The History of Taxes, in One Mega-Rich Family


David Rockefeller has just passed away.

You may have already heard that news. You may have not. America’s major media outlets haven’t treated Rockefeller’s death — at age 101 — as a top-of-the-news story.

How things change. Once upon a time, any breaking news that involved a Rockefeller almost automatically qualified as news not to be missed. And for good reason.

A century ago, David Rockefeller’s granddad, John D. Rockefeller, ranked as America’s richest man. No other fortune in the United States — or the world — came even close in size to his.

Old John D. passed away in 1937 at age 97. Newspapers treated his death as a mega big deal. Front-page headlines everywhere. Editorial pages filled with reflections on his long and lucrative life.

One of those reflections came from America’s most noted 20th-century pundit, columnist Walter Lippmann. The nation, Lippmann observed, would likely never see a fortune as grand as Rockefeller’s ever again. John D. had “lived long enough to see the methods by which such a fortune can be accumulated outlawed by public opinion, forbidden by statute, and prevented by the tax laws.”

In the United States, Lippmann added, “sentiment has turned wholly against the private accumulation of so much wealth.”

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John D. Rockefeller raged mightily against that public sentiment over his life’s last decades. He fiercely denounced, for instance, the drive to enact a federal income tax.

“When a man has accumulated a sum of money within the law,” old John D. intoned, “the people no longer have any right to share in the earnings resulting from the accumulation.”

The people felt otherwise. A federal income tax became the law of the land in 1913. That tax would go on to whittle down the fortune John D. later left his six grandchildren.

The most celebrated of those six, longtime New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, would end up feeling intensely embarrassed about his diminished financial status, as one Washington insider discovered in 1974.

That insider, a veteran lobbyist by the name of Tom Korologos, vetted Nelson Rockefeller to be then-President Gerald Ford’s vice president.

“I’ve got something to worry about,” Korologos remembers Nelson grimacing. The former governor, Korologos soon learned, didn’t want to publicly reveal his personal financial picture.

“His concern,” the vetter explained, “was that when it became public, he wasn’t going to be as rich as everybody thought he was.”

What had happened to the fabled Rockefeller family fortune? Taxes.

Beginning in the early 1940s and lasting into the 1960s, the federal tax rate on individual income over $200,000 annually hovered around 90 percent.

And many states also had their own progressive taxes. In New York, the state tax rate on top-bracket income stood at 15.375 percent.

Deep pockets could, of course, deduct their state taxes off their federal taxable income. But those deductions didn’t change the basic bottom line: The extravagantly rich, in mid-20th century America, were losing their capacity to be extravagant.

Nelson Rockefeller passed away in 1979, just before the Reagan Revolution began undoing the progressive tax system that had so shaved his net worth. His younger brother David, a banker, lived on to prosper in the rich-people-friendly political environment the Reagan years ushered in.

Where Nelson watched his wealth shrink, David saw his wealth soar. At his death, Forbes magazine put David’s net worth at $3.3 billion, the world’s 604th largest fortune.

What would John D. Rockefeller think about how his last grandchild’s life turned out? He might be a tad disappointed that his flesh and blood no longer ranked as the richest of the world’s rich. But he’d probably be overjoyed that in America the rich still rule.

At least for now.

This piece was reprinted from Other Words by RINF Alternative News with permission.

  • buy the judge,key to cover up

    Rockefeller said…. i don’t want my nation to be thinkers..i want a nation of workers

  • buy the judge,key to cover up

    i stand guilty and i am proud of it..

  • buy the judge,key to cover up

    Rockefeller secretary exposed Rockefellers for looting fort knox of all gold.
    sectary quickly kills herself after she went to NY times and leaked the story

    • buy the judge,key to cover up

      The US taxpayer now owes the world 453,000 tons of gold which is almost 3 times all the gold ever produced in history.

  • joe

    Rockefellers made their fortune because they became the Rothschild franchisee for USA oil and banking including 1/3 of the the FED. Fortune est at 6 TRILLION while Rothchild est at $600 TRILLION

  • Rudy Campilii

    Hey pipe down everyone. We need those taxes. We need those taxes and we need them to be high. Why? Well how else are we going slaughter, carpet bomb, incinerate, rape, torture and kill millions and millions of innocent people in far off lands that have never ever done a thing to us. Oh and one other reason we need the high taxes is so they real owners of this country Jew bankers on Wall St and the owners of the private bank called the Federal Reserve can become fabulously wealthy. Oh and the other reason of course is for the children. sarc/off

  • buy the judge,key to cover up

    Rockefeller….competition to my tax exempt monopoly is a sin

  • starviego

    The first thing the ultra-rich do is exempt themselves from taxation.

  • ElGgggs

    They are to this day the wealthiest family in the USA .

  • robertsgt40

    Notice when discussing “family fortunes” the name Rothschild is never mentioned. You’d think with 250yrs of (central)banking “expertise” they’d get honorable mention. They control trillions.

  • buy the judge,key to cover up

    give me control of a nations money..and i care not who writes it’s laws…

  • amuncat

    He was afraid of dying. He’d had his 4th or 5th heart transplant at the age of 99!!! What good was this?!!! He died in his sleep…do you believe that?!

  • HP Austin

    A few years ago, when Rex Tillerson was CEO of Exxon, he stated that global warming was a hoax. David Rockefeller called a meeting with Tillerson and revealed that he had enough stock to have Tillerson fired if he did not retract his statement, which he did. The Rockefeller family is much richer than has been publicly admitted. And they are the viceroys for the Rothschilds in the U.S., with whom they have intermarried.