Opinion

David Cay Johnston

The richest get richer

By David Cay Johnston
March 15, 2012

The aftermaths of the Great Recession and the Great Depression produced sharply different changes in U.S. incomes that tell us a lot about tax and economic policy.

The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.

In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground.

National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.

The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.

NEW POLICY BOOSTS THE RICH

Starting in 1933, government policy aimed to improve the lot of the vast majority through such policies as massive government-financed jobs and construction programs. But since 1980 policy has focused on helping the already rich get richer still with such policies as lower taxes and fewer audits.

The updated figures illustrating income changes, all in 2010 dollars, come from analysis of the latest IRS data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.

Saez received the 2009 John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the economist under 40 who has made the greatest contribution to that field, and a 2010 MacArthur genius grant.

Their data expands on what I reported first last fall – median pay fell in 2010 to its lowest level since 1999.

Saez and Piketty show that the vast majority’s average adjusted gross income, of which wages are just a part, was $29,840 in 2010. That was down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000.

Most shocking? The average income of the vast majority of taxpayers in 2010 was just a smidgen more than the $29,448 average way back in 1966.

At the top, the super-rich saw their 2010 average income grow by $4.2 million over 2009 to $23.8 million. Compared to 1966 their income was up on average by $18.7 million per taxpayer.

We should expect this pattern of concentrated gains weighted toward the very top to continue unless we change our policies.

Saez shows that the top one percent’s share of real income growth is increasing with each economic expansion and it matters not whether the president is a Democrat or Republican. The top one percent enjoyed 45 percent of Clinton-era income growth, 65 percent of Bush-era growth and 93 percent of Obama-era growth, though that is only through 2010.

While markets are a factor, I think the evidence makes clear that government policy is at the core of the differing fortunes of the vast majority and the super-rich.

Inaugural addresses of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama bring this into sharp focus. Both spoke of the need for restoring confidence, while denouncing greed and irresponsible conduct. Roosevelt in 1933 specified “callous and selfish wrongdoing” by bankers abusing a “sacred trust.” Obama vaguely referred to the “consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some.”

Roosevelt said that “our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” Obama, again less specific, spoke of government that “helps families find jobs at a decent wage.”

Roosevelt brought in trustbusters, reformers and even an expert at Wall Street manipulations to implement policies benefiting the vast majority.

FINANCIAL INSIDERS

By contrast, while Obama called Wall Street executives “fat cats,” he surrounded himself with financial insiders with the exception of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard bankruptcy expert now seeking election to the U.S. Senate. His administration has failed to prosecute the central figures in the frauds that created our economic distress.

Government policy can change again and for the better. We can create a growing economy with widely shared prosperity.

We need to increase spending on education and research to maximize returns from human capital. We need to create jobs rebuilding our decaying infrastructure so people and goods move efficiently. We need to honor markets, letting mismanaged banks and insurers receive their just desserts in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

We need to adjust our focus away from financial sector profits to people. We need to reform taxes to discourage capital withdrawals and offshoring and, instead, encourage reinvestment of profits at home.

If we don’t, the vast majority will see their incomes go on eroding slowly while those at the top enjoy an ever-larger share of national income and wealth. The inevitable result will be economic, political and social instability – not a pretty picture for anyone.

Comments
37 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Government leaders are the top 1%, especially in D. C. Where is the incentive for them to change anything that they stand to gain. They have theirs. Usually when one has his he is not particularly interested in knowing whether others have theirs or not unless there is a compelling reason.

Posted by alwayslearning | Report as abusive
 

I’ve gotten a 1% raise for two years in a row now after 3 years of a decrease in pay. 1% is a $500 raise for the entire year. Divide that by 52 weeks ($9.62 a week) and see how unbeliveably pitiful that is and that is before taxes. After taxes it is about $7.69 a week. I cannot possibly sustain myself in coming years at this rate. I feel like Tiny tim in A Christmas Carroll who lives with all his relatives in a small home and they all have to eat porrage to survive. Inflation eats up 7x any raise I seem to be able to get and since I had a pay cut the first three years – I can never ever catch up.

