all progressive taxation as morally obnoxious and economically destructive.” (Graetz & Shapiro, 5). According to the proponents of estate tax repeal, it aimed to relieve the richest members of the public from the burden of paying taxes, while not benefitting the average citizen. In this argument, repealing the estate tax will not have any substantial impact on the lives of Americans. The rich seemed to neglect the significance of estate tax in America which was to bring about equality in the sharing of resources. Estate tax was a way of the rich and wealthy giving back to the society and therefore the society can benefit. Eliminating estate tax will kill this tradition and there will be no chances of the society benefitting from the wealth accumulated by the rich. “Since then, removing all taxes on wealth has become an issue of Republican orthodoxy” (Graetz & Shapiro, 6). The repeal team had managed to bring several people together to back up the abolition of the estate tax system. Through portraying estate tax as targeting not just the idle but the working rich, the proponents managed to gain support in the Congress. By presenting the tales of small business owners or farmers faced with heavy penalties under the current scheme, pro-repeal tapped into the public Horatio Alger sympathies. The above discussion justifies the advantage of working as a group in order to survive in the present world. Those who wanted the elimination of estate tax united so as to have powerful coalition. The realization that the issue of social class would not ensure they get the vote on the estate tax matter saw them cal for support from the middle class people. The rich had to come up with an explanation of how eliminating estate tax would favor the middle class people so that they can be instrumental in voting out the law. The middle class was only used as a stepping stone to the success of the rich because chances of other people gaining much wealth were minimal.

The main way in which the rich could manipulate the middle class people is through the significance of their wealth. “Is inheritance a natural right or social privilege?” (Graetz & Shapiro,7). This question led to the middle class to vote for the repeal of tax with the notion they are helping their children get a solid start in life. More so, there was a moral argument that the estate tax only benefits fancy lawyers, expensive tax accountants, and the insurance industry. The process of estate tax only burdens families at the wrong time, which is upon the death of the family member. In this sense, inheritance seemed to be a social privilege instead of a natural right. Unfortunately, this notion by the wealthy people of America was out to help them to avoid paying estate tax which had been the custom since the time of the forefathers. The middle class people forgot to see the big picture of the argument the rich had fronted in an effort to scrap the estate tax. The elimination estate tax would kill the charity character most Americans had, and more so less people will want to give back to the society.  “Regardless of philosophical or political devotions, whatever one’s position on this tax or any other is, people need to know how politics and power operate in Washington today” (Graetz & Shapiro, 11). Unless Americans learn how these reforms, will damage their interests, and begin to see through the web of narratives that supported the first conservative breakthrough. From the above case, repealing the estate tax initially designed to offset some of the wealth inequality in America, will be detrimental to the citizens. Generally, upward mobility will suffer serious erosion if such reforms keep finding their way in the societies. The above cases have an in depth explanation of how the rich and powerful people manage to survive in this world. The powerful people include the wealthy; few political insiders who will want the political structures to have rules and guidelines that favor their various ways of living. The rich use their money to change the political settings and even have people they can manipulate in power so that they can still be in control of the country. The other classes of people in the society only move along to the demands and wishes of the rich. 

Power Structure Research and the Hope for Democracy by G. William Domhoff

The above discussion brings in the subject of power and who actually forms the political structures in America. "In Atlanta power was in the hands of a relatively few corporate leaders."(Domhoff, 4) In as much as most people in America will want to believe that they have a say in the power structures it is almost evident that this is not the case. It is common knowledge that only few people have a say when it comes to matters to do with power. According to the author, few corporate leaders were responsible for the power structures in America and these few people determine the policy formation and workings of the government. The political structures have different levels, which offer varied opportunities for the ordinary citizens to contribute their ideas and opinions. Unfortunately, the rich people of America have the last say on the policies and strategies to be put in place. The high and mighty had all the opportunities to manipulate the power structures in America because of their resources. "The great populations of Americans are controlled by a small number corporate rich, political insiders, and military warlords."( Domhoff, 7).  These few people came together in an effort to have power in their hands and this was through the manipulation of political structures in America. In order to survive in the highly educated American population, the few people need to have rules and guidelines, which favor their corrupt way of leaving. Political structures are responsible for outlining the policies, which govern the country and by manipulating the structures these few people ensure that the policies in place favor their lifestyles, deeds, and future generations. In the end, the common citizen is left struggling with the poor tax laws, unfair policies, and awful political structures. The idea of voting for leaders tries to put in place measures for the ordinary citizen to have a say in the operations of the country but the same elected leaders fall prey of the poor political structures. From the above sentiments, it is almost certain that the rich and powerful have the greatest say in the operations of America.   


From the above discussion, it is almost certain that the powerful and strong people will survive, but sometimes the world favors the minority. Ranging from the case of Brown v. Board of Directors of Topeka to natural selection by Charles Darwin, the struggle amongst human population is because of power and wealth. Those who think they can manipulate the poor and the poor fight for their rights. The rich use their money while the poor or middle class rely on the law to guide them.

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