First in a three-part commentary on the fiscal cliff.


In this holiday season, we Americans have some¬ work to do. The election season is over. We face a fiscal cliff. It will be a turning point for our country. Our history points to the things that must be done.¬ 

First, our founding fathers pointed us in the general direction that we, the people, were granted certain unalienable rights. While the founding fathers gave great credence to their belief in the Master of the universe, they were certain that the diversity of their faith should be the strength that compelled them to create a country founded upon the human desire and human will of freedom.

Without doubt, I am certain God can help us, but I am equally certain Americans need bold leadership from the top of the economic pyramid. Our present society has devoted itself to thinking we are entitled to freedom for free. This is where the elite class of Americans need to step forward in the public debate.¬ 

Second, when estate taxes were 48 percent or higher, great wealth was still accumulated. During World War II the top tax rate was 90 percent. The United States, as a country, was at war against tyranny. Today, the fiscal cliff is looming and we are lacking a defined tax policy for taxing the incredible wealth created by industrious persons who have flourished in our country, protected by our country and secured by the blood of the ordinary citizen, called our Armed Services.

If a fortune is made in this country and protected by this country, it is not un-American, at a time of emergency, to think that a large portion of that gain should be taxed. Taxation of the very rich is the leadership so sorely needed. This leadership must come from the persons who have gained the most and have the most to lose should we fail. This leadership must be based upon a sense of duty and must come from those who have enjoyed great prosperity. If the rich would rise as one voice to raise taxes, with a plan, it would be a time of extraordinary persons causing the work to be done to transition and posture this country for another 200 years of success.¬ 

Third, history shows us what others have risked. In 1776, incredibly wealthy Americans put not only their wealth, but their very lives on the line when they proclaimed our freedom from tyranny. In 1941, people like George Bush answered the call to go to battle, putting not their investments or profit on the line, but rather their lives on the line to fight for the concept of freedom and the destruction of tyranny.¬ 

This is 2012 and we have an economic battle and we must pay our debts. We all know that two things must happen. We need new and additional tax revenue and we need to cut spending. This is where we need leadership from the elite class who in the past answered the call. This country is the greatest place on Earth, not because we can create wealthy persons, but because Americans have a greater sense of responsibility to the concept of freedom. Americans, rich or poor, know that our country cannot continue to live off of borrowed money. We must make a correction in the course of our country. The first step is leadership. Leadership to say the prosperous should be taxed greatly and leadership to define a plan of success.¬ 

I predict that the whispers of wisdom received from Washington will be gridlock. Republican or Democrat, they are all more worried about re-election than doing what is best for our country. When this country was founded, when this country has been at war, when we get to the economic cliff, it is not the ordinary citizen who can provide this leadership.

True American leadership comes from the persons who have the most to gain and lose. In the past, they invested their lives for the concept of freedom. I respectfully suggest that with great wealth comes greater responsibility. It is time, once again, for great leadership and it has historically come from the top of the economic pyramid. I urge these persons to collectively answer the call of their country. History reveals that no president or Congress can do this. It must come from those who have the most to gain or lose. Your country needs you now.

Gerry Schultz has practiced law in Garden City since 1984.