Sunday, May 19, 2024

Generous Billionaire Vows to Donate Entire Fortune to Those in Need

Marlene Engelhorn,⁣ a​ wealthy heiress from Austria ‍and Germany, ​is embarking on‌ a unique journey of giving back.​ Her story challenges traditional ​ideas of wealth inheritance and taxation as she seeks ‍to redistribute her ‌substantial inheritance, which she received from her​ grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto. In‍ September⁢ 2022, Marlene ⁢inherited an estimated $4.2 billion, a fortune she believes she acquired purely by⁤ chance,⁣ referring to it as a stroke of luck in the “birth lottery.” This‍ unexpected⁤ windfall has prompted her to take action and advocate for wealth redistribution.

Marlene’s family’s wealth comes ‍from their historic chemical company, BASF, founded by ⁤Friedrich Engelhorn⁢ in 1865. The Engelhorn family also previously owned Boehringer ‌Mannheim, a pharmaceutical‍ and ⁣medical⁣ diagnostics equipment company, until⁣ its sale ‌for $11‍ billion‌ in 1997. With Forbes estimating the family’s net worth⁢ at $4.2 billion, ⁤Marlene Engelhorn found ⁢herself in a position of ‍immense privilege and power.

However, what sets Marlene apart⁢ is her ⁣strong belief in the need for wealth redistribution.‍ She openly expressed her dissatisfaction⁢ with Austria’s lack of inheritance‌ tax, which was ‍abolished in 2008, ‌making ​it one of the few European countries‍ without a death tax. In her own⁣ words, “I have inherited⁤ a ‍fortune, and therefore ⁣power, without⁤ having done anything for ​it,‍ and the⁤ state​ doesn’t even want taxes on it.”

This conviction drove⁢ Marlene to take ⁤action even before her inheritance materialized. For over⁢ a​ decade, she⁣ actively campaigned for tax policies that would impose ⁣heavy taxes ⁤on her wealth and promote government-led redistribution. She co-founded “Tax Me Now,” a group ⁤of affluent individuals in Germany who advocate for higher taxes on⁤ their earnings.

In August ‍2022, Marlene made headlines⁤ when she participated in a Millionaires ⁣for Humanity event in Amsterdam, where she campaigned for higher taxes on the wealthy. Her dedication to this cause is evident in her commitment to⁣ donate approximately 90 percent of her inheritance.

But Marlene’s⁣ philanthropic efforts go ​beyond personal financial contributions. She aims to involve the public in‍ the⁤ decision-making process ​by establishing ⁤a citizens’ group known ‍as⁤ the⁤ ‘Good Council for Redistribution.’⁣ She sent out 10,000 invitations to randomly⁤ selected Austrian citizens⁢ aged over ⁤16, inviting them ⁣to ‌participate in ⁣this ⁤initiative.

Interested participants can register online or by phone, with 50 individuals ultimately⁤ chosen to participate, ⁤along ‌with​ 15 substitutes‍ in case of dropouts. These participants will engage in meetings held⁤ in Salzburg⁢ from March to ‍June, collaborating ⁤with academics and civil ‌society organizations. Marlene’s‌ vision ‌is to assemble⁤ a diverse council representing various age groups, social classes, and‍ backgrounds.

Marlene firmly believes in wealth ‌redistribution, even in the absence ⁢of effective political action. She stated, “If politicians don’t do ⁣their ⁤job and redistribute, then ‍I have to redistribute my wealth myself.” Her hope⁤ is to see her wealth put to good use in addressing societal inequalities and injustices.

To ensure inclusivity, the⁢ meetings will provide childcare services and cover travel costs, offering each⁤ participant $1,300 for each attended weekend.​ Marlene views these discussions⁤ as a “service to democracy” and intends to fully​ entrust her assets to the chosen 50 individuals, emphasizing, “I have no veto rights.” However, in the‍ event that the council cannot reach ‍a decision on how to allocate the funds,⁣ the money will revert to Marlene.

Marlene’s‌ journey ⁤is not just about⁢ the ⁣redistribution of wealth⁢ but also about challenging the⁢ notion of ⁢privilege and acknowledging⁣ its role in ⁢society. She recognizes‍ that her upbringing in a mansion‌ with privileges like a garden‌ gave​ her a narrow perspective ⁣of the‌ world. She now strives to ‌use her‍ privilege to bring about positive change.

In a video ​posted by Millionaires for‌ Humanity in May 2021, Marlene boldly ⁣stated, “Millionaires should not get to decide​ whether or not they contribute in a just way to the societies they live​ in,‍ and ‍without which they would never have become millionaires. ⁣Social justice is in everyone’s best ‍interest. Wealth taxes are the least we can do to take responsibility. Tax us.”

Marlene’s actions have ‍sparked a broader debate on inheritance tax in Austria. The Social Democrats⁤ advocate for⁣ its reinstatement, while the People’s ⁢Party, the current senior coalition partner,‍ opposes it, emphasizing its stance against new taxes and ⁤its commitment to increasing net income for citizens.

Marlene​ Engelhorn’s story is one ​of profound ⁢social consciousness and a commitment to ‍using⁤ her privilege⁤ for the greater good. Her journey challenges conventional notions of wealth and power,⁢ inspiring⁤ us ‌to reevaluate our roles in‌ promoting a ⁢fair and‍ just ⁢society. In a world where wealth often ⁢begets more wealth,​ Marlene’s ⁤actions stand as a⁢ testament ⁤to the potential of individuals‌ to effect meaningful change, one substantial ‍inheritance at ⁣a time.

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