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Thursday, February 24

It's Worse Than You Thought

Mother Jones has put together a few charts to illustrate how bad the problem is.

And what might be the problem, you may ask.

Well you might ask, gentle readers.

The chart below illustrates the percentage of actual wealth in the United States held by quintile:

As you can see (you may need to zoom it up), most Americans think that the upper 20% of the population hold about 60 percent of the wealth. That's bad enough, but the reality is the top bar of the graph. According to this, courtesy of two guys at Harvard Business School and Duke University, the top 20% of the population hold a bit over EIGHTY PERCENT of the actual wealth in this country.

Eighty Percent.

Eighty cents out of every dollar.

To call this a minor problem is to call gang rape a mild social deviation.

If you're in the bottom quintile (that itty bitty light blue bar way to the right in the top graph), you're basically fucked, a total loss with no insurance. The article suggests that the bottom 20% makes about $31,244 a year.

So, what's the solution?

Taxes on the upper 20%. Now, before you gasp in horror at the "filthy Socialist," I'm a lifelong Republican, but unlike so many modern GOPers I'm a clear-minded thinker.

I'm not asking for much of a hike on the top tax bracket, just to what it was when Lyndon Johnson gave the right a tax cut back in 1964. That is, the top tax rate was pegged at 55.63%.

Yes, yes, yes - I can hear the Koch Brothers swooning from here, along with all the rich parvenus who used to disgrace the airwaves on VH-1's My Super Sweet Sixteen.

Get over it. I also advocate eliminating the payroll tax cap, by which those people making over $106,800 a year pay little to nothing in Social Security taxes. That's how you ensure the solvency of the social safety net for the next century, folks.

Of course, raising taxes is not popular - it's the right course of action, but not popular - but people have to realize what taxes actually are.

Taxes are fees, fees you pay for services rendered.

You like roads? Safe skies to travel in? Safe houses? Clean air? Unpoisoned food? Those are services the government provides, and for which you pay a fee.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "With taxes, I buy civilization."

No taxes? No civilization.

So it's time the greedy bastards who hold a preponderance of the wealth in this country to pony up and pull their own weight. Otherwise, I call dibs on the torch and pitchfork concession.

Because this level of income disparity is something you normally associate with nations and societies like Egypt, pre-Castro Cuba, Libya, Tunisia, and so on.

The conclusions I leave as a lesson for the student.

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