Posted by JLWR | Report as abusive
 

You need Steve Benen or Kevin Drum to create a graph for you. This graph does not do a good job oh showing what going on or you need to show a pie(apple pie ofcourse) with one person(Paris Hilton, maybe?) getting a third of a pie(or maybe showing them getting several slices), nine people sharing a sliver of a piece of the pie and then have 90 people getting a crumb each or something. You get the idea…

Posted by chrisjohnson | Report as abusive
 

“I can never ever catch up.” That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

Posted by lambertstrether | Report as abusive
 

Another informative post – thanx again, Mr. Johnston, Steve J.

Posted by piniella | Report as abusive
 

This is a very crude picture of a pathetic economic reality. The truth is that the mightiest nation on earth has lost its integrity in the hands of the mightiest crooks in the capitalistic world. They are the tiny 0.1% who have the mighty power to, directly or indirectly, control the government, let alone any other government in the world…

Posted by marusik | Report as abusive
 

I just finished the book, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President”, by Ron Suskind. Certainly an eye opener about how the financial players suckered us, including President Obama.

It doesn’t give me any confidence in the future, no matter who is in charge. The moneyed classes are able to convince the working class and small business folks that the American dream of learn, work harder than the next guy/gal, take a few risks and you, too, can achieve financial success; and they are working so hard they don’t have time or energy to learn the truth. Maybe Occupy movements will have an impact, but I doubt it.

Posted by Train_Ryder | Report as abusive
 

Supporters of Obama would do well to take the above graphs to heart. They might as well remember his economic team as well, and watch the movie Inside Job. But if Republicans think a debater, a true believer or a corporate take over artist will do better, then like the Democrats, they would be voting for hope over experience.

Look, again, at the graphs above. The two parties depend upon money, and the bankers create the stuff, and the supreme court says that the money that the banks create is speech. The last few congresses have indemnified the banks with thousand page laws. We are observing the virtuous circle of corruption.

Nero is fiddling and press says the music is grand, and the future is bright.

My hopes, as well, are unreasonable. I hope we can find a candidate that has the experience and credibility to put the military/security/ congressional/drug-war complex back in the bottle; can write the Volker rule in three pages, and get the congress and senate to pass a law stating that money is not speech, and finally can get a majority of us to write in his, or her name.

We live in such a beautiful and rich land. What a shame to see it turned to toast because we cannot share the wealth, or have the discipline to pay for our press and see that our reporters are protected.

Posted by TheOldSodbuster | Report as abusive
 

Great article. In our society the rich have the upper hand and are holding onto it with all their might. There’s very little if anything they would not stoop to in order to keep their riches. They don’t need the American public because they’ve got their emerging markets in China, India, Asia and Latin America. We are, if anything, a burden to them. Just look at Steve Jobs’ attitude towards the American worker. It speaks volumes, and the American public knows this and still runs headlong after anything Apple it can get. So we see that knowledge is a far cry from wisdom.

If I had to choose one thing that would begin to solve the problem, it would be to outlaw political campaigning on television. That would prevent the need for big money to get elected, which would be a start. Fat chance of it happening though.

We have created new kings when our nation was born in defiance of them. And the bewildering difference is that we know they are kings, that we have created them, and that we have the power to dethrone them, yet we do not. We welcome them.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive
 

An interseting article, though, sadly, I imagine it will have as little impact on the masses as did the release of Romney’s tax returns. It would seem that once people settle into an ideology, facts will do very little to shake their faith.

While I’m sure the statement “Saez shows that the top one percent’s share of real income growth is increasing with each economic expansion and it matters not whether the president is a Democrat or Republican. The top one percent enjoyed 45 percent of Clinton-era income growth, 65 percent of Bush-era growth and 93 percent of Obama-era growth, though that is only through 2010.” is true, I don’t think it presents the whole picture. I believe that one needs to at least look at both ends of the scale to develop a better understanding of the full picture.

Using data on after tax income from the OMB web site shows that after tax income for the bottom quintile actually decreased by 4.9% during Reagan’s 8 yrs in office (as measured from the year he was elected (1980) through his last year in office (1988)). The same group saw it’s after tax income increase by 12.7% during Clinton’s 8 yrs. The story is similar for the second quintile (from the bottom) who saw their after tax income decrease by 1% under Reagan and increase by 14.9% under Clinton. In fact you have to leave the realm of quintiles and get all the way to the top 5% before you find a group that fared better under Reagan than under Clinton at 52.7% to 51.8%. To see a meaningful difference you need to go to the top 1% (the highest group provided in the data set) who saw their after tax income increase by 91% under Reagan and 78% under Clinton.

