October 31st, 2018
Chuck Collins of the Guardian had an article today ( https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/31/us-wealthiest-families-dynasties-governed-by-rich ) that should surprise few and alarm many. Titled “The wealth of America’s three richest families grew by 6,000% since 1982,” the subhead is “Three US families have a combined wealth of $348.7bn.” If you’re curious, the three families are the Waltons of Walmart, the Mars candy family, and the Kochs.
Granted, they satisfied three great American lusts: cheap(ish) Chinese clothing, mediocre American candy, and fossil fuels. They spotted a need, and filled it. The American capitalist dream, writ large.
The like to say they are makers and not takers, the Ayn Rand litany used to justify unbridled greed. Most of them inherited their wealth, and have an army of managers, accountants and lawyers to support their ultra-privileged positions in society, and a similar army of propagandists and lobbyists to legally barricade their positions, a governmental and media fortress devoted to persuading the public that because they are fantastically rich, they are superior and thus deserve to be fantastically rich.
Government and the law are twisted to support them, protecting them from civil and criminal retribution for their increasingly rapacious actions.
“Tort reform” is a euphemism for altering the law to make it impossible for groups of people they have cheated and sickened to sue them. Tax reform took the hundreds of cheats, swindles, and illegals dodges Fred Trump and his wastrel children committed and made them all legal under present-day law.
Media amalgamation ensured that virtually everything in the way of news that Americans are exposed to are bland, corporate pablum, or raving neo-nazi right wing bullshit.
The article continues:
The top three wealthiest billionaires in the US – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population combined.
This is possible because the bottom fifth of US households are underwater, with zero or negative net worth. And the next fifth has so few assets to fall back on that they live in fear of destitution.
Three individuals, according to the article, are wealthier than the bottom 50% of the American population—some 170 million other people—combined. Twenty percent of the population have zero or negative assets, and another twenty percent live paycheck to paycheck, two weeks from being broke. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have more money than all those people.
The article note that allowing for inflation, the wealth of the top 1% has increased sixty-fold since 1982, which coincidentally is when Reaganomics first kicked in.
Even Paul Volcker, no socialist, worried, “We’re developing into a plutocracy.” Much the way Stephen King is developing into a novelist.
The Founders feared the rise of an aristocracy as much as they feared the threats to a democratic government from the churches, corporations and authoritarians. To that end, they favored strong estate taxes (Jefferson proposed that the Constitution include a 100% estate tax on all real property!) and, while not willing to impose progressive income taxes, did worry about the potential for accumulation of wealth.
Since Reagan, estate taxes have all but vanished, and there has been a massive tax shift from corporations and the wealthy to the middle class. How vast? In 1952%, the median 40% of wage earners paid 4% of their income in federal taxes, about 20% of federal revenues. Corporations made up about half of federal revenues. Now, the middle class pay about 60% and corporations less than 25%, and in return for that large tax burden, they get a government spending trillions on a bloated and largely useless military, and scheming to steal the common funds used for old age pensions and what scant medical coverage they have. In the meanwhile, they are ‘entertained’ by propaganda outlets that moan endlessly about how good the penniless have it because they don’t have to pay taxes.
Even as we talk, the Republicans in Congress, in a great, grand finale of a “fuck you” gesture, are trying to eliminate most of the remaining taxes the wealthy and corporations have to pay, another three trillion dollars over a ten year period. But no worries: they plan to cover part of the cost by stealing your pension fund. And Republicans, in a grim, desperate hope that they can fool the people one last time and steal everything else they own, are campaigning on promises to protect insurance companies from out-and-out raping their customers with pre-existing conditions, and still promising to balance the budget (they’ve already more than doubled the annual deficit) and oh, yes, by spending a few billions to send an amazing 15,000 heavily armed American troops to protect shivering, frightened, craven American right wingers from a bedraggled group of families with grand parents and children, all on foot, some barefoot, who are walking towards America, still well over a thousand miles away. You have to be a particularly abject sort of coward to fall for this “threat,” and a particularly vicious, cynical and cruel despot to pretend it’s a threat.
It cannot continue. Regulated capitalist societies lead to unchecked aggregation of wealth and then implode, without exception. And the present aggregation of wealth in America is the greatest the world has ever seen. So the plutocrats are spending billions to persuade the American people that only by sacrificing themselves, their wealth, their livelihoods, and their standard of living, can they help the plutocrats avoid the very destruction the plutocrats are causing.
These parasites—and anyone who makes $100 billion is taking far more than they are giving—have to be checked, or they will destroy the host. You are the host, and you are being bled dry.
Bring back progessivity in taxes. Bring back a strong estate tax. Eliminate Citizens United and make campaign spending from a common fund. Make it easier for people to sue corporations that have cheated them or sickened them. Stop lionizing opulant filth like Donald Trump.
That, or die like a dog in the gutter, convulsed by the actions of a million fleas.
Or perhaps a half dozen fleas, each the size of a hyena.