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David Cay Johnston, who was awarded a Pulitzer prize in 2001 for his exposé on inequities in the tax code, and who pioneered journalistic writing about income and wealth inequality long before others focused on that area, appeared Tuesday on the "Kagro in the Morning" radio show hosted by David Waldman. I was there for an hour as well. We discussed gun regulations, the need for relentless organizing to engender reform and the bind that tax policy has so profoundly contributed to over the past few decades. You can listen to our conversation by clicking on the podcast at the bottom of Night Owls (Johnson comes on about 70:00:00). You can read more of Johnston's writing at CJR.org or Tax.com. Here is an excerptfrom a a recent Johnston column that we discussed today:

Incomes and tax revenues have grown from 2009 to 2011 as the economy recovered, but an astonishing 149 percent of the increased income went to the top 10 percent of earners.

If you wonder how that can happen, the answer is simple: Incomes fell for the bottom 90 percent. [...]

In 2011 entry into the top 10 percent, where all the gains took place, required an adjusted gross income of at least $110,651. The top 1 percent started at $366,623.
The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Ponder that last fact for a moment—the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.

That extreme concentration, however, is far from the most jaw-dropping figure that can be distilled from the new Saez-Piketty analysis. That requires a long-term comparison of those at or near the top with the bottom 90 percent.

In 2011 the average AGI of the vast majority fell to $30,437 per taxpayer, its lowest level since 1966 when measured in 2011 dollars. The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966. For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.

Plot those numbers on a chart, with one inch for $59, and the top 10 percent's line would extend more than 163 feet.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006Joe Wilson Responds to Washington Post Editorial:

The world awakened this morning to a puzzle of ridiculousness: a Washington Post op/ed that can only be described as a hit piece on Joseph Wilson's "absurdly over-examined visit" (the editorial's words, certainly not mine) to Niger, in which the editorial staff claims there was no effort at the White House to discredit Mr. Wilson ... while its news pages headlined an investigative piece on the front page entitled "A `Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic."

The ironic juxtaposition of the two articles was not lost on Mr. Wilson, who in a private communication to me this morning (sorry, no link) made the following statement:

Sunday's Washington Post lead editorial once again misrepresents the facts as the paper's own reporting in the Barton/Linzer article in the same edition makes clear. While I respect the separation of news and editorial function it might be helpful to the Post's readers if the editorial board would at least read the news before offering its judgments.  One of the reasons my trip to Niger has been overanalyzed, as the Post editorial says, is because people like those who wrote the editorial continue to misconstrue the facts and the conclusions."

Tweet of the Day:

Mattel's Mexican Barbie doll comes with passport, documentation, and a Chihuahua tucked under her arm. Really. http://t.co/...
@drgrist via Tweetbot for Mac



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, we started with the extraordinary #GunFAIL run, with 3 shootings in 3 days by kids 4 & under. Armando noted the threatened gun bill filibuster, the continuing "Grand Bargain" fixation, Sen. Baucus' undermining every other Dem on taxes, and Peter Orszag's call for even more safety net cuts. Meteor Blades joined for more gun policy chat & stayed on to talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave us a far-reaching, hour-long, multiple topic interview, on guns, economics, political activism, campaign finance reform, the runaway financial sector & the rampant income inequality it's produced.


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