Sunday, July 22, 2012
You're Either Rich Or Screwed In The U.S.
Now we have more proof of just how economically out-of-whack- the United States really is -- just look at the chart above. This country has been sliding downhill economically for most Americans for several decades now -- ever since the Republicans were able to institute their "trickle-down" economic policies (cutting taxes for the rich, deregulating banks and Wall Street, cutting education funding, diluting union strength, and suppressing wage growth for working Americans). But after the mismanagement of the Bush administration, throwing the nation into recession and the government into deficit spending, things have gotten much worse for 90% of Americans. Consider the following wealth distribution:
Bottom 50% of Americans control only 1.1% of the nation's wealth.
Bottom 90% of Americans control only 25.4% of the nation's wealth.
Top 10% of Americans control about 74.5% of the nation's wealth.
Top 1% of Americans control about 34.5% of the nation's wealth.
This is the reason that this country put controls on capitalism in the past -- because unregulated capitalism benefits only the rich and leaves most citizens fighting for the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich. It never has, and never will, work for the benefit of all of a country's citizens.
I will shock some right-wing true believers when I say this, but we must re-distribute some wealth and income in this country. For many the words "wealth redistribution" are dirty words. They simply don't understand (or won't admit) that wealth is being redistributed in our economy all the time (and in the economies of all other countries). You can't have a monetary system without wealth being redistributed -- it's just not possible.
The problem is that the Republican policies favored the rich over every other American -- and those policies redistributed most of the country's wealth and income away from the bottom 90% and into the bank accounts of the richest 10% (and especially the richest 1%). It is time to reverse part of that redistribution -- so that some of it flows back down to the 90%. The Republicans had claimed "trickle-down" would do that, but they lied. It never did, and it never will.
But there are time-tested methods of restoring more economic balance in our society, and it is time we used them again.
* We need to strengthen unions (which was the driving force in building the middle class).
* We need to tax the rich more (because they are taxed now at the lowest level since WWII).
* We need to tax all income at the same rate as earned income (with no special rate for capital gains).
* We need to remove unneeded corporate subsidies and make sure corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
* We need to raise the minimum wage to its 1967 buying power.
* We need to create more good jobs in this country, and stop sending American jobs to other low-wage countries.
* We need to put more money into K-12 education, and make it less expensive for students to attend college (because education has always been the best path up the economic ladder).
* We need to create a single-payer government-run health system for all Americans (like Medicare) -- lowering benefit costs for businesses and allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries.
* We need to re-regulate banks and Wall Street, and prohibit them from gambling in the stock market with depositor money.
* We need to put more money into social programs to help Americans that have been left behind and are hurting.
* We need to make huge cuts to the military budget (because there's simply no justification for spending nearly half of the entire world's military spending, and this money can be spent better helping Americans).
* We need to eliminate the cap on FICA taxes, and make those who are rich pay the same percentage as workers currently pay.
I'm sure there are more things that can and should be done. But those I listed above would be a very good start toward restoring some economic justice in the United States.
(NOTE -- You can click on the chart above to get a larger and easier-to-read version.)