September 17, 2008
What a topsy-turvy few weeks in the news it’s been! Let me mention my highlights:
Federal Government declares it will let Lehman fail to protect the principles of the free market. Rep. Barney Frank declares Sept. 15 Free Market Day. Sept. 16 Federal Government effectively nationalizes AIG. This under a Republican president!
John (Keating Five) McCain, the Republican candidate, lambastes the “greed” of Wall Street and calls for more government regulation. Experience, Oscar Wilde said, is the name so many of us give to our mistakes. Has John learned from his? He did recently say that he knew little about economics. Time to hit those textbooks, John!
Republicans, whiter and richer than ever, have a convention at which they rail against the elite.
Does experience matter? OF COURSE – Palin has none…ooops, it doesn’t REALLY matter!
David Brooks, at sixes and sevens over the nomination of an airhead evangelical for veep practically endorses Obama-Biden. What other conclusion can you draw from his recent column? He just can’t face the facts of it. (Shocked, shocked!!! that Republicans would nominate such a person simply because she assures their rabid base of religious nuts.)
News reports say that the Fed bailout of AIG may actually be quite profitable for the taxpayer, as was the loan bailout of Mexico in the 90s. They charge high interest rates, and they get to call the shots, having dumped the shareholders. Why not do this more often a reporter asks? “That would be socialism…”
June 10, 2008
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 I think those in my previous post on this topic are somewhat out of date.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…”