Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's Just As Bad As You Thought

Persistent Aggravating Barking

Yet again, that terrible Dog gets on his little Soap Box and barks and barks and barks.

Josh Hoxie, director of the Project on Opportunity and Tax at the Institute for Policy Studies, recently published a study with a colleague, Chuck Collins, entitled "Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us".  Hoxie also contributed a piece to Reuters, providing an extremely high-level summary of the issues and alternatives. An even shorter form version: It's every bit as bad as you may have thought.

Or, maybe not -- it's possible people out there simply don't give a damn any longer. Or, they believe that Trumpolina will lead us "back to greatness", that Greg Stillson Ted Cruz will lead us all to Big Jesus. Once again, America -- holding a tear-stained image of Saint Ronald The Dim -- will sit tall in the saddle at the top of the Darwinian heap.

It's just possible that a large number of people are so willfully ignorant that they don't understand: If the current situation continues, their children and grandchildren will live at an enforced lower standard of living. All to benefit a tiny number of 'Owners.'  
...the richest 400 people in the United States together possess more wealth than over 60 percent of the country, a striking 194 million people and more than the populations of Mexico and Canada combined...

The Forbes 400 members have a combined fortune of $2.3 trillion. This is more than the gross domestic product of India, a country with more than a billion people. By comparison, the typical American family has about $81,000 in wealth — their total combined assets minus their debt. [It would take the combined wealth of] 36 million such typical families [to equal] the wealth of the Forbes 400.

The wealth gap in America is especially startling for people of color. Median household wealth for African-Americans is just $11,000 and for Latinos is $13,700...
Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Ogg Ogg
This rising inequality, which has accelerated in the last decade, has devastating implications. Extreme inequality has been linked to negative health effects... for everyone in these unequal societies, not just those at the bottom. In fact, according to British public health researcher Richard Wilkinson, we are better off living in a community with a lower standard of living but greater equality than living in a community with a higher income, but more extreme inequality...  [because] greater inequality tears the social fabric of society — we care less for each other and collectively suffer as a result.

High levels of inequality also erode social mobility — the ability of those born into poverty to climb the economic ladder into the ranks of the middle class. This is the result of a now-broken ladder of opportunity — the public investments in things like housing, education, and healthcare for those at the bottom and middle required to help people build wealth. Today, the United States is among the least socially mobile... countries in terms of earnings: children are less likely to earn more in real terms than their parents did...

Instituting a wealth tax or any other policy that strikes at the growing wealth divide is unthinkable in our current Congress, which has shown little interest in serious discussion about tax reform, especially before the presidential election. But a generation ago, the thought that Americans would be experiencing such massive inequality seemed similarly unlikely. If we fail to take bold action, wealth will continue to concentrate into fewer and fewer hands.
In the early Go-Go, "Lil' Boots" Bush years, the Department of Labor's bureau of statistics simply stopped reporting the number of layoffs announced in the U.S., and the amount of U.S. currency in circulation (a reference point known as M2).  Just -- stopped.  The CBO was also told to stop publishing a report which detailed how much the top layer of Our Wealthy paid in taxes, as compared with "ordinary" Americans.

When studies like Hoxie and Collins' are no longer news items; when reports that document how much of a Gilded Age is being created, at the expense of most of us, are no longer published or funded -- then you'll know things will have changed sufficiently that polite conversation, or impassioned civil discourse, won't be enough to bring about any kind of relief.

Past a certain point, the old claim that simply to be here in America -- to "live in the greatest country on earth" won't mean as much. And that thought should concern those 400 people in Forbes' little list. It ought to concern them deeply.  But I doubt it.

MEHR, UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Not like things have changed in half a decade.

And it's not like I haven't barked about all this over and over, and again and again, as if repeating the same facts ten different ways might help bring about that change we all talk about but never see.  Talk about ego.

And, I don't have a good feeling about this mission. You shouldn't, either.

 Additional Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo At Close Of Blog Thing

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