I Am Entitled

December 20, 2012

newwileyTime to revisit that “fiscal cliff” that everyone is blathering about.  Let’s get some clarity, and take a look at the data, the actual facts of income distribution in the USA.

The chart below, from the US Census Bureau, lays it all out.  It’s not a graph that you see much in the news, and certainly not one that politicians use:  I’m not sure which is the more significant reason for this – that they don’t want people to see the facts; that they are incapable of understanding data charts; or that they assume the public is incapable.  Well, here goes…

US income distribution 2010

click to enlarge

As you can see, the Median Household Income is about $49,500.  That’s household income, not individual income, and the average household is about four people.  You know, parents, children, the usual deal, more or less…

So half of all households in America make less than that amount, with quite a lot of people concentrated in the bottom 1/5th of the income scale.  Of course, not everyone lives in NYC where housing is extremely expensive, but most people do live in metropolitan areas, and would you want to live with your family on $49K a year, or less…assuming that you don’t live on that now?

Sooo, in the negotiations over the ‘cliff’, the Republicans are holding out to keep taxes low for people making up to $1,000,000.  Those millionaires can’t afford more annual taxes!  Obama, because he’s a sap in negotiations, or maybe for reasons even worse to contemplate, gave in, and has proposed to raise the limit from $250,000, on which he campaigned, to $400,000.  Everyone making up to $400,000 gets a tax break again.

Meanwhile, he’s caving in on entitlements, i.e. payments to people through programs they pay into under specified ‘agreements’ worked out in Congress.  No freeloaders here:  you join the system and you get a described benefit.  These payouts benefit everyone who works, but they are obviously vastly more important for the people in the bottom 3/5ths of the scale than for the other 40%.

So here’s the thing…The negotiations are about giving a benefit to the top 2%, that grey bar on the right that represents everyone making over $250K (the chart isn’t wide enough to show each increment, so they lump them together), and cutting back on benefits to everyone else And the vast majority of the people who need those benefits being cut, really need them, to…er…live, you know…


Romney gets it right!

February 4, 2012

Well, sort of.  I was pleased to read this recent statement by the great white hope of the Republicans, my emphasis:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America — the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

As Charles M. Blow of the Times notes, he went on to say that his campaign was focused on “middle-income Americans” and that “we have a very ample safety net” for the poor.

Wow!  Confirmation from the lead Republican candidate for my historical-sociological analysis of the American way of ‘middle-class!’  Maybe Romney is reading my blog!

See this post:  Who Rules America?


Class Warfare

December 9, 2010

Click on the comic above to see it full size – it’s more true than funny.  Since Reagan, the Republicans have been leading an effort to shift wealth to the upper 2% of the income strata in the USA, and to shift the burden of paying for that shift, and the rest of what government does, to everyone else.  Naturally, the “middle class” gets hit the worst because they have jobs and steady incomes from which to pay taxes.  (I use that term in the good ole American sense of anyone making less than $250,000 a year.) 

Bad as it is, there is a humorous side to it.  How else to react to the twin efforts by the Republicans this week to deny health coverage to the 9/11 rescue workers – they are concerned about how to pay for the $7.4 billion – and to lock in the GWB tax cuts for the wealthy for another two years, not to mention the loosening of the estate tax.  The cost of the first tax item alone is about $900.0 billion.  Balanced budget anyone?

And why are we at this juncture?   Our president tells us that liberals don’t have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished.  This may be true – the game was lost a long time ago, before the 2010 election.  Why wasn’t Obama on the warpath about these topics for the last two years?  All that anger in the Tea Party and fellow travellers could just as easily have switched targets from him to the bankers and coupon-clippers.

I think that fundamentally Obama, and most Dem legislators, don’t grasp the concepts of power and class.  It’s quite simple:  people with lots of money and power want to keep it.  They don’t really care if social problems are solved or not as long as their status isn’t infringed.  They may back irrational policies, but that’s okay.  If the works get gummed up, so much the better.  The more stupid government looks, the better.  They can always lobby their senators for a free corporate plum later, and in secret.  The Party of No works just fine in this case.  They can rail against government spending while they shovel money to their friends and not be troubled by the contradiction – there is no contradiction.  The overall goal is being met.

This sort of talk is taboo in mainstream American political discourse, so it’s not surprising Obama doesn’t shout about it.  Sure, he talks about “special interests”, but Unions get lumped in that group.  Senior citizens too.  As if they are all equal.  Obama always said he wasn’t a liberal, and he was being honest.  He’s very mainstream.  He never sought to build a political base for a counter-assault to the Republican class war which is why it’s too late now.  That would have been “business as usual in Washington…”


Electioneering Food for Thought

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…”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers