You’re a patsy if you agree with Michael Dell

Unless you’re a One Percenter, it makes no sense for you to be against taxing the rich with much higher marginal rates.

How far away are you from being a One Percenter?

On average, you’ll need to make $422,000.00 a year to become one.

Good luck getting there. Seriously. I hope lots of people reading this make piles of money if that’s their goal and how they measure success and are made happy. That’s for each individual to decide for themselves.

But, if you’re not a One Percenter and you’re cheering Michael Dell for asking to see the evidence of where and when higher marginal tax rates have ever worked, the answer, as the historian in this video from Davos points out and which is documented here, is the United States in the years right after WWII and during what many people see as this country’s greatest economic expansion for working class people.

And, yes, by most measures the American economy today can be said to be doing well, but shouldn’t the real questions be how well and for whom?

Look, even if you don’t give a shit about anyone else, and even if you’ve bought the lie of trickle-down economics hook, line, and sinker, and even if you think you’ll someday be a One Percenter if you just work hard, play by the rules, and vote Republican to get government out of your way, here’s the truth.

If that describes you, you’re a patsy to the One Percenters.

You have been duped, and you are siding with the very people who don’t give a fuck about you or anyone else. All they care about is money. Their money.

Be pissed off at me for calling you a patsy and accusing you of being duped if it makes you feel better, but here’s another truth you need to accept.

It’s not me voting for people who want to make the rich and powerful richer and more powerful.

Will 2015 be the year that right and left unite?

Robert Reich had this to say about a New York Times article, “Auto Industry Galvanized After Record Recall Year

Reich on NYT and GM

His closing question got me thinking about the corruption of money in our news and in our politics.

I often feel like what I’m hearing from the trickle-down and Invisible Hand believers is, “We need to protect money and companies first; otherwise, Money will take its ball and go home, leaving the rest of us without jobs.”

It’s all about fear for them. They want – no, they need – us to be afraid of them and each other, and corporate media is complicit in this fear-mongering.

The article and Reich’s comments had me asking myself, “Whether you’re a drug maker, a driller, a food company, a chemical company, or a car maker, don’t you have a responsibility to society to operate safely and within the law? Isn’t that also just smart business? Think about it. When companies make mistakes, it often (but not always) costs them something. Sometimes that something is money. Sometimes it’s time in the form of community service and even incarceration – although those seem to be more and more rare all the time – but time is money in our society, so doesn’t it makes sense to do the right thing even when no one is watching?”

Maybe I’m naive about capitalism. Maybe I’m just too optimistic about my fellow Americans, too, but how come Americans aren’t more united in our demands that corporations operate with one eye on the bottom line and the other eye on what’s best for society?

It makes common and business sense, doesn’t it? If big mistakes can cost so much in lives and treasure, why aren’t we as stakeholders in society and in the economy more unified in our outrage over the corrupting influence that money has on our business leaders, our media, and in our government?

Could it be that we’re not all operating with the same facts? It must be; otherwise, how is it possible that some of us think that the right thing to do is to make life even easier for corporations and the rich and powerful who run them instead of insisting that they “do no harm” while they make money?

In other words, why can’t capitalism have a conscience?

Two reasons, I think.

The first is that the tiny few who control all of our society’s wealth and power are, in fact, sociopaths fitting Merriam-Webster’s definition, “someone who behaves in a dangerous or violent way towards other people and does not feel guilty about such behavior.” They don’t seem all that interested in or concerned about what their behavior means to the rest of us. They seem only to care about their own wealth and power despite the fact that, as Fortune Magazine points out, “While inequality is a natural result of competitive, capitalist economies, there’s plenty of evidence that shows that extreme levels of inequality is bad for business.”

Income and wealth inequality haven’t been like they are now since the Great Depression.

wealth inequality
“Wealth inequality, it turns out, has followed a spectacular U-shape evolution over the past 100 years. From the Great Depression in the 1930s through the late 1970s there was a substantial democratization of wealth. The trend then inverted, with the share of total household wealth owned by the top 0.1 percent increasing to 22 percent in 2012 from 7 percent in the late 1970s. The top 0.1 percent includes 160,000 families with total net assets of more than $20 million in 2012.” – Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucmanin a post at London School of Economics, http://bit.ly/1tSNeyK

 

The second reason we don’t seem to be united in our outrage rests, I think, with the fact that far too many of us are duped by the media into agreeing with and even admiring the very richest and most powerful people among us even while they pass laws and make regulations that help the rich at our expense.

It cannot be denied that money in politics drives policies and legislation. Laws and regulations and the consequences for violating them, however, are different for us than they are for Big Money. If you ask me, the whole notion of what we call “government” these days seems to be a system designed by the rich and powerful to empower the already rich and powerful; “…the wealthiest 160,000 families <who> own as much wealth as the poorest 145 million families.”

