Home > Cons-Lie, Crime, Employment rights, Republicans > Hell Yes It’s Class Warfare! Part 2

Hell Yes It’s Class Warfare! Part 2

Wealth Is Power

    As I demonstrated in Part 1, there is a gross inequity in the way wealth is distributed in this country. And wealth is power – often the self-interested use that power to make sure the playing field remains uneven. Wealth is translated into power in several ways.

As indicated in Part 1, the top 10% of American households own about 85% of stocks. As shareholders, the wealthy are often able to influence corporate policy and corporate culture.
    As the majority of CEOs and board members of the largest companies are also included in the top 10%, they more directly influence corporate America. Corporate America spends billions of dollars each year lobbying our politicians to influence public policy and additional billions each election year funding the campaigns of both parties in a very successful effort to “buy votes”.
Private citizens also donate money to campaigns. The top 10% of households contribute 60% of all political and campaign donations, and more than 90% of all donations of more than $200. In 1996, the top 10 highest income zip codes contributed over $7 million dollars, while the bottom 100 zip codes contributed $7,000.
    According to Campaignfinance.org, about 90% of congressional elections are won by the candidate that spends the most money. The respective parties have both overwhelmingly chosen the presidential candidate who garnered the most cash as the party nominee.
    Wealth also pays for “think tanks” and experts who are employed to influence public and political opinion, or to simply think up new policies to benefit their employers’ interests.
    And how have the self-interested among the wealthy used this power to wage war on the rest of America? By putting into office politicians who write and vote for policy that is intended to keep the money at the top of the social pyramid and out of the hands of The Great Unwashed.
    As shown in Part 1, the wealth of the top 400 Americans doubled during Bush the Lesser’s administration. Where did that money come from? The liars who are selling America the myth of trickle down economics would have you believe that it is not a zero-sum game; that the pie gets larger for everyone. However, it is obvious that the money came from the bottom 80% of Americans, who lost median income and increased personal debt over the same period of time. This was done in a variety of ways with the help of mostly Republican politicians who also lined their own pockets along the way.
    The most obvious are the gratuitous tax cuts for the wealthy – the tax cuts about which in no less than two presidential debates Bush promised you, the American public, “overwhelmingly favored the middle class.” In addition the tax cuts in capital gains and inheritance, which only benefit the wealthy, Bush sold you a pig in a poke with income tax cuts. Obviously, the more money one earns, the larger the dollar figure results from the same percentage of tax cuts; but more to the point, most Americans pay the majority of their taxes in the form of payroll taxes. Most Americans, but not the wealthy. So a cut in income taxes results in staggering amounts of money for those in the top 10%, but the rest of us received an average of $800 a year as a result of these tax cuts. And to make it even more unfair, the wealthy only pay payroll taxes on the first $150,000 of their income, while the rest of us pay it on all of ours.
    The effective tax rate on the top 1% of families has decreased from 85.5% in the 1950s to 30.9% under Bush’s latest tax cut. In contrast, the effective tax rate on the middle class has risen from 5.3% in 1948 to 24.6%.
Sales taxes also work on an unfair sliding scale. Because it is a flat tax that everyone pays, and the working and middle classes spend more of their income by necessity, they pay a higher percentage of their income in sales taxes than do the rich.
    While working and middle class Americans put nearly 100% of their income back into the economy, the rich continue to amass and hold more and more of our nation’s total wealth. As our economy nose dives, and wealth continues to become more concentrated, it is imperative that those who both use and benefit the most from our system of laws and governance, infrastructure and populace return to paying their fair share of the burden.

    In part three I will address how special interests (read wealthy) have influenced policy on issues that have weakened labor unions, weakened bankruptcy protection, and weakened entitlement and social programs all the while putting more money in the hands of those who already have it.

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