And while I would say that the statement “While markets are a factor, I think the evidence makes clear that government policy is at the core of the differing fortunes of the vast majority and the super-rich.” is generally true (as I’ll try to show in a moment), I think this is less so for the current recovery. The top 0.01% make the vast majority of their money from capital gains, and, to my knowledge anyway, the tax policy regarding this income has not changed significantly in the past 3 yrs. What has changed is that the markets have seen incredible recoveries during this time, particularly given other economic indicators.

On the other hand, again using data from the OMB but on total effective federal tax rates, it is quite obvious that during the Reagan and Clinton administrations federal tax policy played a major role in the fortunes of all groups. The bottom quitile saw it’s taxes increase from 7.7% to 8.5% under Reagan (and they were higher than 8.5% every year except the first two of his administration). This accounts for most, if not all of their decrease in after tax income during that period. The same group saw their taxes decrease from 8.2% to 6.4% under Clinton and they were lower than 6.4% every year except the first two of his administration. At the other end of the spectrum the top 1% saw their taxes decrease from 34.6% to 27.8% under Reagan (they were lower than 27.8% every year except the first and next to last). This likely accounts for a not insignificant portion of their income gains during that period. The top 1% saw their taxes increase from 30.6% to 33.2% under Clinton and they were higher than 33.2% every year in between, peaking at 36.1% his third year in office, and yet they still managed to increase their income by more than any other group.

Of course to the supply sider this is all just cherry picked data (straight from the OMB web site, albeit) and the economic growth during the Clinton administraion was a one time fluke resulting from the (unfortunately government invented) internet, while the growth during Reagan’s years in office was purely due to the magical powers of supply side economics. Such is the power of ideology over reason.

Posted by jtfane | Report as abusive
 

Congress writes the laws in the United States. Congress has also chosen to privatize the IRS (check where your “e-File” goes when you submit to the IRS site). Congress has chosen, since 2000, to spend ten trillion dollars more than the U.S. got in tax revenues. The ten trillion dollars was spent on unfunded war. Certainly, Congress can’t be bought, but, for a mere ten billion dollars in annual election financing, one can rent a comfortable majority in Congress. So, who does Congress work for?

Posted by TIREDINPHILLY | Report as abusive
 

Sorry David, this just doesn’t work.

“The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.”

It’s not a shift in Federal policy. It’s a shift in hte sources of income. Go back to the Piketty and Saetz papers. Look at what they say about sources of income.

1930 etc the vast majority of income for that top percentiles was capital income. From investments in bonds and stocks. Today the vast majority of income for that group is labour income. They themselves, in one of their papers, point this out.

So, what you’re picking up here in your analysis is not a change in how labour income was distributed as the good times returned. Not at all. In the first instance you’re picking up how labout income improved while capital income did not, in the second you’re picking up the distribution of labour income.

Those just aren’t the same thing at all and really, really, should not be compared in this manner.

Posted by TimWorstall | Report as abusive
 

@ Tim Worstall, the relative components of income have indeed changed, Tim, but that doesn’t in any way challenge the column’s point that government policy plays a major role in the changes we are seeing in total income.

The increases in income to CEOs and other executives are also the product of government policy, as thoroughly documented by me and many others and as taught to me by a number of compensation consultants. And wages for the vast majority are heavily influenced by government policy from anti-union rules to moving manufacturing to China.

If you compare Tables A4 and A6 (without and with capital gains) you will see that the first is less volatile. You may also want to read my column (linked above) from last fall on wage data.

Professor Saez, BTW, sent me a note saying “a great article and two great charts. I hope it will have an impact on the public and policy makers.”

Posted by DavidCayJ | Report as abusive
 

There are several reasons for the differences between the rebound in the 1930′s and that of 2008 – 2012.

One is that, through a concentration of media in a very few hands, differing opinion simply is not heard today as it was in the 1930s. A second reason is that the American political system today is much more thoroughly gerrymandered and rigged than it was in the 1930s. Much of this comes from technological advances, mostly computing. A third reason is that Government is much more involved in determining economic winners and losers than it was in the 1930s. Our economy is less free and, like elections, more rigged.

