|Which Class is Warring?
||[Sep. 23rd, 2011|12:48 am]
So the right wing is now claiming that asking the very rich to give up their tax cuts (or even part of their tax cuts) is "class warfare." Let's look at the facts, shall we?
The tax rate for the wealthy reached its peak in 1945, at 66.4%. And yet, amazingly enough, we had an economic boom in the post WWII period. Kind of suggests that high taxes on the rich aren't that big a disincentive to economic growth, doesn't it?
In the past thirty years, the income and net-worth gap between the richest and the rest of us has widened, even as tax cuts for the rich continued to deepen. There's been a steady, almost straight-line drop in taxation at the high end from '45 to now. Over and over we've been told that tax cuts are good for us--that they free money for investment, that the rich will create more opportunity if we'll just let them alone. But that's a myth or a lie (take your pick.) Tax cuts have not resulted in more American jobs, because the rich--and corporations--went for profit over job creation. After all, as the US became less important as a market, with the growth of foreign markets, there was less reason to spend money at home, and more reason to look for cheaper labor abroad. So corporations and the rich have benefitted, and those who lost their jobs (and homes, and cars) lost out. The net worth of the rich--along with their annual income--has grown enormously, and the gap has continued to widen. It wouldn't have, if the super-rich were spending their tax-free money on making the economy healthier. The richest 1% controls over a third of Americans' net worth; the top 10% controls over three fourths. And that leaves a quarter or less for the other 90%. Yet it's the bottom--especially the lower half of the bottom--that gets the blame for costing too much.
The drop in average income is steep, too. The top 0.01% (that's one hundredth of one percent) has an average annual income of over $27million. The top 0.01 - 0.1% has an average annual income of over $3 million. The top 1% has an average annual income of over $1 million (which means some of them have an income below $1 million.). Below that, the top next nine percents (10% minus that top 1%) has an average annual income of about $164,000. And the average income of the other 90%? About $31,000. Doing the division, that means the top one-hundredth of one percent has an average income approximately 870 times that of the entire lowest 90%.
So who's making war on whom? When you look at it in terms of the figures, it's the top 1-2% who have "made class war" on the rest of us, by deliberately making our economic status worse, by cutting jobs, by cutting their support for government (which not only employed people but provided essential services, such as infrastructure, education, disaster relief.) They don't need Social Security--so no one should have it. They don't need help with medical expenses--so no one should. They routinely criticize the other 90% for daring to have needs--whether it's for help in old age, or after natural disasters, or for affordable housing--as having failed to save and invest wisely--though, as studies have shown, when income is uncertain (when jobs are disappearing like snow in August), or when circumstances demand a higher than possible income (often happens with accident, disease, or having a disabled child), no amount of previous fiscal responsibility will prevent disaster. And these blows damage the national human resource as well as the economy: when people who had good jobs and were good workers lose them, the "trickle down" effect can blight whole cities...and cause deaths.
What the "no taxes" people fail to admit is that they have benefitted from the taxpayer-provided infrastructure and services that the rest of us pay for: roads (the interstate highway system, for instance, which did not exist when I was a child), airports, sea ports, bridges, inland waterways, police, fire, and emergency services, public hospitals, schools and colleges and professional schools that deliver educated workers and skilled professionals to the workforce. As Elizabeth Warren says so well: nobody in this country got rich by themselves. ALL benefitted from some tax-provided services. Any business in this country has benefitted from both infrastructure (how you get raw and finished materials from origin to market, how you keep the populace free of cholera and other diseases) and a relative political stability compared to many other countries..
Put one of these whiners in a position without any of that--with no access to anything that used a tax-provided service or structure--and they'd be screaming bloody murder in a week. No driving on any public street or highway. No walking on a public sidewalk or street. No public water supply at your house. Kids can't go to a tax-supported school, college, or university. If there's a fire, no one will come. If someone vandalizes your house or kicks in your door, police won't come. Have a heart attack or break some bones--no ambulance, and no bed in a hospital supported (partly or wholly) by taxes. No access to the tax-supported courts, no access to any public agency or representative (county commissioner, city council, state or U.S. legislator) because, after all, taxes pay their salaries. In case of disaster, rescue teams and other aid will pass you by...fire, EMS, National Guard, etc. all get tax money.
So the class warfare, as I see it, has been the determination of those in the million+/year bracket to accumulate more and more and more, and contribute less and less and less, at the expense of the rest of the citizenry of this country. It's not class warfare to insist that they contribute more.