Some new statistics on the distribution of wealth in the USA. I think those in my previous post on this topic are somewhat out of date. As Lester Thurow pointed out years ago, 40% of the non-residential wealth (i.e., not your home values) is controlled by about 400 people and families in our democracy. Lately, there has been a lot of huffing and puffing about the estate tax, known to Republican killjoys as the Death Tax.
Right now, the estate tax is on a downward path to zero, and then after 2010, it’s supposed to go back up to its original level. This creates a rather queer situation for those deciding when they should kick off. Aside from that, the idea that the estate tax is something that ordinary people have to be upset about is one of the more remarkable successes of Republican political propaganda.
In 2006, about 23,000 tax returns kicked in the estate tax. The top 5% of those estates held 40% of the wealth taxed. (Forget about what wasn’t taxed!) In other words, a restored estate tax would fall most heavily on those with more than $20 million. That’s the target of the policy, not the small estate holders near the threshold of $1.5 million. But no – give the feds a chance, and they’ll go after that fat middle, the $2-$5 million estates that comprise nearly 60% of all taxable estates, but hold only 30% of the value. Yes, that’s the conservative line. We must protect the rights of the SUPER rich because WE will be next. An interesting twist on an old idea…
Of course John Lennon had a nice twist on another old idea: “You’re all fuckin’ peasants anyway…”