Mr. Krugman seems to have discovered the wheel! It is great to see this in the NY Times–an essentially conservative paper; however, this is incredibly old news. The wealthiest 1% of Americans make 25% of the income and have 40% of the wealth in the United States. The wealth of that 1% is largely concentrated in .01%–a thousand families.
The dimensions of wealth inequality in this country have been steadily rising since the men running Ronald Reagan started dismantling the New Deal; highlights of their campaign were union busting, pouring buckets of money into the military industrial complex–a subtle but extremely effective form of income redistribution, and cutting the top tax bracket from 70 to 28%.
Clinton dutifully played his part in the war on working Americans and the poor with the devastating GATT and NAFTA agreements, signing the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act in 1999–which undid what was left of the Glass-Steagall Act after the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act signed by Reagan in 1980–and let’s not forget welfare reform.
When he signed NAFTA, Clinton told us that supplemental workers’ rights and environmental agreements were needed. Well, Bill, we’re still waiting on those supplemental agreements. Then we had Bush’s outrageous tax cuts, which Obama has not rolled back, and the multiple wars of choice — both effective income redistribution programs.
Next came the bailouts for the banks. We pony up 3/4 of a trillion dollars to help the banks overcome their self-inflicted, greed-driven, tumble into insolvency. At the very same time that we are bailing out the banks, ordinary working Americans all over the country are losing their homes, their retirements, their benefits–as the Occupy folks say; Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!
Now there is a proposal afoot to allow corporations that can put a minimum of a billion dollars on the table to buy large numbers of foreclosed houses from the federal government, i.e., from American taxpayers, for pennies on the dollar. Of course, if those rates had been made available to the folks that used to own those homes they would still be in them! What’s the result? People can rent the house they used to own from Goldman Sachs!
Obama’s healthcare bill has no public option, there will be no not-for-profit healthcare in these United States, so the insurance companies get 40,000,000 new customers and a few of their most egregious practices get overturned. That is what passes for healthcare reform in the United States. Obama is currently working on a collection of additional free trade agreements. I’m not even going to talk about corporate welfare because the effect of such talk on my blood pressure seriously and adversely affects my life expectancy. The federal government consistently functions as an enormous and extremely effective income redistribution program.
As for the idea that the growing inequality in wealth might be a threat to our democracy, someone should tell Mr. Krugman that ship has long ago sailed! Between 2000-2004, the pharmaceutical industry in the United States spent $40,000 a day, seven days a week, lobbying Washington. They’re not giving that money away. It is an investment. Many of the wealthiest individuals and the largest corporations give enormous contributions to both parties. They want the winners to be beholden to them no matter how the election turns out! Go take a look at this.
The United States already is, for virtually all practical purposes, a plutocracy in democratic clothing. It is government for sale and there is no shortage of buyers!
I could easily go on for pages outlining outrage after outrage about how our so-called representatives sell us out to the highest bidders.
I close with this thought: OCCUPY EVERYTHING! We are the 99% and we will not be silenced!
Dr. Joel Tierno is a professor of philosophy at the College of Southern Nevada.