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Heiress Crowdsources Wealth Redistribution Of Her $27 Million Fortune

Source: Shutterstock / Wikimedia Commons

The concept of wealth redistribution has long been controversial. Yet, in recent years, there have been efforts by some wealthy individuals to give back to society. One unique approach is taken by 35-year-old heiress Cari Tuna, who has created an innovative citizen council to help guide her philanthropic efforts.

With a personal fortune of over $600 million, Tuna aims to make an impact by listening directly to the perspectives of everyday citizens on where excess wealth could best create positive change. This council provides an intriguing model of crowdsourced guidance on large-scale charitable initiatives.

Background of Marlene Engelhorn

Marlene Engelhorn is an Austrian heiress who inherited a significant fortune from her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto. The inheritance is part of the wealth accumulated by the Engelhorn family over generations, tracing back to Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of BASF, a major German chemical company.

Source: Lorena Sendic Silvera

According to publicly available information, Ms. Engelhorn inherited an estimated $27.1 million from her grandmother. She has expressed intentions to give away up to 90% of her inherited fortune, stating that she feels it is unfair to have accumulated wealth without personal effort.

Engelhorn’s Grandmother and Her Wealth

Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, Marlene Engelhorn’s grandmother, who passed away in September 2022, was an heiress who inherited great wealth from her ancestor, Friedrich Engelhorn. Friedrich Engelhorn founded the chemical company BASF, which grew into a highly successful global corporation.

Source: Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen

According to Forbes estimates, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto had accumulated an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion at the time of her passing at age 95. The vast majority of this immense fortune was inherited rather than earned directly by Traudl.

Inheritance of Part of The Big Pie

Upon her grandmother’s death, Marlene Engelhorn inherited an unspecified portion of the $4.2 billion fortune. Published reports indicate that the amount Marlene inherited totals approximately $27.1 million, though the exact figure has not been publicly confirmed.

Source: Unsplash Alexander Grey

While grateful for her family’s success, Marlene Engelhorn has been an outspoken critic of tax laws that enable the ultra-wealthy to accumulate vast sums without paying what she feels to be their fair share to society. Her new “Good Council for Redistribution” initiative controls how $25 million of her inherited wealth is allocated into the hands of 50 randomly selected Austrian citizens.

The “Good Council for Redistribution” Initiative

The “Good Council for Redistribution” initiative addresses wealth inequality in Austria by developing ideas to redistribute assets more fairly. Heiress Marlene Engelhorn has committed 25 million euros to fund the initiative. She is placing her trust and a significant portion of her fortune in the hands of 50 randomly selected Austrian citizens.

Source: Fabrice Coffrini

The council will comprise a diverse group across gender, origin, income level, and other demographics reflective of the Austrian population. Over six weekends from March to June 2023, they will meet in Salzburg. There, they will receive educational presentations from experts on wealth distribution, taxes, and the societal impacts of inequality.

Recruitment Process for 50 Chosen People

Engelhorn is recruiting 50 random Austrians over 16 to participate in the “Good Council for Redistribution.” This group will comprise people from diverse backgrounds, including different age groups, federal states, social classes, and life experiences.

Source: guterrat

The recruitment process will involve sending out 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrians. The goal is for the 50 chosen people to accurately reflect the diversity of Austria’s population in terms of gender, origin, income level and other demographic factors.

The Good Council for Redistribution

Those selected will be asked to meet over six weekends from March to June 2023. They will receive expert presentations on wealth distribution and its societal impacts. The experts will come from political science, economics, philosophy, and philanthropy.

Source: Facebook Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung

The chosen participants will use these inputs to jointly develop ideas and solutions for a more equitable distribution of assets to benefit society overall. Engelhorn stated she has no veto rights over the group’s decisions. She is fully trusting the 50 people regarding redistributing the 25 million euros.

Guter Rat “Good Council’s” Responsibilities and Approach

The Guter Rat, or “Good Council”, comprises 50 randomly selected Austrian citizens over 16. This group aims to reflect the diversity of Austria’s population in terms of gender, origin, income level, and other demographics. Their purpose is to serve democracy through their service on the Council.

Source: Facebook Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung / Wikimedia Commons

The Council has full autonomy over the decision-making process regarding the allocation of funds. Ms. Engelhorn stated she will place her full trust in them and not exercise veto power over their choices. Experts will provide data and facts about the current wealth gap in Austria to inform the Council’s discussions.

Compensation and Logistics of The Guter Rat “Good Council” Attendance

The 50 randomly selected citizens who comprise the Guter Rat “Good Council” will be compensated for their time and input. This is to ensure accessibility and participation from people of all backgrounds. Each member will receive approximately $1,300 per weekend conference they attend. Travel expenses to the meetings in Salzburg will also be covered.

