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Forum Post: Class Inequality ~ Class War on the Quiet Conceptual Front

Posted 5 years ago on Feb. 5, 2013, 10:34 p.m. EST by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Class Is a Five-Letter Dirty Word: The Lack of Class Consciousness in an Era of Record Inequality ~ the Conceptual Front

Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00 | By Anthony DiMaggio, Truthout |

Class Inequality: Until Americans' awareness catches up to the realities of the increasing US class divide, shrinking life opportunities for the majority and disappearance of social mobility, we will be unable to address the problems of high unemployment and economic stagnation.

It's no secret that inequality today is at its highest level since 1929. Countless commentators lament record high inequality as a danger to our society and to American prosperity - a point that even establishment papers like The New York Times are now acknowledging. In an October 2012 story, for example, the paper warned that " income inequality may take [a] toll on growth," and reported that " a growing body of economic research suggests that it might mean lower levels of economic growth and slower job creation in the years ahead."

Political scientists are focusing attention on the dangers of growing economic inequality as a threat to political participation. As income and wealth inequality increase, Americans are forced to work longer and longer hours to make ends meet. This leaves less time to pay attention to the news and the world around us, and it means that the poor and working class are less likely to follow politics, and less inclined to participate in basic civic obligations like voting. As political scientist Frederick Solt points out, it's no coincidence the United States has the highest levels of economic inequality in the first world, and the lowest level of political participation.1

(By Anthony DiMaggio and the Public Intellectual Project)

It's not difficult to understand the concerns of those who study this issue closely. Income inequality is at its greatest level since The Great Depression, with the top one percent of Americans capturing an astounding 93 percent of all annual income gains in the post-2008 era. This represents a dramatic acceleration of an already extreme trend from the 1980s through the 2000s, when the top one percent captured one-sixth of all income created, and the top 10 percent captured approximately one half of created wealth.

More than 30 years of extreme inequality in earnings have produced similar extremes concerning the concentration of wealth. Recent statistics suggest the top one percent of Americans hold 34.5 percent of all wealth. The top 10 percent hold 74.5 percent of all wealth, and the top 20 percent (one in five Americans) hold about 85 percent.2

Estimates for the rest of America are quite sobering as well: In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the bottom 40 percent of Americans are estimated to have zero percent of all wealth, while the bottom half hold a miniscule 1.1 percent.3

The dire state of income and wealth inequality has to do with more than simply earnings; It is also related to hidden taxes and costs that exist all around us. The Bush tax cuts account for much of the growth in inequality, as they were disproportionately directed at the wealthiest Americans. Research from the Economic Policy Institute suggests that by 2010, 38 percent of the Bush tax cuts were going to the richest one percent of Americans, while 55 percent were directed toward the richest 10 percent. This amounted to a massive subsidy for the wealthy (the 10 percent who make more than $170,000 a year), and to a disproportionate shouldering of the tax burden (compared to previous tax rates) for those who were not so lucky to get these large cuts.

Other hidden taxes take a major toll on the working and middle class too. The cost of food is a common complaint in that US food costs were exacerbated by extreme heat and weather events that resulted in double-digit growth in the cost of corn in the United States in 2012, amid the worst drought in more than a half-century.

Other mounting costs also operate as a tax on Americans; for instance, the escalating cost of higher education and health care. As The New York Times reported in October 2012, "In the last school year, tuition, fees, room and board averaged $38,589 at private colleges, up almost $15,000 from a decade earlier, according to the College Board. At public four-year colleges, the total bill came to $17,131, up more than $8,000."

Estimates of the cost of education vary by a wide margin, but all available figures suggest the cost has increased dramatically. Lower estimates suggest the cost of tuition at a four-year college or university, after controlling for inflation, increased by nearly 150 percent during the period from 1980 to 2011, while other estimates suggest a growth of tuition costs by more than 100 percent from 2000 to 2011 alone.(4) Similarly, available data suggests health care costs have grown radically, with one estimate suggesting a 700 percent increase in costs for private plans from 1969 to 2010.

