Since Ronald Reagans supply-side tax cuts for the rich followed by other giveaways like eliminating the death tax so billionaires can pass on their fortunes tolucky heirs the United States has been on a mad dashto oligarchy, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting.According to Working for the Few, a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nations wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt. Just this past Tuesday, the 15th of April Tax Day the AFL-CIO reported that last year the chief executive officers of 350 top American corporations were paid 331 times more money than the average U.S. worker. Those executives made an average of $11.7 million dollars compared to the average worker who earned $35,239 dollars.
Mr. Moneybags from the Monopoly game
As that analysis circulated on Tax Day, the economic analyst Robert Reich reminded us that in addition to getting the largest percent of total national income in nearly a century, many in the one percent are paying a lower federal tax rate than a lot of people in the middle class.You may remember that an obliging Congress, of both parties, allows high rollers of finance the privilege of carried interest, a tax rate below that of their secretaries and clerks.
And at state and local levels, while the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average tax rate of over 11 percent, the richest one percent of the country pay are you ready for this? half that rate.Now, neither Nature nor Natures God drew up our tax codes; thats the work of legislators politicians and its one way they have, as Chief Justice John Roberts might put it, of expressing gratitude to their donors: Oh, Mr. Adelson, we so appreciate your generosity that we cut your estate taxes so you can give $8 billion as a tax-free payment to your heirs, even though down the road the public will have to put up $2.8 billion to compensate for the loss in tax revenue.
All of which makes truly repugnant the argument, heard so often from courtiers of the rich, that inequality doesnt matter. Of course it matters.Inequality is what has turned Washington into a protection racket for the one percent.It buys all those goodies from government: Tax breaks. Tax havens (which allow corporations and the rich to park their money in a no-tax zone).Loopholes. Favors like carried interest. And so on. As Paul Krugman writes in his New York Review of Books essay on Thomas Pikettys Capital in the Twenty-First Century, We now know both that the United States has a much more unequal distribution of income than other advanced countries and that much of this difference in outcomes can be attributed directly to government action.
Recently, researchers at Connecticuts Trinity College ploughed through the data and concluded that the U.S. Senate is responsive to the policy preferences of the rich, ignoring the poor. And now theres that big study coming out in the fall from scholars at Princeton and Northwestern universities, based on data collected between 1981 and 2002.Their conclusion:
Americas claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.Instead, policy tends to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.
View original post here:
Americas Mad Dash to Oligarchy