In July 9 IssueBy John Thompson, Columnist
Every week I think I no longer want to talk about the economy, and every week new news comes out that emphasizes the disparity in wealth in our country. Certainly not in the so called "mainstream media," but in those pinko commie articles I like to read that espouse crazy notions that those who actually create wealth should get a little bigger slice of the pie.
The way it is now, we'll all owe pie to the wealthiest among us for generations to come. I hope they choke on it.
There was a story on Alternet.org, a left leaning news website that is continuously growing in popularity, which discussed what we could do if just the top 25 hedge fund managers paid taxes like everyone else. Those 25 people collectively "made" $22 billion just last year, to add to whatever they were already worth.
If they were taxed at an income rate, instead of a capital gains rate, which is currently 15% and is how hedge fund managers pay their tax, it's estimated that $44 billion could be applied to the nation's deficit over the next decade.
A drop in the bucket? Sure it is…. It's also 25 people.
Instead of doing away with such taxing loopholes, the GOP finds that it would be much better make cuts in food subsidies for our people, to cut Medicaid subsidies, which a recent bipartisan report amazingly concludes makes poor people healthier, more productive and happier with much less depression… one third… 33% happier and less depressed. That's not insignificant.
At least that's what the report, which also had a Bush economic advisor, concluded. That report sure does clash with the Wall Street Journal article from March which screamed "Medicaid Is Worse Than No Coverage At All." Kind of makes me wonder who the Wall Street Journal is looking out for.
Of course I'm kidding. Already an "elitist" right wing corporatist newspaper, it would only become more so once Rupert Murdoch took over.
Rupert Murdoch. Ever wonder why George Soros is singled out as the devil pulling all the world's strings, yet if there were ever a multi-billionaire who controls the message, it's Rupert Murdoch?
So while the GOP is so reluctant to tax billionaires like everyone else, they sure do like the idea of cutting spending everywhere they can… if it comes to the average American.
What would that $4.4 billion a year in extra taxes from those 25 individuals mean to the nation? Well the GOP voted to cut the National Oceanographic and Aeronautical Administration (NOAA - those people who help tell us about hurricanes and such) by $336 million. That's one-third of one of those billion in the $4.4 billion.
They want to cut $74 million from the FBI, $256 million from State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance, and $600 from the COPS program. I'm not saying I'm against those cuts, considering I just read another article that the militarization of the nation's police force continues unhindered. Yep, now they're getting tanks.
Time was that local law enforcement's role was to maintain the peace and safety of the community while upholding citizen's civil liberties. But increasingly in cities they are becoming paramilitary units, trained in combat style aggression; the result of which is over 40,000 military style raids in this country last year.
Hey, I'm not anti-law enforcement. I'm anti-combat zone, police state, controlling type "law enforcement". Funny how this is never big on the right's agenda. Seems to me sometimes the right wing would be happy for tanks and 50 caliber machine gun outfitted humvees rolling through the streets, as long as it kept gay people from getting married and ruining our country's wonderful record of marital sanctity.
So what else is on the chopping block while record profits are being earned by the world's biggest corporations? More cuts to food safety and inspection services. You know, those "nanny state" services which insure we're not eating spinach laced with ebola and salmonella.
Everything I've mentioned plus a few other vital services could be funded every year with just the removal of that one particular tax loophole… on 25 people. Amazing. Astounding. And yet many of you out there would still argue that it's their money. It's their money because we collectively listened to them say we don't need no stinking nanny state.
And we're so happy with our being lambs lead to economic slaughter over the past three decades, now we want to share the wealth (or lack thereof) with public service workers also. Why should they have things like pensions and good healthcare and such when we've already gladly given up ours, through our votes and demands for corporate freedom over human freedom.
And remember, this is while the world's corporations make record profits… record productivity…. Record pay for CEO's and executives…. Record bonuses.
Will we ever learn? Not as long as Fox News (and CNN and the rest of the corporate owned media who is interested in their owners interests) and all the right wing hold the pliable little minds of multi-millions of American citizens.
No, we won't learn until we realize that technological displacement of labor does not mean there is less for everyone to share, but that what there is, is being gobbled up by fewer and fewer of our citizens.
Ok, so what is another mantra, another meme of the right, another conventional wisdom implanted in their heads that they will repeat ad nauseum if you say the rich need to be taxed more?
Oh, that taxing the super rich is a "job killer" and that you're just punishing the "wealth creators" simply because they were successful and we're jealous. That this has been proven wrong on so many levels seems to make no difference. I mean if cutting the taxes on the rich was so great, why is it we're in this position after the massive tax cuts of Bush?
And did we not learn how money managers on Wall Street work by watching the 1980's movie "Wall Street" with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen? More often than not, all that "profit" that was made was by the destruction of companies, the dissolving of jobs and the piecemeal selling off of smaller companies assets. I believe it was called "creative destruction."
And that was before President Clinton allowed for banking to re-merge with investing. Now you have the very odd situation where "investors" can bet against something succeeding, hedging their bets.
Here I've only discussed 25 people…… 25 people and the amazing difference a little "redistribution of wealth" could do; but the issue is broad and applies all up and down the economy. Certainly the fact that our country's main product now is banking itself, "economic securities", fees, interest, investing… all these things that have nothing to do with actual, real wealth creation by adding value to raw materials, well the fact that that is our main product does not bode well for us.
But it applies elsewhere; and as a favor to the right wingers out there I'll throw in an example of movie stars, since of course Hollywood is so liberal (actually I think Hollywood is socially liberal (and also socially and morally bankrupt)).
From the summer of 2007 to the summer of 2008 the top 10 movie stars in Hollywood made almost $500 million dollars. Again, we want to continue to believe that "a person is worth whatever someone is willing to pay them," but if we do not eventually figure out that 10 people "earning" half a billion dollars means that the tens of thousands of others who also made the film or venture possible must remain indebted in our economic system, then there's no hope for us.
And that's where we are, and where we've been heading and what we are heading for more of; and unfortunately it's being demanded by millions: stop nannying us by trying to implement some measures of economic equality; we would prefer to remain indentured servants, thank you very much.
Oh that doesn't apply to you, you say. Yet here in our community we heave a big sigh as we fork over our 1% in payroll tax, and say nothing as the handful of millionaires tell us it's unfair for them to have to do the same.