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I'm not saying this is the best way to deal with the state budget deficits. I'm not saying this is my advice or policy prescription.

But, to put the so-called state budget crises in context with our exploding gap between the mega rich and everyone else, consider this [insert adjective: crazy/humbling/jaw-dropping/outrageous/enlightening] fact:

If you combined the cumulative wealth of the 10 richest people in America -- about $271 billion, give or take the GDP of a small country -- you could pay off all of the state budget deficits projected for next year ($145 billion) and still have an average of $12.6 billion left over for each of the 10 richest Americans.

I don't know about you, but that just turns my stomach.

With the country's economy still so shaky and with so many millions of Americans still out of work; with our federal and state budgets in so much trouble and with the power-hungry Walkers of the world cracking down so hard on teachers and other state employees; and with so few people doing so obscenely well, you do have to ask the question: at what point do these titans have enough and when is it appropriate to demand that they step up and give back to a country that has been so obscenely generous to them?

I'm not enough of an economics expert to know where the right balance is, but you don't have to be an expert to know that something is terribly wrong with America today. You just have to have eyes, an honest brain, and just a tiny bit of moral curiosity to see the dire consequences of allowing such economic disparity between the few who have so much and the many who are losing everything.

The good news is that there is a growing awareness of the growing income and wealth disparity in America. Mother Jones has performed an incredible service in breaking this stark issue down with such compelling graphics.

Here's another point: The American GDP was just under $10.3 trillion large in 2001 when W. was selected. Last year, it was $14.5 trillion. That's an increase of about $4.2 trillion in the last decade = +41%. And yet, here we middle and worker classers are -- struggling, living paycheck to paycheck, barely treading water -- and that's the fortunate ones.

Just where the hell did all that money go? Of course we know the answer -- the mega rich sucked it all up. Over the last decade, the number of billionaires in the world has more than tripled from 322 in 2000 to 1011 in 2010.

It's time for these mega rich to stop hoarding. It's time for them to step up and do what's right for our country in our time of need.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Revenue is the answer, all right. (6+ / 0-)

      Small adjustments in state taxes could easily offset budget problems.  

      Here in NY, higher taxes on the wealthiest 2% would allow the state to avoid devastating cuts in health and education.  I disagree with nay-sayers who argue that this will hurt the state's economy.  

      Wealthy New Yorkers (like the wealthy in any state) benefit from an educated, healthy, civil society, with functioning infrastructure and government services.  

      Rich folks won't flee a state because of higher taxes.  But they sure will flee when the state ceases to function properly, and when people get desperate due to blocked opportunity and potential.

  •  you are right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, sfcouple

    and i agree but can you name me one event in global history where the rich
    gave what they had to save the country.
    i cant remember one

  •  More of this, please (5+ / 0-)

    This is excellent.  We need more examples that show, in concrete terms, the outlandish income inequality in this country.

    In what world could ten people have done enough to honestly earn that much wealth, and be truly worth that much, while hundreds of millions of others who work and try to make an honest living, be worth so relatively little?

    •  you never got überrich (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, joe shikspack, trumpeter

      in history with HONEST WORK .
      the bigger problem i see here in the USA is
      that many people seem to belive that god has helped them to get rich so they must be good godloveing people.
      and the llogic conclusion is that the havenots are so poor because god hates them and they deserve it.

      •  There's a new show on TV.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerald 1969 which millionaires "slum it" for a few weeks.

        I just saw the start of an interview with one such millionaire. She starts by saying that she was poor, then two years later she was a millionaire. (She then plugs her books.) She was given $40 to start her stint in the slums and she declares that this was "too much" because she now has five children and she feeds them for less than $100 a week.

        I couldn't stand to watch anymore. This is a brilliant ploy by the TV corporations, along the lines of the one where CEO's work in the trenches for a day or two.

        See, millionaires are nice people! CEO's are nice people!  You could be a millionaire if you wanted to! You're poor because you can't feed your family on $40 a week!  

