NobodyisFlyingthePlane and the plane is built for the rich and for corporations.
If it stays on its present course its going to take John Gault and all the others to their private oasis.
Not much will change until we get money out of politics.
The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has used its lobbying heft — it spent $272,000 in campaign donations per member of Congress last year, and it has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress — to bar the government from bargaining for drug prices in Medicare. That amounts to a $50 billion annual gift to pharmaceutical companies.
Things dont have to be this way.
Americans overwhelmingly prefer more economic equality.
Two business school professors, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, showed people charts of the distribution of wealth in egalitarian Sweden and in highly unequal America and asked them which kind of society they would prefer to live in, without saying which country each chart represented. Some 92 percent of Americans chose Sweden’s distribution.
America’s Stacked Deck http://nyti.ms/20FLXw9
This first article makes sense of a book from last year about inequality, while the second seems to miss the point altogether; albeit while providing two worthwhile quotes.
most economists probably would contend that a change that makes some people in society better off without making anyone worse off must ipso facto represent an increase in economic welfare. It follows that inequality in income and wealth engendered by economic growth typically is not to be deplored.
But…Too much inequality gives those at the top the:
power to rig market processes in their favor or to exploit taxpayers through what economists call “rent seeking” – that is, profit made on government contracts that is not matched by commensurate value delivered to society. That linkage can easily make the rest of society worse off.
“There is a danger that the rapid growth in top incomes can become self-reinforcing through the political process that money can bring,” Professor Deaton warns — a process that can turn democracy into plutocracy.
Progress begets inequality, and the resulting inequality can either encourage more progress or impede it, or both. Professor Deaton suggests that inequality in the modern United States has had both of these effects.
The following seems to me a truth not all are willing to accept.
For most of human history, family incomes were barely enough to survive and life was short. But in “The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality,” Professor Angus Deaton of Princeton writes that while economic progress allowed much of the world to escape poverty, “escapes leave people behind, and luck favors some and not others; it makes opportunities, but not everyone is equally equipped or determined to seize them.”
The idea that the rich are better, know more more, make better decisions, etc. is pervasive. It shouldn’t be and its not based in reality.
Krugman points out the deceits we accept which paint our misperceptions about the wealthy in the US.
I hope we can break through the propaganda so often cited that the wealthy are job creators. Its just these type of lies which are the reason NobodyisFlyingthePlane. As he points out the really wealthy are not at all job creators, they are hedge fund managers.
Conservatives want you to believe that the big rewards in modern America go to innovators and entrepreneurs, people who build businesses and push technology forward.
The finance industry isn’t really as useful to us as is often believed.
Once upon a time, you might have been able to argue with a straight face that all this wheeling and dealing was productive, that the financial elite was actually providing services to society commensurate with its rewards. But, at this point, the evidence suggests that hedge funds are a bad deal for everyone except their managers; they don’t deliver high enough returns to justify those huge fees, and they’re a major source of economic instability.
Given that history, do you really want to claim that America’s top earners — who are mainly either financial managers or executives at big corporations — are economic heroes?
Next time you hear someone declaiming about how cruel it is to persecute the rich, think about the hedge fund guys, and ask yourself if it would really be a terrible thing if they paid more in taxes.
Its interesting to note that income inequality doesn’t necessarily imply that people can’t move up the economic ladder. It seems that most people move up and down the ladder throughout their lives. The 1% isn’t a static group, nor are any of the other commonly referred to income groupings from top to bottom.
NYTimes: From Rags to Riches to Rags
Class struggle is an inevitability; it will always exist. Its the by product of wanting a better life. Class warfare is unlikely in the US. We have created a system in which those at the bottom are given just enough so that they will not unite and rise up.
We all know the reason that Communism, as practiced in the 20th Century, failed is that it never met the ideals of equality it was based on. The countries who willingly or unwillingly adopted it as a form of government never even came close to any level of equality between the leadership class and the masses. The same problem besets Democracies with economies based on Capitalist principles.
When there are different rules for those at the top of the socio-politcal-economic hierarchy it seems fair to say that any form of government/economy will have problems. This is at the heart of the problems in the United States.
GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the President charged, had only a “one-point plan” for the U.S. economy — “to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
It also needs to be said that the “folks” at the top are not just people, but also large corporations and organizations. These organizations effectively have a political vote through their lobbying and campaign funding efforts; affording them the effective rights of a citizen. This “vote” is often used to ensure that they play by different rules than others. Proxy ownership of these organizations through stocks, bonds, and other means further differentiates the rules for the “folks” at the top from those in the middle and bottom.
The issue with economic inequality won’t be solved by wealth redistribution. It will be quieted, if not solved, when a person who works 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year is paid enough by business owners (actual and proxy) to afford the basic necessities. A person who works 8/40/52 isn’t necessarily able to afford decent housing, decent food, decent education, and decent healthcare without aid from the government. If a capitalist “free market” (labor or otherwise) actually existed workers wouldn’t need government assistance (redistribution) to afford the basic necessities. They would be paid wages sufficient to afford those necessities. The problem is that the rules are written by and for the “folks” at the top and they create iniquities and inequalities which are grossly lopsided in favor of perpetuating those in economic ascendancy and preventing the flow up the socio-economic ladder of those who aren’t.
Changing ideas on estate taxes. On the surface they seem to be about redistributing wealth by taking from the rich and giving back to the poor. This look at the history of estate taxes suggests otherwise.
Income and wealth inequality is a consequence when NobodyisFlyingthePlane. Redistributing wealth isn’t the answer. Eliminating rules, policies, practices and procedures which keep the wealthy wealthy and the poor poor is.
Our current economic environment is beset by policies which make it easier for the wealthy to become more so and prevent the hard working from getting ahead and moving up. This country has been stuck having the same conversation over and over about handouts and entitlements. The problem is that reality is obscured by the belief that all or even most government handouts go to the poor. More handouts with far greater economic impact benefit the wealthy. The deck is stacked so that the wealthy will stay wealthy and the poor and middle class will stay poor.
Still, redistributing wealth isn’t the answer. Eliminating rules, policies, practices, and procedures which keep the wealthy wealthy and the poor poor is.
However I don’t believe that massive estate taxes are the answer. A 10% tax on large estates is probably reasonable. But beyond that I don’t see what business the government has grabbing half of something that was already taxed when it was income. As this article points out estate taxes didn’t arise to redistribute wealth. They arose because historically they were much easier to calculate and collect than income taxes.
Reducing inequality isn’t about punitively taxing the wealthy. It should start with equality of advantage. Eliminate all the tax breaks that wealthy individuals and and large businesses use to their advantage to avoid taxes and then there won’t be any need to tax the wealthy at exorbitant rates.
Level the playing field. Not all income is equal. The working stiff who worked hard in school, earned a masters, contributes to the profitability of a respected corporation, but doesn’t bring home enough to afford a nice house and a good education for his children does not have the same advantage as someone whose primary source of income is from stocks of companies such as GE which does everything it can to avoid paying taxes to the government.
This is the inequality which needs to he addressed.
NYTimes: Is the Estate Tax Doomed? http://nyti.ms/X6n2Xz