Guest Editorial


mencken's ghostA letter to Robert Rubin from someone he wants to plunder

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Dear Mr. Robert Rubin:
Your biography is awesome: a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, a law degree from Yale Law School, the general partner and co-chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs, the Assistant to the President (Bill Clinton) for Economic Policy, the Treasury Secretary under Clinton, the recipient of Presidential Citizens medal, a member of the governing board of Harvard University, the interim chairman of Citigroup, and a special advisor to Citigroup, where you earned tens of millions of dollars as the company was on the brink of bankruptcy and was accepting taxpayer bailouts.


Unfortunately, your ethics and sense of fairness suck.

As you wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, you want the federal government to reinstate the estate tax and plunder peons like me. Like your fellow Democrats, you justify the expropriation with platitudes about fairness and about the USA being a meritocracy and not an aristocracy. As such, you believe that children should earn their money and not have it bequeathed to them by their parents.

Does that apply to your son Jamie?

Was Jamie accepted by Harvard College and then Yale Law School strictly on merit? Or was he a legacy admission due to you graduating from both schools and being on the board of Harvard? If the answer to the latter question is yes, how much was your help worth? Please put a dollar figure on it.

And what is the dollar value of Jamie having career doors opened for him on Wall Street because of your connections? Did he become a vice president at New York merchant bank Allen & Company strictly on merit or because of his last name? Similarly, how did he become partner of BC Partners, the international private equity firm? And wasn’t he responsible for BC Partners buying a medical care company for $3.1 billion--a company, coincidentally, that will make a lot of money from ObamaCare. Do you smell the stench of a political insider deal?

Since you no doubt know how to do a present-value analysis, it would be interesting if you would calculate what your help will be worth to Jamie over his career, expressed in current dollars. Five million? Ten Million? Fifty million? One-hundred million?

Shouldn’t he pay a 50% tax on this imputed value of the connections you bequeathed him?
It’s only fair, you know.

Of course, if you really lived by your stated principles, it would have been even fairer if you hadn’t let him use your name and network to get into Harvard and Yale and to get ahead on Wall Street. Heck, the fairest thing would have been to put him up for adoption.

You’re getting the gist of this, right? In case you’re not, here’s the gist: Your connections were worth a lot more to Jamie than the money I was planning to leave to my son. Yet you think that it’s right to take my money after you’ve given Jamie every advantage you could.
Don’t feel embarrassed. You’re not the only brazen hypocrite in our ruling class. Many former and current politicos have inherited their political power and positions from their politico parents, or have bequeathed their political power and positions to their offspring, or have given lucrative positions to their offspring at Fannie Mae and other government-connected companies. Kennedy, Daley, Bush, Reid, Biden, Cuomo, and Murkowski are just several of the hundreds of names. Many of them support the estate tax.

My son, who is attending a public university and majoring in engineering, won’t inherit a name and connections that will open doors and let him jump ahead of people who have more merit. If it weren’t for your ilk, he’d inherit the small estate of his grandmother, a working-class woman with a high school degree who pinched pennies all of her adult life and made some wise investments. He’d also inherit the small estate that my middle-class wife and I want to leave him – an estate that was built from scratch through hard work and living below our means.

If you and your ilk were to let our son inherit the estates, he might be able to afford to send his own kids to Harvard or Yale, where they could learn mush about fairness and redistribution and become an arrogant, unprincipled, two-faced jackass like you. Hmm, on second thought, maybe you’re right about the estate tax.

Mencken’s Ghost

“Mencken’s Ghost” is the nom de plume of an Arizona-based writer. He can be reached at