Generally, the problem is that our system has become more centralized, more Soviet in style, and less able to tolerate competition either ideologically or economically.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive
 

Talk, talk, talk…..!!!
We have talked this to death…
Can we DO anything to change things ????

How about joining the OWS for beginners… and maybe the American freedom loving patriots at NRA could join in with some real fire power….
I know I’m dreaming, but there’s nothing else left, is there?

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

Good article.

Piketty and Saetz papers? Labor income? Give me a break. Some may say it’s labor income when a corporate president receives a $15 million annual salary, but we all know that really isn’t income to labor, but rather to capital.

What makes the lopsided problem so difficult to solve is that there are so many myriad ways that the wealthy collude, effortlessly and relentlessly, to channel income to their own class, as owners of capital.

One example is the H1B visa program, under which over 1 million foreign engineers and computer programmers have been imported into American corporate facilities. The reasoning, of course, is to reduce labor costs by importing cheap labor from poorer countries like India, China, Russia, etc. Reducing labor costs raises profits to capital.

In about 2 weeks from today, on April 1, 2012, a new alotment of 85,000 more slots for this next fiscal year is available, and already taken. That’s 85,000 more engineers, mostly from India, that will be immigrating into American corporate facilities.

It has the same motivation as offshoring or outsourcing American call center jobs to call centers in India. It isn’t that the Indian call center labor has a higher intellect or training than Americans, but rather that the Indians are much cheaper. India has a population of 1.17 BILLION people, almost three times larger than the American population.

For American engineers, it’s a simple case of supply and demand. The huge influx of the million H1B visa immigrant engineers has caused American engineering wage rates to plummet.

American high school and college students, the segment that is always naturally interested in science and engineering, see the writing on the wall. The see the dropping wage rates, and are deciding in droves not to get engineering degrees. Why go throught the trouble, when they can work in a fast-food restaurant and make almost as much?

In other words, the wealthy lobbied politically and got the H1B visa program because they wanted to reduce their largest cost — labor.

And the wealthy continues, from many pulpits and rostrums, to lobby politically to bring in more and more engineers from India, while doing great harm to middle America.

It is just one of the myriad ways income gets diverted from the American middle class to the American upper class.

The H1B program is a travesty to America as a nation.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

{The aftermaths of the Great Recession and the Great Depression produced sharply different changes in U.S. incomes that tell us a lot about tax and economic policy.}

Earlier Pickety/Saez analyses indicate that Income Disparity goes back, at the very least, to the early 1910s when America first instituted the Income Tax – and thus the data was available to measure Earnings. My sense is that that data point was just the first in a long series that can be extrapolated back to the origins of the nation.

And the arrival of the Industrial Age in the latter half of the 19th century simply exacerbated the massive shift upwards of wealth in America – to the Robber Barons.

But the real sprint to Income Disparity can be seen at the advent of Reckless Reagan who brought marginal incomes taxes down from above 70% to the piddling 22/25% (after deductions) where they are today. He brought capital gains taxes down considerably less, but taxation of capital has always been much lower than income taxes in the US.

For an history of income taxation in America, see this info-graphic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taxes_ debt.png – where one sees the relationship between total taxation and National Debt. Look at the inflexion upwards of the National Debt in the early 1980s.

Who was elected PotUS in 1980? Right, Reckless Ronnie.

It is sad commentary to note that – after 30 years of the Trickle-up Wealth Pump (that is low marginal and capital gains taxation) – the Rabid Right would not want to change one iota of the Tax Code. After all, it serves them marvelously well to create the Plutocrat Class with its unimaginable riches.

We, as a nation, have come full circle historically. We fought a revolution to free ourselves from an aristocratic Monarchy only to find ourselves with a Financial Aristocracy (or Plutocracy) in its place 235 years later.

Is this what our forefathers fought and died for – the Koch Brothers?

Heaven help us – we’ve become just another Banana Republic.

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive
 

{Adam Smith: Some may say it’s labor income when a corporate president receives a $15 million annual salary, but we all know that really isn’t income to labor, but rather to capital.}

It’s Income, AS, not Capital – and it is taxed at a ridiculous rate of somewhere between 22 and 25% after deductions. Capital Gains taxes are those on … uh, Capital Gains (like stocks, bonds, money-market, venture capital, etc.) And they are taxed even lower.

The issue in America, un-debated, is when in Total Income enough? For the moment, the sky’s the limit. Which is why our Golden Boy Banksters on Wall Street willingly take short-cuts that engender the SubPrime Mess. Which started the Great Recession, from which we are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And they come hat in hand to the Treasury because they are TBTF? Stop the world, I wanna get off …

As a nation, it is high-time we discussed a cap to all income. In that manner, the BoD would not finagle Net Income to assure that a huge chunk goes to its patrician TopManagement. Ditto all other unearned income, from both Capital Gains and Inheritance.

Of course, some will say that high-taxes in America is unreal. So, I would like them to explain how confiscatory-taxation will destroy “entrepreneurship” if the bar is placed high-enough, say ten/twenty megabucks of annual earned and unearned income.

Hallucinatory income levels do the country no good whatsoever. Even the argument for Venture Capital does not hold water. Beyond a certain point of capitalization, it is a successful market strategy that finances the corporation. IPOs are just a short-cut to multi-billion dollar enrichment in one fell swoop.

Can America survive without mega-billionaires? Of course it can – and thrive as well with tax revenues redistributed to both (1) reduce the National Debt and to (2) attack Social Injustice.

Why in heaven’s name should we be gifting our children with repayment of America’s burgeoning National Debt whilst our economy creates billionaires who park their Wealth in low-taxed Asset Management accounts enriching them even further.

That duality is insane.

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive
 

No argument, Mr. Johnson and your prescriptions are what will be needed. However comma if you think that they will happen as long as our only choices for political leadership are a pair of 1% approved stooges, you’re mistaken. As you said (without putting it this way), the O-bamination ain’t it and we certainly are only going to have a choice between two 1% approved stooges this coming November…..

Posted by majkmushrm | Report as abusive
 

When I was a kid, some 65 years ago, a doctor, who was a neighbor, had a favorite saying – “the rich get richer and the poor just have more children.” Not much has changed.

Posted by Glider2001 | Report as abusive
 

It’s funny to read people complaining about the capital gains being taxed at rates (usually) lower than ordinary income.  People who don’t agree with the lower capital gains tax treatment usually have a sudden change of heart when they sell the house they bought 10 years ago at a $100,000 profit.

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive
 

It’s funny to read people complaining about the capital gains being taxed at rates (usually) lower than ordinary income.  People who don’t agree with the lower capital gains tax treatment usually have a sudden change of heart when they sell the house they bought 10 years ago at a $100,000 profit.

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive
 

It’s funny to read people complaining about the capital gains being taxed at rates (usually) lower than ordinary income.  People who don’t agree with the lower capital gains tax treatment usually have a sudden change of heart when they sell the house they bought 10 years ago at a $100,000 profit.

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive
 

jambrylay…have you been on a long vacation on some other planet? I live in Arizona. My house has lost almost 2/3rds of it’s value. No one in the lower 80% of income has made anything on a house purchased in 2002 that would come anywhere near a $100,000 profit. Their house is probably worth less than they paid for it. Try not to be obtuse.

Posted by xyz2055 | Report as abusive
 

The whole point of a “progressive” tax system is to tax those with the most more than those with the least. Now “more” does not mean more dollars, but a larger percentage.

Perhaps, with our never ending wars, our ever decreasing standard of living, our tweedle-dee versus treedle-dum political system, the Communists had it more right than we thought. The rich simply are bad neighbors and bad human beings who must be crushed by force or the rest of us will be turned into slaves. Class warfare, in its most brutal form, may be the only solution. It is difficult to see an alternative.

To an impoverished slave, what difference does the label hung on the house of your Master have? It does not matter.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive
 

“If you compare Tables A4 and A6 (without and with capital gains) you will see that the first is less volatile. ”

That’s not the point that Satez was making. Rather, that the incomes of the top percentiles back then were incomes from capital, not necessarily capital gains. Dividends and interest and the like.

This is not the case now: quite apart from anything else US companies seem to have got out of the habit of paying dividends.

And I really can’t bring myself to thinking that what you’re measuring is a change in government policy. Given that corporate profits and thus dividends vary more over the economic cycle than do labour wages that is.

In the aftermath of a depression, where the rich are largely gaining their incomes from corporate profits and dividends, then of course we’re likely to see a different growth in income to said rich if it’s after a recession and the rich are largely gaining their incomes from labour income.

I don’t doubt that there have been policy changes, nor that things aren’t entirely tiketty boo in either the income distribution or the taxation of incomes.

I’m purely and only pointing out that the diferences in sources of incomes mean that the comparison you’re making here don’t quite stack up.

Posted by TimWorstall | Report as abusive
 

@ Tim, yes, again, income components have shifted. As you note, the top 0.01 percent now rely more on compensation than in 19034, when dividends, capital gains and interest were more important. Wages in 2010 were more than double the share of top incomes in 1934.

Your post seems to assume that wages paid at the top result from market forces, not rent-seeking that is enabled, indeed encouraged, by changes in government rules.

How is government policy involved? I have written extensively on this for two decades, including other columns and book chapters, but in short form for 2010:

…blue-collar jobs were moved to China and private sector unions were nearly decimated over the last three decades, which pushed down wages for the vast majority, including those not in unions but whose pay was set by union scales. So nonunion workers also lost ground. In addition our sick-care non-system diverted huge sums from wages to fringe benefits not captured in income tax data.

….at the other end, executive pay skyrocketed, risky debt-financed speculation exploded while tax rates and white-collar law enforcement of all kinds was handcuffed through policy and reduced through budgeting.

Contrast this with 1934 where the top depended much more on market returns on their own capital, as you note.

Government, through economic rules, taxes and law enforcement plays a major role, and in some areas the dominant role, in determining who gains and who loses as well as how burdens and benefits are distributed. My next book, THE FINE PRINT, will explain much more about this with an examination of rules and policies that tilt the playing field, but have gotten little (and in many cases zero) coverage, even in trade publications.

Posted by DavidCayJ | Report as abusive
 

We should all vote for romney. He is one of us and will turn this around for the 90% by giving tax breaks to the top 10% and reducing their IRS audits.

Oh….wait…that is what got us in this mess in the first place.

Posted by johncoby | Report as abusive
 

It is not how much money the rich have.
It is about how much money I do not have.

Posted by whyknot | Report as abusive
 

An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspac e.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
~ Albert Einstein

Posted by John_Steinsvold | Report as abusive
 

Another great article, I just wish it would lead to some positive change. One point that I would like to better understand is why so many people vote against reforms that would help them personally? For example, why would a blue collar worker struggling to support a family vote against tax reform, or an increase in capital gains tax, or health care…. I just can’t understand it?

Posted by ProfMagyar | Report as abusive
 

Seems like the conclusion of the article is that we need major reform. I definitely agree with that. But who do I vote for? Romney is only going to help out himself and Obama has been all talk the past four years.. what should I do? haha

Posted by yourPFpro | Report as abusive
 

This disastrous piling on of the richest 1% is the saddet part of all. While Obama tries to fix this horrendous swing of income, the right declares that it is class warfare and insists on continuing in the same direction, even though it will eventually lead to mass insurrection and real warfare. This is true greed. Even in the face of potential loss to all the right will take that chance and continue on for total world domination. I feel the rewards reaped will be a booby prize.

Posted by RangerDan | Report as abusive
 

txgadfly is absolutely correct. Never in human history have the wealthy ever shared their wealth willingly. The people in power, be they a Duke or a CEO, will only worry about the poor when they are forced to. All the talk in the world nor all the suffering in the world has ever convince people in power to willingly give up their money/ power. Do you seriously think the Cheneys of the United States give a damn about the middle class, really?
The rich are sorry, heartless bastards who own this country and the only way the average John Doe will have a say in what really goes on is through a revolution.

Posted by Sysyphus48 | Report as abusive
 

Obama gives handouts to his 1% friends while talking out of the side of his mouth placating the poor. I think you’ll all agree that government officials can be bought and sold like furniture nowadays– so why give government power over anything more than basic defense and protection of rights? Anyone who argues for more power for the government is either obtuse or stands something to gain from corruption.

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

@Sysyphus48 Sadly, I agree. It hurts me spiritually, but I agree.

Posted by krimsonpage | Report as abusive
 

I find interesting that you have often in books and just recently on Alternet spoke of the states that allow the big corporations to keep the state taxes collected but I have not been able to find a listing of those states. It would be interesting as if mine (New York) is included then some form of activism is in order.

Posted by Andy49 | Report as abusive
 

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