The GOP "Redistribution of Wealth" Bugaboo

In the U.S. the wealthiest 5% of Americans own nearly 60% of the nation's wealth. The top 20% own around 80% of the nation's wealth.

Although there have always been rich and poor, the distribution of overall wealth has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, with the distribution of wealth becoming increasingly top heavy. If the pattern continues, the middle class will cease to exist; there will just be the rich, and the people who work for the rich at whatever rate the rich feel like providing.

It's happening now:

Across the U.S., companies are freezing raises, freezing new hires, hiring on new employees at lower rates than the laid off employees they're replacing, mandating capped raises that barely match inflation (say, 2% raises per employee, even for good performance), cancelling pension plans, canceling matching 401k payments, breaking unions, lowering commisions, reducing health benefits, and outsourcing jobs to foreign lands -- while at the same time the top executives have seen their salaries increase by hundreds and hundreds of percentage points over the last few decades.

And the big banks are getting bailed out while millions of Americans are losing their homes and jobs. The U.S. government takes out loans from China in order to pay for a war where Halliburton & Co. execs profits but average Americans see no benefits (and, eventually, somebody is going to have to pay for this war -- it's not a question of whether the war was right or wrong, it's a question of when we're going to actually pay back the debt). The oil companies are making record profits while Americans pay more at the pump.

With all of that in mind, you'd think that 80% to 95% of Americans would be up-and-arms, demanding at least moderate redistribution of wealth. Not Harrison Bergeron everyone-must-be-totally-equal territory; but at least some good old fashion American modestly-tax-the-rich leveling of the playing field.

And yet, amazingly, the Republicans have decided to use the "redistribution of wealth" concept as a scare device. Palin recently described Obama's very mildly socialist tendencies thusly: “Obama says that he wants to spread the wealth . . . which is when government takes your hard-earned money [and] doles it out however a poll sees fit.”

Actually, that sounds more like how the GOP has been handling our hard-earned money -- giving tax breaks to profitable coporations and the super-wealthy, paying billions of dollars to various Military-Industrial-Complex contractors.

Obama's tax plan, on the other hand -- despite what you might think after hearing some of the more "controversial" O-man quotes trumpeted by the GOP -- essentially just calls for a repeal of the pro-rich Bush tax cuts on those making over $250,000 a year, while closing some corporate tax breaks and introducing new tax breaks for the middle class and the poor. Even if you are rich, these changes to the tax code are not going to dramatically effect your lifestyle; just get used to paying the same kind of taxes that you had no trouble paying 10 years ago. No big deal; it's not even that revolutionary, just a modest and fair adjustment to the current tax code..

Still, realistically, more taxes are going to be needed at some point -- to pay off the war debt, to pay off the debt from the financial bailout, to pay for new infrastructure to keep our roads and bridges and railways and energy system from falling into pieces. Nobody likes to pay more taxes; but, then again, nobody likes paying down their credit card debt, either. However, it has to be done. Modestly taxing the richest 5% of Americans isn't a bad way to start; an oil windfall-profits tax wouldn't be a bad idea either (note that even Partisan-Tactics Palin supported a windfall-profits tax scheme in Alaska).

Bush and his neoconservative pals have nearly destroyed the world economy; McMaverick is more of the same. It's time to give some new folks a shot. Vote Democrat or Independent.

(Or, discover that "Jesus was among the wealthiest 5 percent.")

And just for fun, turn up the volume on your computer and then click around

Oh, and here's a very funny "Miss Sarah Piggy Palin" music video (recommended by BuckyBurro):


Anonymous said...

To those Republicans who are scared that Obama is a "Communist" that's out to destroy America:

- Mildly increasing taxes on the rich and adding a few regulations and social programs to help the poor and stabilize the middle-class (keeping the U.S. from becoming a nation of just the super-rich and the poor, which is what current trends point toward) is not right out of the Communist Manifesto, which would call for the complete overthrow of the rich.

- Communism fails with it’s overkill (total equality and shared ownership) and it’s weakness for totalitarianism; but democracy-based socialist-leaning government programs have worked out perfectly fine in countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. – democratic Commonwealth nations with similar lineages and moral backgrounds to the U.S. that manage to balance pure capitalism with level-headed social-welfare initiatives, universal healthcare, union support (fair wages), and the occasional slap at monopolistic practices without dramatically hindering business growth.

- And, look, realistically, outside of the election-time histrionics that prompt people to imply otherwise, the fact is that even if the Dems raise taxes for everyone – not just a slight increase to those making over $250,000/year as promised – the most we’ll be looking at is a minor tax bump, a few percentage points, not the end of the world.

- And, again, someone has to pay for the war and the financial bailouts. Cutting back on pork-barrel spending (e.g., state infrastructure projects) is not enough; at some point we have to pay the piper, and that’s going to mean taxes. The Bush dream of dumping millions into the war without raising our taxes can only be sustained for so long. Raises taxes during wartime is sensible; putting ourselves into deep debt with the totalitarian-communist Chinese government is not. So Obama will likely get stuck being the tax-man bad guy in order to balance our books; and then a Republican can come in and lower taxes and start racking up debt again.

Bush Sr. = Bad Economy

Clinton = Good Economy

Bush Jr. = Terrible Economy, historic debt

Obama = 4 years of fixing Bush's terrible economy + 4 years of great economic times

Then you can elect Palin in 2016 and she can destroy the economy and start the cycle over again.

This Sisyphus-like practice is the American way. Tiresome, but probably healthy as it adds counterbalance, with each party balancing out the other party's excesses.

But the GOP scare-tactic of making people fear that Obama is going to turn the U.S. into a Communist state is absurd; clearly the U.S. government doesn’t work that way (if it did, then we’d also have to worry about the extreme-left’s claim that Bush is planning to stage a terrorist attack and declare martial law so he can make himself president for life).

A great article about McCain:

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, since I'm viewing things from my Arugula-and-Sushi-Eating NYC Liberal
Media Elitist Hilltop, perhaps I should let Republican Larry Hunter make the argument for me, in regards to why conservatives should vote for Obama:

"I'm a lifelong Republican - a supply-side conservative. I worked in the Reagan White House. I was the chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for five years. In 1994, I helped write the Republican Contract with America. I served on Bob Dole's presidential campaign team and was chief economist for Jack Kemp's Empower America. This November, I'm voting for Barack Obama. When I first made this decision, many colleagues were shocked. . . . "

For the full article, see:

Also of interest:

And in regards to other points currently being made by anti-Democrat types:

- If we want to give Reagan and Bush Sr. some credit for setting up
fundamentals that helped the economic boom time of the Clinton years, that's fine. But it's inarguable that the Bush Jr. years have resulted in massive debt and economic turmoil. One look at the state of the stock market and the 401k accounts of employees from across the U.S. brings this financial instability home on a personal level for millions of hard-working Americans.

- It's hard to blame the current Democrat-controlled Congress for not getting much done, considering they've only held power for two years, they've only had a very slim majority, and they're up against a destructive Executive Branch. If the Dems gain a filibuster-proof majority on Nov. 4 and a Democrat in the Executive Office and are still unable to get things done over the next couple of years, then we can lay blame at their feet.

- Despite fear-mongering to the contrary, the Alternative Income Tax will be adjusted for inflation so as not to affect the middle class. That's part of Obama's tax plan.

- If Obama turns out to be another FDR, I'd consider that to be a good thing. I don't get how the far-right is managing to use FDR as a socialist bogeyman.

- Combined state, local, and federal taxes do amount in more $$ in government rev than what the gas companies make in pure profit on every gallon of gas sold (combined state/local/federal taxes amount to nearly 50 cents per gallon of $4/gallon gas), but this does not always take into account the other steps in the oil-production process where oil profits are being made or the fact that state and local taxes vary wildly per state (while the federal gas tax is only around 18 cents per gallon). Perhaps we should feel sorry for the gas companies that are raking in record profits (tens of billions of dollars); whether or not a windfall-profits tax is a good idea is open to debate. But Obama is not the only proponent -- Palin implemented some very brave oil-tax increases herself, and sent every Alaskan citizen a check for $3,269. Did it scare the oil companies away? Nope, they kept drilling; 'cause they're still making plenty of money despite the taxes. A communist
system would nationalize the oil companies; If Palin was progressive
like this on a national level instead of just supporting Alaskans, she might even get my vote (well, not likely, but it would make her seem more favorable).


- Although some blame can be laid on the Democrats as well, McCain and
the GOP are not entirely clean on the Fannie and Freddie Mac issues. "
Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse. . . . Freddie Mac's payments to DCI began shortly after the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee sent Hagel's bill to the then GOP-run Senate on July 28, 2005 . . . In the midst of DCI's yearlong effort, Hagel and 25
other Republican senators pleaded unsuccessfully with Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to allow a vote. . . McCain's campaign
manager, Rick Davis, or his lobbying firm has taken more than $2 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dating to 2000. In December, Freddie Mac contributed $250,000 to last month's GOP convention. . . Before 2004,
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were Democratic strongholds. After 2004,
Republicans ran their political operations. McLoughlin, who joined
Freddie Mac in 2004 as chief of staff, has given $32,250 to Republican candidates over the years, including $2,800 to McCain, and has given none to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics."

(Source: )

- Obama on the economy, in his own words -- what he really "really
thinks" (as opposed to what some Right Wingers have been trying to tell us):

On kick-starting the economy:

"Finding the new driver of our economy is going to be critical. There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office, assuming obviously that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation. We've got a boat with a lot of leaks, and we need to get it into port. That's what the financial rescue package is about. But once we get it into port, once the credit markets are functioning effectively, then it's time for us to go back to the fundamentals of this economy."

On "Joe the Plumber" and the redistribution of wealth:

"The point I was making was twofold. Number one, I want to give you a tax cut sooner so you can save sooner to start your business sooner, because the average plumber starting off sure isn't making $250,000 a year. And the second thing is, plumbers, like everybody else, need customers. And if everybody's broke, you're not going to be able to build your business ... It's a simple principle that we've lost, which is that when everybody's sharing in our prosperity, everybody wins."



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