Source: X Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung / Wikimedia Commons

Childcare services and interpreters will be provided on-site on weekends to accommodate attendees’ needs. With these accommodations and stipends, the goal is to provide adequate support so any chosen participant can fully engage with the council and decision-making process.

Who Is Guter Rat “Good Council”?

The Guter Rat “Good Council” is an independent citizen council of 50 people selected to reflect Austria’s diverse population. Established in 2023 by philanthropist Marlene Engelhorn, its purpose is to develop proposals regarding the distribution of wealth and assets in Austria.

Source: guterrat

These randomly selected citizens will meet over six weekends from March to June 2023. Throughout this process, they will receive expert briefings on wealth distribution and its societal impacts. Presenters come from academia, research organizations and the nonprofit sector.

The Guter Rat “Good Council” Manifesto

The wealth inequality in Austria is stark – the top 1% own half of the country’s net wealth, while the bottom 99% share the remaining half among almost 4 million households. This concentration of wealth leads to an imbalance of power and influence.

Source: X Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung / Wikimedia Commons

To address this, heiress Marlene Engelhorn has taken matters into her own hands by founding the Guter Rat (Good Council). This independent council of 50 randomly selected Austrians will meet over six weekends to develop ideas on wealth redistribution.

The Guter Rat “Good Council” Experts Involved

The Guter Rat (Good Council) will receive input from experts in various fields to provide context and perspectives on wealth distribution and its impacts. These experts come from diverse backgrounds, including political and social sciences, economics, philosophy, and philanthropy.

Source: X Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung / Wikimedia Commons

Their presentations will cover the current status quo of wealth distribution in Austria, ideas for potential changes, and examples of how redistribution could work beyond just donations. All information, data, facts, and content shared will be made publicly available on the Guter Rat website for transparency.

The Guter Rat “Good Council” Partners

The Guter Rat initiative has partnered with several organizations to provide expertise and support for the project.

Source: X Guter Rat fur Ruckverteilung / Wikimedia Commons

These partners include:

FORESIGHT Institute: FORESIGHT is a think tank focused on developing new economic and social models. They provide research and policy analysis to support the goals of wealth redistribution and social justice.

Jaksch and Partner: Jaksch and Partner is a strategic communications firm consulting on the messaging and public relations approach for Guter Rat. They help communicate the initiative’s goals to the media and the general public.

Newsroom: Newsroom is an independent media organization in Austria providing journalism services to cover the Guter Rat process and meetings. Their reporting lends credibility and transparency.

Hanna Fasching: Hanna Fasching is an expert in participatory democracy consulting on citizen councils’ selection process and methodology. She ensures diversity and inclusion.

Rematic: Rematic is a software company building a custom digital platform to facilitate communication, idea collection and voting for the Guter Rat councils.

BioHost: BioHost provides sustainable event hosting and catering services for the in-person Guter Rat meetings, minimizing environmental impact.

This coalition of partners lends substantial expertise in communications, democratic processes, technology, and event planning to make the Guter Rat initiative robust, inclusive and transparent. Their collaboration gives credibility to the experimental effort to crowdsource economic solutions.

Enlightening The Public on Wealth Distribution and Redistribution

The “Good Council for Redistribution”, led by Marlene Engelhorn, aims to tackle wealth inequality in Austria through an innovative approach centered on civic participation. By bringing together a diverse group of citizens to deliberate on solutions, Engelhorn hopes to spark broader public discourse and pressure policymakers to implement reforms.

Source: TEDxVienna Magazine Cherie Hansson

The outcomes of this experiment remain to be seen, but the model itself sets an important precedent. Rather than relying solely on government action, Engelhorn has catalyzed a citizen-led process to address a systemic issue.

Inspiration To Others

If successful, the Council could inspire similar initiatives focused on wealth redistribution and other policy challenges. The quality of the group’s recommendations and the public’s reception will largely determine the impact.

Source: Nurith Wagner-Strauss

At a minimum, the project spotlights how extreme wealth concentration contradicted principles of equal opportunity and shared prosperity. Bringing transparency to these issues is a vital first step toward reform.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

The Council’s ideas will hopefully receive thoughtful consideration from the media, civil society groups, academics and legislators. While the participants lack formal authority, their diverse perspectives and thoughtfully developed proposals could add productive nuance to policy debates.

Source: B Niehaus/Shutterstock

By ceding some control over her substantial inheritance, Marlene Engelhorn has demonstrated civic leadership and a willingness to have difficult conversations. Her trust in regular citizens could motivate others to view public policy challenges through an inclusive, collaborative lens.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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