Income inequality in this nation is a serious issue. We live in a country where CEO pay can go up 60% while worker pay stays exactly the same, without even adjustment for inflation, where workers are forced to take pay cuts while executives buy new yachts and summer homes. There is really no incentive to care about your workers in a society motivated by the highest possible profit, and it’s a disturbingly frequent appearance that workers are paid as little as possible so that all of the profit from THEIR hard work can go not to them, not to their benefits, not to the company, but solely to the fatcats that sit on the top of the pyramid. We the people urge the President and Congress to establish some form of maximum wage, in order to curb income inequality and promote workplace fairness.
where to be in town this afternoon
|—||James Madison (via onthought)|
Income inequality is more severe in the U.S. than it is in nearly all of West Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. We’re on par with some of the world’s most troubled countries, and not far from the perpetual conflict zones of Latin American and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our income gap is also getting worse, having widened both in absolute and relative terms since the 1980s.
“The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.” - Lawrence Mishel
In 1947, the income of one wealthy person at the 95th percentile was enough to purchase the annual labor of just over five people living at the 20th percentile. For the next 34 years, that relationship stayed almost the same. However, in the 25 years that followed the relationship altered much more radically. Now the income of one person at the 95th percentile is enough to buy the work of more than seven people at the 20th percentile. Relative to the poor, the wealthy are far more wealthy. And relative to those at the top, both the poor and the middle class are far worse off than they were 25 years ago.
For the wealthy, when taxes were relatively high they could see that their interests were best served by making more investments in their business and providing the kind of benefits and training that gave them a long term edge. The only way to do well was by participating successfully in the market, and often doing well also required doing good. There’s no doubt about it, capitalism is driven by enlightened self interest, but the form of enlightenment varies wildly with the limits that society imposes. In a well governed economy, regulations and taxes exist that place responsibilities to community, employees, and the environment on par with those of shareholders and executives. In this kind of system, corporate officers and owners will see that they can build more value for themselves by building for the long term, by placing value in their employees, by sharing benefits and knowledge. An educated, competent workforce is the only way to create the broadly based, durable company needed for those at the top to enjoy the benefits.
However, enlightened self interest can also come in the form of realizing that no one is minding the shop. In such circumstances, it pays to ignore the community, ignore the workers, ignore the rules. When short term gain offers a better return than virtuous participation in the marketplace, enlightenment says “screw it, I’ll take mine now, thank you.” That’s what happened when deregulation of the savings and loans generated a crisis in the 1980s. It’s what built the unsustainable bubble that popped in 2008. And it’s what we’ve been doing to the broader economy since 1982. We’ve deregulated wealth; removed the incentives that made it reasonable for those who had much to invest in those who had little. We screwed up. When taxes drop so far that they cease to be a consideration, the best move is to simply grab all the money while it’s available. Why tempt fate in the marketplace, why risk unforeseen circumstances, why do all that boring old work if you can simply pocket the profits and run?
The current system provides no incentive to build companies and systems that can stand the test of time, companies built around valuable and educated workers who have a stake in the success of the company, community, and society. We’ve built a system that’s tottering on the edge of terminal instability, and those calling for still lower taxes are likely to knock out the last supports holding up the floor.
As it turns out, Ronald Reagan really did stage a second American revolution; a revolution that reversed the original. Because removing any pressure on income at the very top removed the only obstacle to what we have today—a system that inches ever closer to feudalism.
Contrary to Republican dogma, polls show that the American people strongly support higher taxes to reduce the deficit and improve income inequality. Following are 19 different polls since the first of the year that say so.
A June 9 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 61 percent of people believe higher taxes will be necessary to reduce the deficit. A June 7 Pew poll found strong support for tax increases to reduce the deficit; 67 percent of people favor raising the wage cap for Social Security taxes, 66 percent raising income tax rates on those making more than $250,000, and 62 percent favor limiting tax deductions for large corporations. A plurality of people would also limit the mortgage interest deduction. A May 26 Lake Research poll of Colorado voters found that they support higher taxes on the rich to shore-up Social Security’s finances by a 44 percent to 25 percent margin.A May 13 Bloomberg poll found that only one third of people believe it is possible to substantially reduce the budget deficit without higher taxes; two thirds do not. […]
The overwhelming majority of the US population is unaware of the vast wealth at hand. An entire generation of unprecedented wealth creation has been concealed from 99 percent of the population for over 35 years. Having never personally experienced this wealth, the average American cannot comprehend what is possible if even a fraction of the money was used for the betterment of society.
Given modern technology and wealth, American citizens should not be living in poverty. The statistics demonstrate that we now live in a neo-feudal society. In comparison to the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the population, who are sitting on top of tens of trillions of dollars in wealth, we are essentially propagandized peasants.
|—||Americans Don’t Realize Just How Badly We’re Getting Screwed by the Top 0.1 Percent Hoarding the Country’s Wealth | Economy | AlterNet (via zeitgeistmovement)|
Entitlements - for all? Yup!
Sam Harris: How many Republicans who have vowed not to raise taxes on billionaires would want to live in a country with a trillionaire and 30 percent unemployment? If the answer is “none”—and it really must be—then everyone is in favor of “wealth redistribution.” They just haven’t been forced to admit it.