Will the Mississippi Flood This Spring?
Jay Leno recently quipped: “Huge riots continuing in Egypt. Experts say one of the problems over there is, there’s a huge difference in wealth between the extremely rich and the vast majority of people who have nothing. Well, thank God that could never happen in this country.” Don’t kid yourself; it has happened.
On February 21, 2010, The New York Times reported: “ 345: The average amount, in millions of dollars, earned by the 400 highest-earning households in the United States in 2007, according to Internal Revenue Service data reported by Tax.com. The number is up from $263 million in the previous year, an increase of 31 percent. Each of the top-earning 400 households paid an average tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest since the I.R.S. began tracking the data in 1992. The top 400 earned a total of $138 billion in 2007, up from $105.3 billion a year earlier.” Furthermore, also according to David Cay Johnston at tax.com, “Since 1992, the bottom 90 percent of Americans have seen their incomes rise by 13 percent in 2009 dollars, compared with an increase of 399 percent for the top 400.”
From 1951 to 1964 the highest income tax rate rates in the USA were 91%. Were those high-income earners living poorly with such a large bite being taken out of their earnings? Hardly. Most were living in fine houses, sending their kids to private schools if desired, taking nice vacations, and many had two homes.
What happened? Top income tax rates are now much lower than half the fifties rate and there is no inheritance tax. For over fifty years the Republicans (and now the meek Democrats following like obedient lap dogs) have been drumming into the American public that any kind of equitable wealth distribution is anti-business, contrary to the sacred free market, socialistic, and un-American. And the master plan has worked beautifully. The next stage of the plan is already in full swing: bust unions, further cut social welfare programs, claim that Social Security is broke when it isn't, lower Medicare and Medicaid benefits, rescind pensions for public employees, bash teachers, and ignore the collapsing infrastructure. In New Jersey Governor Christie can barely control his contempt for teachers. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has proposed a bill to eliminate many collective bargaining rights for public workers and cut their pay and benefits. He has alerted the National Guard to watch for actions taken by disgruntled state, county, and municipal employees. Of course, like just about every politician from Obama on down, these governors are crying poverty.
Don’t believe a word of it. It ain’t true. We are waging two endless and useless wars. How could the US possibly be impoverished? If it were, it couldn’t make war. Don’t believe the oligarchy that runs and benefits from our government—that is our government. And don’t fall for the alleged horrors of the national debt. The United States is the largest economy in the world.
Remember Egypt. It is time to unite against the inequities here at home. Union and non-union workers must unite with the students because both are getting screwed. Real income for the middle class American has been mostly stagnant for the last thirty years. Student aid for college students is dropping, eliminating the chance for the middle class as well as the poor student to get the education that is necessary in the twenty-first century. Urban elementary and secondary schools are physically deteriorating and class size is growing. With a unified labor-student movement, demonstrations could be launched in every city in the country. The growing show of force could culminate in a giant demonstration in Times Square, shutting down the heart of New York City, the Crossroad of the world, for as long as it takes for the government to change its policies. The beauty of such a massive force is that—unlike the anti-war rallies of the sixties, the workers and the students would be united. It would not be the kids against the hardhats this time.
First it was the Nile. Is the Mississippi also rising?