Illustrations: Melanie Lambrick

The Rise and Spread of Excessive Wealth Disorder

How this so-called affliction became a rallying cry for liberal elites who want to tax the hell out of themselves

Chuck Thompson
Published in
16 min readAug 27, 2019

ByBy the time it was over, I half-expected a squad of cheerleaders dressed in Eisenhower-era outfits to charge out and exhort the crowd with an old-timey call-and-response: “Gimme a T! Gimme an A! Gimme an X!”

Instead, the two-day gathering of self-described Patriotic Millionaires in Washington D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel ended with a boozy salute.

“A toast to taxes!” shouted John Cavanagh, head of the D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, to the hundred or so attendees who’d made it to the bar after two days of speeches, presentations, and glad-handing. “To our love of taxes!”

Wearing a “Tax Me” pin on her jacket, the woman next to me raised a glass of pinot noir from Oregon’s B-Corp A to Z Wineworks (“Aristocratic wines at democratic prices”). I would have clinked with her but I was too busy scribbling notes with the “We Love Taxes” ballpoint pen I’d picked up earlier in the day, one of several pro-tax tchotchkes handed out over the course of the event.

Aside from military contractors, it’s rare to find a group of Americans so openly besotted with the idea of taxation. What made this collective of tax-friendly citizens even more remarkable is that all of them reside within a wealth bracket that offers all sorts of tax advantages, and for whom multifarious tax-avoidance schemes have become a kind of government-sanctioned shell game.

In late June, about 200 extremely wealthy people convened in a hotel ballroom a 10-minute walk from the White House to attend a pair of back-to-back conferences. On Monday, The Hunter Gathering — named for David Hunter, the “godfather of the modern philanthropy movement,” who died in 2000 — was a combination kickoff dinner and liberal symposium on the future of philanthropy. From battle-hardened ’60s-era crusaders to a younger generation of social justice warriors, speakers emphasized the need to change the broken “Charitable Industrial Complex,” which they asserted often serves as PR cover and a sophisticated legal tax dodge for the über-wealthy.

Aside from military…



Chuck Thompson
Writer for

Author of five books including Better Off Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, and the comic travel memoir Smile When You’re Lying.