The growth in cost of living and inequality is also a function of depressed wages. The United States lost roughly half of its manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2010. These were high-paying jobs with strong union-based benefits that used to constitute the backbone of middle-class America. The assault on labor means that, while nearly one-third of Americans used to be a part of a labor union in 1945, that number fell to just over 10 percent by the late 2000s. As unions disappeared, so did the middle classe's share of income earned. Data from the US Census Bureau suggests that from the late 1960s to the late 2000s, there was a nearly one-to-one correlation between the decline in the percent of unionized Americans, and the decline in the share of all income that goes to the American middle class. Predictably, the share of income captured by the top one percent went up correspondingly during this period, as corporations dismantled domestic unions and the wage and benefit protections that accompanied them.5

Sadly, Americans are working longer and longer hours in the era of growing inequality. Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests that the number of hours worked by married couples increased by about 20 percent from the early 1970s through the 2000s, despite the finding that the median family income stagnated, and despite a significant increase in labor productivity and corporate profits.6 These trends suggest that Americans' position has not stagnated; rather, most are in a much worse situation today because of growing health care, food and education costs, increased inequality, stagnating wages and increased work hours.

With the dramatic decline in the economic fortunes of most Americans, one would think that awareness of the growing class divide in the United States would be as pronounced as ever. Sadly, this is not the case. On one level, recognition of inequality and elite power is fairly high among Americans. For example, a December 2012 Pew Research Center poll found that 76 percent of Americans felt that "it's really true that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer." Similarly, a Pew survey from January 2012 revealed that 77 percent agreed "there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the United States."

Results from the General Social Survey found that concern for inequality is longstanding, with approximately two-thirds of Americans regularly agreeing that "differences in income in America are too large" across the decade of the 2000s.

And yet, despite these findings, evidence suggests that Americans - while they are concerned about wealth inequality - are not sufficiently aware of the fundamental divide that exists within the American economic class system. Americans are concerned with growing inequality and with excessive corporate power, but they aren't aware of just how extreme the American wealth divide has become. This point was made clear in a 2011 Duke-Harvard study, which found that perceptions of inequality were far less extreme than actual inequality.

Surveying a nationally-representative sample of respondents, the study found that Americans thought that the wealthiest 20 percent retained 59 percent of all wealth, when in reality they held more like 84 percent (a 25 percentage point difference). Differences between perceptions and reality became even more extreme when comparing what Americans wanted the wealth distribution to look like, in contrast to what it looks like. Respondents said that the "ideal" wealth breakdown would allow the richest 20 percent just 32 percent of all wealth, compared to their actual 84 percent (an astounding 52 percentage point difference).

The above data suggest that Americans are not as aware of the chasm between haves and have-nots as they should be. If half of Americans share just 1.1 percent of all wealth, one would hope that most Americans would recognize this basic fact, as well as the reality that our country is increasingly divided between the haves (those who report some form of financial wealth) and the have-nots (those with zero financial wealth). Unfortunately, this is not the case for a strong majority of Americans. As of December 2011 (the last time the question was surveyed), the Pew Research Center found that nearly six in ten Americans (58 percent) rejected the idea that American society is " divided into two groups, the haves and the have-nots."

This finding seems all the more strange considering that just 46 percent of Americans categorized themselves as " haves," and nearly four in ten (38 percent) designated themselves as "have-nots" - strongly overlapping with the recent finding that 40 percent of Americans hold no financial wealth.

CONTINUED: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/14205-class-is-a-five-letter-dirty-word-the-lack-of-class-consciousness-in-an-era-of-record-inequality



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[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Good stuff.

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

This issue is at the center of the struggle we (the 99%) face. Income inequity is a self destructive element of American capitalism that continues unabated.

OWS was formed for this reason, and we will continue fighting until there is real change.

Thanks for this great post to remind us. Let's keep this post high on the forum, by finding and adding related/current news, events, opinions, & solutions.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

That's my intent, participation! The Inequality Front, the Employment Front, and so on in the Class War we are losing because we don't pay attention!!!!

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Here is some progressive goals that would directly improve the 99% income inequity.

Fighting for Economic Justice and Security in the U.S. and Global Economies

» To uphold the right to universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

» To preserve guaranteed Social Security benefits for all Americans, protect private pensions, and require corporate accountability.

» To invest in America and create new jobs in the U.S. by building more affordable housing, re-building America’s schools and physical infrastructure, cleaning up our environment, and improving homeland security.

» To export more American products and not more American jobs and demand fair trade.

» To reaffirm freedom of association and enforce the right to organize.

» To ensure working families can live above the poverty line and with dignity by raising and indexing the minimum wage.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Excellent goals, but let's improve EQUALITY! Let's progress.

