Because I don't SEE that wealth in action. I see my friends and coworkers, who all live at more-or-less the same basic income level. It's hard to be outraged in a immediate way when that 1% is a group of people that I know about through articles like this, nothing more. They are an idea more than a reality. I live in a world where people get wistful or driven over an income increase/raise of $5,000 or $10,000 a year. That 1%? Ghosts I will never encounter.
Actually, the top corporate tax rate of 35% is high, but still less than basically all of Europe, at least compared to the data in this chart.
I tend to think of social class as comprised of two elements - income and post-material values (eg. "quality of life", equality, environment trump economy), so there are four possible combinations. I don't think class is the dominant identity - obviously most people have both class and regional identities - but it is increasing.
Rich-post material: these are the educated professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.) that tend towards the Liberal party (but sometimes also vote Conservative out of economic interests). These are the folks a policy like the green shift courts.
Rich-non post material: the wealthy soul-less suburbanites to some, the entrepreneurial heart of Canada to others. This is obviously a strong constituency for the Conservatives.
Poor-post material: these are folks that are often educated but slipped through the cracks - a growing group with the rising access and declining payoff for post-secondary education. The guy with a phd in philosophy that works in Chapter's makes up this group. They offer fertile ground for the NDP.
Poor-non post material: these are the salt-of-the-earth lunch-bucket (or increasingly "do you want fries with that") workers of the world. They are poor, have always been poor, and yet the Conservatives have made inroads here on values issues, but also by focusing tax cuts on the working class. Of course a lot of these voters vote NDP as well.
[The President] took further action against the six defiant steel companies. The government had contracts with U.S. Steel and Lukens Steel to provide $5.5 million in steel for the Polaris submarines. He immediately gave the order to Lukens, which remained among the steel companies that had not yet raised prices. It was decided to place pressure on the five other steel companies that intended to increase prices; 9 percent of steel's total business came from the U.S. government, so the government's remaining steel orders would go to the six companies that refused to raise prices.
Next, [the Attorney General] became involved, his interest piqued by a news story in the Washington Star that indicated U.S. Steel had pressured Bethlehem Steel to raise its prices. Bobby believed this provided evidence of illegal price fixing. He ordered the collection of evidence — both personal and professional — from the homes and offices of steel executives, and FBI agents arrived at steel executives' homes in the middle of the night on April 12."Link
In abandoning its traditional fiscal conservatism for tax-cutting, the GOP could now be offering goodies to voters rather than taking them away. ...Yet political opportunism, too, only goes so far as an explanation. ...tax cuts for the rich tend to lack public support altogether. If mere vote-chasing were all that lay behind Republican tax-cut mania, you’d expect the party to embrace more broad-based tax cuts, as opposed to the sharply regressive tax cuts that lavish a majority of the benefit upon a small fraction of the populace.
There is one idea that explains Republican behavior: moral disgust at income redistribution. Since it doesn’t poll well, this is not an idea that you often find expressed in talking points or in other means of public persuasion. But occasionally this sentiment pops up in the form of a kind of raw royalism, usually from conservatives who don’t have to run for office. Former Bush economist Greg Mankiw endorses the belief that free markets are a flawless arbiter of income distribution. Republicans, he writes, believe that “in a free society, people make money when they produce goods and services that others value, and that, as a result, what they earn is rightfully theirs.” Adds American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, “[I]t is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can.”
When Republican elected officials pay fealty to these ideas, it is usually through oblique references. They often bemoan the fact that nearly half of all taxpayers pay no income tax (which ignores the burdens of federal payroll taxes) or that the top 1 percent is paying a rising share of the tax burden (which is true, but only because the top 1 percent is earning a higher share of the income). The underlying sentiment is that the practice of levying higher tax rates upon the rich amounts to an oppressive form of discrimination—democracy as mob rule.
By historical standards, Obama’s insistence, when he presented his deficit reduction plan at George Washington University on April 13, that he will press to reinstate the Clinton-era personal income tax rate of 39.6 percent on households earning above $250,000 (roughly the top 2 percent), is small-scale stuff. But such is the alignment of the parties today—the Democrats occupying a spot once held by moderate Republicans, as the Republicans attempt to build their Galtian-Roarkian Valhalla—that the battle will be immense.
America's income inequality is worse than that in places like Pakistan and Ethoipia and roughly equivalent to that in Uganda and the Ivory Coast. Before its revolution, Egypt's income inequality — which played a role in sparking the uprising against former President Mubarak's regime — was actually better than that in the U.S.
This is some dubious company. And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted today, America has the worst income inequality amongst 24 nations in the the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development...
Income inequality in the U.S. is currently the worst its been since the 1920s. Just the richest 400 Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans combined, and the richest 10 percent of Americans control two-thirds of the country’s net worth. Currently, the top one percent of households make nearly 25 percent of the total income in the country, after they made less than 10 percent in the 1970s. Between 1980 and 2005, "more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent."
One of the manifestations of this inequality is hedge fund managers making as much in two minutes as Navy SEALs make in a year. Yet, Republicans in Congress are still content to whine about the unfairness of returning tax rates on the wealthy to the level at which they were under President Bill Clinton. And of course they consider new tax brackets for millionaires — like those proposed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — to be entirely out of the question.
I used to think that the right strategy was to muddle through in a context created by sophisticated financial markets. Human beings, as individuals and as policymakers, have limited information and are prone to flawed choices. Markets aggregate the information and foresight of millions... I think that this view, once my view, is now completely discredited...
The instruments we trade hide information and prevent adjustments as frequently as they reveal and promote them... Our financial institutions are best understood as means by which certain groups within our society protect and perpetuate themselves, and as mechanisms by which covert prerequisites of stability are maintained. Of course markets were never going to be perfect — no human institution is. But existing market institutions have fallen in my estimation from 'good enough, the best we've got' to 'incompetent and hopelessly corrupt' ... accepting muddling as a default position is unsatisfactory. It becomes a means of drifting towards hazards unknown and an excuse for attending to the interests of the powerful. The alternative of bold, flawed, improvisations is also unattractive. The choice between moldy bread and rancid stew is best made on a case-by-case basis...
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