by Fran Korten
In 1986, at the age of 26, Chuck Collins, the great-grandson of meatpacking giant Oscar Mayer, gave away his trust fund. He was working on forming community land trusts for affordable housing and helping mobile-home residents pool their resources to buy their parks as cooperatives. Collins wanted to stand on the same economic ground as the people he was helping. So, much to the consternation of his parents, he gave away his fortune.
Much to the consternation of his parents, he gave away his fortune.
By 1995, Collins had co-founded the nonprofit advocacy group United for a Fair Economy. Later he formed Wealth for the Common Good, which recently morphed into the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy individuals who advocate a tax system that serves regular Americans. He has worked with Bill Gates Sr., Warren Buffett, members of the Rockefeller family, and others to successfully fight the repeal of the federal estate tax. He is currently a senior scholar at the Washington, D.C., policy group Institute for Policy Studies.
In his latest book, Born on Third Base, Collins tells the story of his origins and the 30-plus years he has worked to rectify economic inequality.
Collins sat down with YES! to talk about growing up with the 1 percent, his unusual approach to fighting economic inequality, and what progressives need to do under a Trump administration.