There are days when I get so angry with the current state of the economy, with people like Steve Moore whom Paddy over at the Political Carnival linked to earlier advocating increased taxes on the poor - the lack of readily available and decent paying jobs that have helped to shrink the middle-class over the past 30 years or so - that I sometimes joke on my radio program that I'm looking forward to a time when "Eat the rich," is no longer a bit of graffiti scrawled on a wall but a menu option. I'm gonna' sit down and order me one extra-large republican braised over a spit for two or three days in a tangy lemon-ginger sauce. I'm only kidding of course - not really all that fond of lemon-ginger. I prefer garlic sweet and sour.
It's not just a tale of out of control greed on the part of the wealthy though. It's also a story about missed opportunities and complacency on all our parts: Big, profitable companies could have been barred from laying off a large number of workers all at once, and could have been required to pay severance—say, a year of wages—to anyone they let go. Corporations whose research was subsidized by taxpayers could have been required to create jobs in the United States. The minimum wage could have been linked to inflation. America's trading partners, he points out, also could have been coerced to take similar actions and that, at the very least, would have prevented the massive outsourcing we have all been witness to.
Governments we have elected have deregulated industries and privatized everything in sight - under the auspices of the free market does everything better - and that has left us all increasingly vulnerable to the vagaries and whims of corporations. The cost of public higher education has been increased. Safety nets have been shredded. Tax rates for the wealthy of 70–90 percent that existed during the 1950s and '60s have dropped to 28–40 percent - with the attendant loss in government revenues. The nation's wealthy get to treat their income as capital gains subject to no more than 15 percent tax and escape inheritance taxes altogether. America also boosted sales and payroll taxes, both of which have taken a bigger chunk out of the pay of the middle class and the poor than of the rich.
He concludes with some dire warnings about the direction the current state of rancorous politics could lead to and notes that, None of us can thrive in a nation divided between a small number of people receiving an ever larger share of the nation's income and wealth, and everyone else receiving a declining share. The lopsidedness not only diminishes economic growth but also tears at the social fabric of our society.
Interview With Environmental Artist Franke James (part the 2nd) - Here's the second part of my freewheeling interview with environmental artist and activist Franke James. We discuss the pro-active philosophy that guides...