Inequality Marches On — The Death March of American Inequality

I know some of our readers believe that no matter how unfair and extreme income inequality becomes, there is nothing the government can do — we must let the free markets set the course. But what if those free markets are setting us on a course for destruction?  Do we accept our ultimate demise as a necessary consequence of maintaining our free market belief system?  From Steve Rattner:   The Rich Get Even Richer – NYTimes.com.

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18 responses

  1. Donald Wolberg | Reply

    The response to “income inequality” is a simple one: make money. The fact of course is that as I recall is that the top 5% (or is it 8%) of income earning Americans, pay about 48% of all the taxes. Some 45% of Americans pay no income tax. America is unique in that anyone can do anything they wish with intelligence, energy and a will to accomplish. If government took every dollar (100%) earned by the 10% highest income earners, the amount taken would fund government for perhaps 1.3 days at current expenditures. The issue is not income disparity, it is over-regulation and over-spending by government, and the damper put on expanding the economy by borrowing 44 cents of every dollar government spends. Currently with the highest corporate taxes in the world, there is little incentive to expand and create new jobs.

    1. Donald, why is easy money healthy and motivating for the upper class and corrupting for the lower class? I think you are assuming a much more fair and rational world than the one we live in. I’m atheist on alternate Fridays and agnostic most of the rest of the time, so Invisible Hands don’t impress me.

      1. Unless they are giving me a back rub, I really killed it lugging that water heater up the cellar stairs.

  2. Nancy-so you go out and support Chafee who seems to think the rich serving us “groundlings”out of some perverted idea of noblesse oblige shouldn’t pay taxes if they can connive a way out of it.And you sit nice and quiet and wait to throw stones at CERTAIN rich people.
    Do you like payng ever higher taxes as a middle class person?I am okay with fair taxes,but they can’t keep going to the same well forever.
    Barry said something about people not wanting to pay any taxes and expect government benefits.Well,I pay enough taxes and I get my pension,Social Security(reduced by 66%),and VA benefits from the government-I did something to earn all of them and I understand that my taxes help the country function.That’s not what I complain about-it’s the misuse of taxpayer money to hire political hacks and duplicate governmental functions,as well as pay for fraud that irks me to no end.
    Using wasted money for rel needs can go a long way.

    1. I totally agree with everyone who says waste and fraud are bad things. I even have hopes of having a chance to do something about waste and fraud, in a very modest way.
      Right now, it’s clear to me that the woman who patiently and responsibly cares for one of our elders is also making a contribution to society. The military is not unique for patriotism and sacrifice. That woman should be able to have a living wage and health insurance.
      I actually have friends who are rich, I’m not prejudiced against all of them, I’m liberal that way.
      Chafee is right that we can manage to pay an extra few cents at the restaurant instead of cutting vital services for people who can’t afford to go to restaurants. My friends who own a restaurant are worried about this, but I’ll still be their customer.

  3. Yes-people who take care of others,often in circumstances that most of us would prefer to avoid(and they are not all women,Nancy)deserve a living wage.
    But here you go,admiring Chafee,who,with a net worth of $47 million,still managed to slink around the tax laws.I never tried that-did you?Probably not.You have a blind spot for “progressive”politicians and refuse to recognize some of them are real scumbags.
    I wasn’t thinking of the restaurant tax,but more like the car tax and the additional “fees”everywhere you look.
    First it was recycling bins-okay-I used them before it was mandatory-now they’re talking about a fee per bag of garbage.Why am I paying property tax?
    Wouldn’t you like to register your car in Exeter?I won’t let go of this because Chafee rubbed his butt in our collective face and shrugged it off.

  4. A psychologist friend of mine says there is no use arguing with those that defend the rich even as they off-shore our jobs, disinvest in education, environment, social services and the like. Identifying with the rich makes many people feel richer and like winners, even if it has the opposite effect. Identifying with the poor or needy is identifying with losers.

    Strange that right-wing thought has targeted Chafee who epitomizes thge old Republican establishment of meritocracy, civil discourse, constitutional respect and a balanced approach to economics. Chafee is to be admired for being willing to take the heat for pursuing pension reform and the need for more revenue, both of which I think badly need to be done, as well as in defending the constitution (holiday tree and alol) reproductive freedom and marriage equality which anger many.

    1. gee-maybe because he is the epitome of “do as I say and not as I do”?
      If you think the holiday tree was defending the Constitution,you haven’t really understood the 1st Amendment.
      You needn’t be right wing to dislike Chafee.Of course what you consider “right wing”is pretty much anyone who doesn’t follow the “progressive”party line.

  5. Great comment, Barry. I think you are right, and we all have important work to do — today I am searching for an American history book for a 6 year old boy I know who is shedding a very traumatic early life and has taken an interest in history. Must find resources for our young explorers! More important than arguing any day.

  6. Can a single one of you here explain why Chafee is right in opposing e-Verify?
    I’d love to see you try.

    1. It may be better to have a country full of undocumented people working than committing criminal acts and exhausting our tax dollars through bringing them to justice???

      1. Or not having them here at all.Is your answer to open the borders and close your eyes?
        Fact is most illegal aliens aren’t here to commit crimes aside from any crime they may have committed entering the country.They are looking for jobs.Deny the jobs and they’ll leave-and REALLY lay into the employers with fines and prison time.
        the aliens here committing other crimes can then be concentrated upon and deported and/or imprisoned.
        I did this stuff for 21 years,so maybe I know something about it.

  7. Kiersten-why not just buy him the Howard Zinn version of American history?It seems to be right up your alley.
    Barry-you really think people like me are thrilled by other people being rich?get a life.I could sh*t care less about people who drive a car that costs more than my house.It won’t get them there faster.We all die-and then we’re all the same ash or whatever and the money doesn’t mean anything.
    On the subject of what happens after-????

  8. Some of us are missing the point about money.

    If it were only money, it would be one thing. But, in all of history, there has been a very simple equation:

    Money = Power

    So, when the income distribution becomes as highly skewed as it is, the center of power has shifted tremendously towards the very few who are very wealthy. They can buy politicians (and they do) so that the laws of this fair land protect their interests and not those of the vast (99%) majority of the populace.

    Are people OK with this?

    As for the simplistic “make more money,” that’s exactly the problem. We have become a lottery country: a few, a very few, get very, very wealthy, and the rest of us sink. America has become a class-stratified nation. The major determining factor for where a kid ends up on the income scale is where s/he started, based on his/her parents’ income.

    That is not exactly the recipe for a ‘land of opportunity.’

    Sure, it happens. But very infrequently. Bill Gates’ father was a corporate lawyer. IOW, he didn’t need to worry about making money for a while, a long while, b/c dad could support him. He’s the classic example–like GW Bush–of a guy born on third base who thinks he hit a triple.

    A few people will become CEOs, but most of us will work for these people, with precious little chance of joining them.

    Sure, it could happen. But lightening could strike, too, and the odds are about the same.

    So, income inequality matters. Unless you look forward to living in a banana republic.

    You earned your gov’t benefits? But only so long as the Kochs or Adelson or any of the other RW moneybags can’t buy a big enough share of congress to take your benefits away from you.

    And don’t think it couldn’t happen. All it takes is the right number of reps and senators and a willing president, and your benefits become some rich guy’s tax cut.

    That is exactly what has been happening over the past 30 years.

    So I repeat:

    Money = Power

  9. klaus-I am not going to argue money isn’t power.
    I just don’t see it as bleakly as you do.Politicians have been bought as long as cloth and fruit.It’s nothing new.
    In the USSR money didn’t equal power-same in the PRC-in those systems the control of the army and police and a disarmed populace determined power.
    Would you like to live under such a system?I highly doubt it.
    There’s lots of money on the left-Durer did a print once called “The Battle of the Moneybags’-satirical,but very true.
    I grew up in a blue collar yet plenty of my friends did well by going into professions as a result of hard work and good schools.
    A strong education system evens things out a little.
    I am afraid we have become a little too pyramidal in the last 3 or 4 decades.
    The reasons are complex,but the flushing away of jobs offshore and erosion of nuclear families have played a role.
    These last 10 years of war is the first time war hasn’t gone hand in hand with fuller employment (not that it’s a good way to increase employment in any event)and the “industry”of Wall Street financial chicanery like “derivatives”hasn’t helped.
    Please don’t allege that only right wingers got wealthy on Wall Street.
    Our own Jack reed was apparently bought by the bankers..

  10. Both Barack Obama and Paul Ryan have eyed veterans’ health benefits as an area to cut-Obama pulled back fast after the vets groups walked out on him-Ryan better buy some flame retardant underwear if he continues with that.
    I actually think Bill Clinton was the best President for veterans in my lifetime.
    But he also oversaw the dismantling of Glass-Steagall and the love affair with the WTO.
    I actually never heard of the Koch brothers until you mentioned them here awhile back..Adelson I only heard of when he bankrolled Gingrich.
    BTW the systems between the USSR/PRC and the USA,namely Europe aren’t doing too well.
    Even I don’t believe the whole Congress is for sale-the people DO still vote.Not enough of them I would say.

  11. Many strands to this thread.
    As for e-verify, I tend to agree with Joe (though maye for a different reason) and not Governor Chafee, it is entirely appropriate to ensure that those working here are here legally. Indeed one reason that income inequality has grown so much is mass immigration, legal and illegal, that serves to drive down wages and make union organizing much more difficult. Though there are other factors, Its no coincdence that income inequality growth and union decline set in with the opening up of immigration in the 1960s. My only reservation about e-verify is the accuracy of the data-base, advocates say it is highly accurate, opponents like the ACLU say it is riddled with errors. If I were a legislator I would want an independent assessment by professioal statisticians.

    Joe makes a good point that its worse when power can come from a police state rather than money which in the real world happens. And also that support for financial industry abuses also comes form Democrats, especially in the northeast (Dodd, Schumer, and even Reed come to mind) and this too has made income inequality worse, a point made by Occupy protestors. However, I do think the Republicans are clearly worse.

    Finally, I was reporting my psychologist friend who explained how some to support the rich even against their own economic interests in order to identify with winners. Of course people are highly variable, and not knowing Joe I have no idea if this applies to him, I didn’t mean to claim it did

  12. Yeah-I like the Patriots,but that’s about the extent of identifying with winners to feel better.I don’t idolize people I don’t know.I admire certain people,but never for the simple reason that they amassed wealth.
    The data base for e-Verify is the Social Security data base.The ACLU raises a red herring because they have no other good argument.No data base is perfect,but the Social security one seems to work prety well.
    Naturalized citizens,resident aliens,and other aliens authorized to work here can refer to their CIS alien registration number.CIS maintains a very accurate data base with regard to number entiries.So-the “immigrant community”has a quicker backup check available than,say,a US citizen woman who forgot to change her surname.
    Remember-eVerify is applied to everyone-no exceptions,hence no chance for “racism”.

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