        Yep, give one or two of those poor people or the guy who works for $8 per hour a check for $10,000 or a Las Vegas vacation! Ain't rich people wonderful?

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 06:49:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And they are doing better than the states... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, gerald 1969, trumpeter

    According to Forbes the 10 richest increased their net worth by 10% from '09 to '10.  (Added about $25B to their net worth.)  

    They seem to be weathering the storm better than most states and most other folks.

  •  Saw a documentary on mega-yachts.... (0+ / 0-)

    You're talking $100 million plus yachts here.

    The thing that got me was a shot of one of the owners.....mid-forties, tan, slim, healthy, dressed in shining white yachting togs. And he says, with a big grin:

    "You've got to spend the money on something."

    Toys. Toys. Bragging rights.  He could have spent $20 million on a gorgeous yacht, if his actual purpose was to sail and see the world.

    Would it really kill this guy to pay 5% more in taxes? Would it?

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 06:41:58 AM PST

  •  Absolutely the heart of the matter... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    class war, anyone?

  •  Society is a social construct--it is OUR wealth (0+ / 0-)

    that they have hoarded, that the Bush tax cuts have shoveled to them.

  •  Another perspective... (0+ / 0-)

    The average net worth of the top ten is ~$27B.  If they personally gave up enough to solve the states budget issues their average net worth "crashes" to less than half or $12.6B EACH.

    Imagine the tremendous shock and stress to their current lifestyle.  Some might go "broke" as they probably have leveraged their lifestyle.  All would have to greatly downsize assets (sell a yacht, layoff the staff at the house in the Caribbean, sell the G-5, fire the crew and start using NetJets, etc).  There would be job losses and a negative impact to the stimulus they provide to the economy.

    Compare that with the "masses".  1 million people lost their homes last year.  (Most of those are probably primary residences.)  Most don't lose a primary residence because they have other assets they just didn't feel like liquidating.  States govts have cut 400K jobs since '08.  Adding to the 14M Americans unemlpoyed.

    Hard to imagine the top giving up half their wealth would have that large of a negative impact on our economy.

  •  If they cared (0+ / 0-)

    If they cared at all about this country, they would hand it over to the government. I mean 12 billion isn't enough? I know it's crazy, but if I had that much money and our country was in the trouble it's in, I would hand it over. I swear I would.

    •  Beyonce (0+ / 0-)

      Beyonce just gave the $1,000,000 that she made performing for Ghaddafi in 2009 to Haiti relief. If she can do that, why can't our wealthiest help ease the pain in this country. I know it will never happen but...

  •  Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (0+ / 0-)

    are already committed to giving away ALL of their money. The Gates Foundation is a leader in the fights against disease (such as malaria and TB in the third world) and for education for the poor. Why should their money go to states who are only bankrupt because they refuse to appropriately tax the ultra AND merely rich? Not all billionaires are as philanthropic and generous as the Gates and Buffett families, but IMO those guys' money is already being put to very good use.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:49:48 AM PST

  •  And I could rob a bank ... (0+ / 0-)

    using the money to pay off my debts and still leaving plenty left over for the bank to keep.

    I won't do that, however, because it's WRONG.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 09:11:44 AM PST

  •  TAX the RICH! (0+ / 0-)

    They have it but don't want to pay their fair share.

    Rebuilding US infrastructure will produce millions of good-paying construction, manufacturing, and engineering jobs.

    End the unfunded wars,
    End the unfunded tax cuts for billionaires.
    (FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY requires it!)

    Our country needs vapor compression distllation water purification plants everywhere.
    Our country is the Saudi Arabia of Wind Power -- the Great Plains can provide ample electric power pollution-free for the entire country for a long time.
    Every rooftop could and should be a photovoltaic/solar power plant.
    Electric-powered cars and high-speed trains could and would revolutionize life in this country.

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