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View Diary: They Are the 1% - A Really Scary Follow Up (95 comments)

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  •  I don't think I can agree . . . (9+ / 0-)

    . . . with your proposed method for "divvying up" the American people, not when the problem under discussion is income disparity and the high concentration of wealth in only a few hands.  I personally don't care if the 1% are all saints, or even angels merely wearing the form of man, the problem is that (unlike when the middle-class was being created) we've since enacted policies that funnel more money to the wealthy few and less to the average person.

    There are a lot of ways we've been doing that.  For example, we've stopped imposing progressive income taxes, we've eliminated the estate tax -- specifically designed to prevent too large an accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few families, we've eliminated private sector unions as counterparts to the high concentration of capital, we've seen an organized attack on things like the minimum wage, etc., etc., etc.  One doesn't have to believe that all this was done as part of some deeply evil, nefarious plot, one just has to recognize the effects of these (relatively) new policies benefiting the 1%.

    Wealth concentration and high income disparity is a problem in and of itself because, as Yglesias's chart indicates, that increase in wealth for the few comes directly at the expense of the many.  From WWII until about 1975 income growth for the average American closely tracked the productivity growth of the U.S. as a whole; in other words, as the United States got richer, everybody got richer:  the poor, the middleclass, and the wealthy.  But about 30-odd years or so that stopped happening and, instead, nearly all the increase in U.S. productivity stopped being shared and instead was directed to a very few.  The poor and the middleclass were simply not permitted to share in the country's wealth.

    This is also a problem because as more and more wealth is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, it stops being distributed.  If money doesn't circulate, the economy as a whole doesn't grow.  So an increasing concentration of income growth means there is a decreasing investment in the economy as a growing concern.  Wealth concentration is itself an ailment of the economic body.

    Technically, it isn't necessary to believe the 1% are all evil in order to recognize that the 1% are getting all the money -- we just need to recognize that the 1% are getting all the money.  This, by definition, reflects a failure of the economic system, a failure that needs to be corrected.  Because wealth concentration and high income disparity is itself the problem that needs to be addressed, the criterion for distinguishing b/w the individuals involved is obviously their wealth and income -- not their civic-mindedness or greed or empathy.

    Far from being "arbitrary and simplistic" it is the only criterion directly applicable to the problem at issue.

    Politics is the neverending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

    by swellsman on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:41:33 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I agree that the problem is economic injustice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swellsman, Killer of Sacred Cows

      Where I think we may differ is regarding solutions (and assignment of blame).

      The problems were caused, in my opinion, by a number of factors including globalization, but most importantly and most cogently by our dismantling of the economic safeguards imposed in response to the Great Depression. This took many decades. It wasn't only the 1% who is responsible: the Reagan Revolution was more about people who wanted to become rich than about actual rich people. Surely many of the economic 1% understand that the current state of affairs is untenable in the long run. But emotions are involved. They don't think they've done anything wrong (and really, have they?) and they resent being blamed for everything. Many in the 99% are almost the converse: they think they've done everything right, and they resent how they keep getting poorer and less powerful. Emotions motivate but they also distract and mislead.

      I love the fact the people are demonstrating against economic injustice, and the 1%/99% rhetoric is OK as a start. I wouldn't want it to go on much longer, though. The solution is to pass better laws to place limits and safeguards on the economy. We need a rhetoric that is a better match to the underlying problems and their solutions. It's easy to mock the Tea for their bumper-sticker ideology, but it's not easy to ignore the effectiveness of sloganeering and branding to cohere a movement to achieve a common purpose.

      •  Oh, yeah, I agree with you on that. (3+ / 0-)

        That is sort of what I was trying to get at when I was saying that the moral culpability of the 1% doesn't really concern me.  I'm not even really interested in assigning blame to individuals so much as I am interested in trying to figure out what social policies need to be enacted in order to limit the growing income inequality we've been experiencing over the past coupla decades.

        Now, personally, I do believe that there are some in the 1% who quite obviously are deliberately plotting to exacerbate the situation.  Just as one example, I remember a coupla years ago reading a short article that listed the people responsible for something like 98% of the money spent lobbying to completely eliminate the estate tax.  There weren't that many individuals, and even fewer families represented.  I remember that the Walton family contributed the most but, then, they have to most to gain.

        But I also agree that there are a lot of misguided people in the 99% who also want to eliminate the estate tax out of some misunderstanding that it impacts them or simply because they don't understand the worthwhile economic compression it is intended to (and does) effect.  

        The policy outcome is the same regardless of who is lobbying for it or what that person's motives are - it is much more important to prevent that outcome than it is to demonize the people attempting to achieve it, no argument.

        Politics is the neverending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

        by swellsman on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 10:13:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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