Too many people want to claim that both parties are equally to blame for our problems. Others are too eager to profess that our one-sided economic recovery – it’s a recovery on Wall Street and for the wealthy – is slow in coming for everyone else because of the policies of so-called tax-and-spend liberals and Democrats.

Neither sentiment could be further from the truth.

alecRepublicans at least since Reagan and on through to George W. Bush have made their political careers lying to us with their blaming of government for all of our woes. What they’ve never bothered to tell us is the truth: they are beholden to the likes of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – the secretive, “…nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives that drafts and shares model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States,” – has been writing state and federal laws and regulations for the GOP for decades.

lessigWhen I talk about Big Money, I’m referring to the 0.000042% – yes, that’s four zeros to the right of the decimal, or 42 one-millionths of Americans and just 132 people – whom Larry Lessig tells us are responsible for 60% of all SuperPAC money.

I’m also referring to the people who sit on boards and who run at the highest levels the biggest corporations, the largest insurance companies, and the Wall Streeters who capitalize and profit, as the crash of ’08 taught us, from both the ups AND the downs that they themselves create.

All of that money coming from so few has corrupted our media and our government. What was once bad has become worse thanks to the Citizens United and McCutcheon SCOTUS decisions. These rulings were affirmed, mind you, only by the GOP-appointed judges, and it was those decisions that created an even more rigged electoral, legislative, and judicial system. These are now systems that essentially allow the perpetrators of inequality and lies to dictate through their proxies in government and in the courts what is and what isn’t legal; what is and what isn’t a just punishment; what is, if any, just compensation and to whom it is paid for their mistakes – willful or accidental – that cause economic, psychological, and even physical harm and death.

If you’re a car maker that knowingly produces cars with a defect that kills people, are even the billions of dollars you must pay justice if no one goes to jail for it?

If you’re the CEO of a chemical company that pollutes the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians, what does justice look like to you for those people?

dimonIf you’re Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, or any other banker who knows they are too big to jail and too big to fail, why wouldn’t you operate with impunity and without regard for how your decisions impact the rest of society unless, of course, the answer is, “Because you’re not an effing sociopath, that’s why.”

And, what about our news media’s role in all of this?

Amidst everything happening in state capitols, boardrooms, and in DC, the corporate media continues to feed America a steady diet of things like the annual War on Christmas, the Ebola panic, the invasion of immigrant children, and missing jets. Anything akin to the first three, in my opinion, is a sad commentary on our intellect as a society, while the latter is simply a sad story which some apparently are attributing to…..wait for it….the metric system.

What other conclusion are we to come to except that corporate/mainstream news is a charade? It’s just one more way for the media conglomerates to make money by selling our ever-diminishing attention to their advertisers.

Corporate news media does not serve to educate or inform us. It does not reveal what we must know in order to consider what we must do as citizens to change and reform what needs changing and reforming the most – the corrupting influence of Big and Dark Money in all levels of our government.

This isn’t meant as an insult – I’m a regular Times reader myself – but if you don’t think that money is what drives corporate news media then you’re not paying close enough attention.  Corporate news media is how some of us are manipulated into believing that somehow corporate taxes are too high. It’s how some of us still think that government regulates businesses too harshly. Corporate news media is how some Americans still cling to the fairy tale that what’s good for the rich will eventually trickle down and be good for everyone.

These lies are just what those in power count on us to believe. It’s what makes you and I precisely the audience Big Money wants – a divided populace who is willfully ignorant, woefully misinformed, eager to vote against their own self-interests, and who refuses to unify against them.

If and when we do, we’ll actually have a democracy. Until then, look around. This is what we have because it’s precisely what we deserve.

If you’re ready to help change things for the better, check out these organizations.

http://www.citizen.org/
http://www.citizen.org/
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
http://www.wolf-pac.com/

e5390c3c-ab96-43d5-a311-8de36507f5c4

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/
https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
At SiX, we provide trusted, expert resources to inform and enhance that work. Together, we’re building the legislative wing of the progressive movement. https://stateinnovation.org/about/
At SiX, we provide trusted, expert resources to inform and enhance that work. Together, we’re building the legislative wing of the progressive movement. https://stateinnovation.org/about/

 

 

All Cities Are Not Created Unequal

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Alan Berube examines the most recent Census data to understand where and why income inequality has become a pressing political issue in many big cities today.

Greg Russak‘s insight:

"Inequality may be the result of global economic forces, but it matters in a local sense. A city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face many difficulties. It may struggle to maintain mixed-income school environments that produce better outcomes for low-income kids. It may have too narrow a tax base from which to sustainably raise the revenues necessary for essential city services. And it may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families, so that those who move up or down the income ladder ultimately have no choice but to move out." – Alan Berube, senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program

See on www.brookings.edu

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. Rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price, Economic Policy Institute

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

Read more: http://www.epi.org/publication/unequal-states/

Greg Russak‘s insight:

Data doesn’t lie.

 

Executive summary

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

See on www.epi.org