Inequality in Their Gilded Age…

From AlterNet: “Tax responsibilities have shifted off of large wealth holders and onto wage earners, off corporations and onto individuals, off the progressive federal tax system and onto state and local tax systems, which tend to be more regressive. Tax cuts for the rich have shrunk federal services — and shifted responsibilities to states for health, anti-poverty, transportation and more. That’s the shaft part. …

We’re in America’s “Second Gilded Age.”

— Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good.”

Mark Karlin

“On April 15, the Mad Hatters of the Teabagging Party protested that the extreme income redistribution over the last 30 years continue unabated so that the super-rich become even richer as America’s middle class sinks into oblivion.

There’s been a class war going on since Ronald Reagan was elected, and it’s been a war on the working class as the average wage earner got mugged by the largest shift of wealth to the rich in American history. BuzzFlash interviewed Chuck Collins on the income redistribution scam that has been pulled off in full view of the American public, fattening the wallets of the already financially engorged fat cats.

Excerts of the interview with Mr. Collins:

With the economic meltdown, we’ve all gotten a “crash course” in how extreme inequality is “BAD for the economy. With wages stagnant for three decades, most working families have survived by working MORE hours and borrowing on credit cards and against home values, if they are fortunate enough to own one. The consumption of the bottom 70 percent of U.S. households has been based on DEEBT — not on real wage growth.

Meanwhile, wealth has dramatically concentrated at the TOP of the pyramid. The super rich in the top 1 percent put massive amounts of this wealth into the speculative casino economy — which helped wreck the economy. In our view, extreme inequalities contributed to the economic collapse…We’ve become dangerously unequal as wealth has concentrated in very few hands. The top 1 percent has over 34 percent of all private wealth — more than the bottom 95 percent of the population combined. In the mid-1970s, this wealthiest 1 percent had less than 20 percent of private wealth. This is a dramatic shift in a short time. We’re in America’s “Second Gilded Age.”  This matters because wealth is POWER…For 30 years, right-wingers have pushed for policy rule changes in the economy (trade, taxes, government spending, deregulation) that have FUELED a radical redistribution of wealth FROM the bottom and middle of society — to the tippy top. It’s been a Robin Hood in reverse.

When President [Barack] Obama proposes to RAISE the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, they call him a “socialist.” Imagine, a 4.6 percent hike in taxes could tip us into a totalitarian socialist state.

What would these right-wing extremists call Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, who presided over a TOP TAX RATE of 91 percent on the ultra rich?…Remember anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s stated goal: “I want to SHRINK government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.”

Tax responsibilities have SHIFTED off of large wealth holders and onto wage earners, off corporations and onto individuals, off the progressive federal tax system and onto state and local tax systems, which tend to be more regressive.

Tax cuts for the rich have SHRUNK  federal services — and shifted responsibilities to states for health, anti-poverty, transportation and more. That’s the SHAFT part.

The result is a WEAKENED REGULATORY STATE — which, by the way, was the goal of the neo-con anti-tax, anti-government activists. So speculators boost up housing or oil prices — and we all pay more. It’s a form of taxation — although the money goes to speculators. With the lack of strong government oversight, we all end up paying more to private corporations and speculators….The problem of runaway CEO pay has been alarming for 20 years. In 1980, the GAP between highest and average paid workers in a company was about 42 to 1. Today, it is over 300 to 1.

Excessive pay to top managers promotes a very short-term outlook, encouraging CEOs to do whatever it takes to boost their share price for the next quarter. It provides a disincentive for long-term company health and growth.

Wall Street’s culture of GREED HAS WRECKED our economy. Most ordinary taxpayers don’t know we subsidize excessive pay by allowing corporations to deduct bloated pay packages…”

see: 

http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/137057

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