Here are a few more:

Remove the FICA cap

Tax the rich and corporate with steeper progressive rates

Outlaw offshoring jobs and tax-havening funds

Reinstate Clinton OSHA Rules and enforce them

Institute Living Wage and Maximum Wage

Reform and reinstate a Fairness Doctrine in broadcast media and outlaw propaganda posing as news, and RW Hate & Lie radio

Break up Radio Monopolies, Re-Regulate and Enforce Fair Broadcasting Laws

Institute the Employee Free Choice Act

Institute FDR's Second Bill of Rights

Legalize, tax and regulate Pot, release and absolve all convictions

Overhaul, De-Privatize, the entire Penal System

Expand the Affordable Care Act (Obama-Cares) to Medicare for All

Abolish Congressional Obstruction

Ban Corporate and/or Big$ Influence in Our Government

Institute Instant Runoff Voting

Abolish District Gerrymandering

Institute Anti-Deception, Truth in Campaigning legislation

Overhaul and expand public access to and services from the legal system, including Family Law, and provide court appointed attorneys

Conduct televised Congressional Hearings on the Bush/Cheney~911/Enron/Wall Street Scandals

More and endlessly more...

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

Institute Anti-Deception, Truth in Campaigning legislation

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

I'm open to more streamlined suggestions, that was off the top of my head.

Where have you been, any who?

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

2 of my piers up and died

the election showed no move towards enlightenment

i'm burnt out

i need a job


[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

Try contacting Ricoh, they recently bought Pentax Camera and are looking to expand it's lens lineup.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

Sad isn't it?

It hasn't changed a bit.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

They need to be reminded, held accountable and asked to respond. The influence of humiliation in the town square should be reintroduced. Perhaps some internet version can be employed.

Might change some behavior, opinions, or support.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

How about a call to repeal ALL ALEC written legislation?

It would be a start anyway.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

That would be a big start. Obviously I support it. So far we have seen continued corps and pols pull ALEC support. That must continue, but I think we are ready for the next step of agitating for repeal of ALL ALEC laws.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago


I found nothing in the job opening to match optics

but that's an interesting point

seems they would be looking optics

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

Lens design would seem to be a good place to look for your area of expertize.

You may need to brush up on your Asian language skills though.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

my area of expertize is writing and expanding ideas

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

You might need to expand that expertize, just a bit.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

it will never be enough

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Sorry to hear that, TWO!

[-] -2 points by auargent (-600) 5 years ago

piers? or peers?

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

I'm good with all that.

[-] 4 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

"Fairness Doctrine" is a problem, it carries an unwarranted stigma. Need to come up with a better term for fixing our RW infected media. Anything?

[-] 5 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Best thing we can do to minimize estremists in the media is reinstate the fairness doctrine that once removed in the 80's encouraged/created the talk radio disease.

So I'm not sure what stigma you refer to but we MUST get that reinstated.

In addition we must break up the massive media conglomerates as much as we must break up the banking conglomerates.

Finally we must encourage, and somehow legitimize independent citizen journalists who use the internet for instance.

My best effort dude.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

And a very good one!

Well the Fairness Doctrine was pretty narrow and vague so broadcasters played fast and loose with it. There was an "Equal Time" requirement, so they would do there normal thing and then bring in some complete screwball to present the other side. It was a joke!

Imagine an hour of Rush, and then 5 minutes of Ross Perot! That's how random it was. And it gave the whole "FD" name a bad taste. Call and ask a radio talk show host and see.

Action on the Big Guns, like banks, will require a majority consensus. Right now, we have a majority disengaged (Lowest turnout on earth!). Hopefully real news and information would change that.

YES!!! Independent journalists need access and inclusion in the News Media world. Legitimacy and good wages!!! News Media are sealed from outsiders and rouge (non corporate) journalists. I speak from experience.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Whatever problems existed with FD should be addressed. So reinstate a real FD regimen.

Break up the media conglomerates. That is critical (I mentioned banks as an example of importance only)

Forbid ads in the news? What about that concept ?

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

New FD: Yes, what do we call it?? My first question. How does it work so that the creeps on the Reich don't scream censorship?

The Revenue cherry was busted in '69 with 60 Minutes, and it ain't growing back. Need some creative framing for commercial free news! Even PBS has commercials now.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

"Equal Access". "All Views" "Counterpoint" (Jane, you ignorant slut! lol)

And what about prosecuting blatant lies? Is there no way to do that?

I can't agree with giving up getting profits out of news. Some effort must be made.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

(out of reply tabs below)

That's why they came up with democracy, now it's up to us to use it.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

We must identify the worse pols. Denounce them, kick em out. Elect pro 99% pols.

Money out of politics

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Ignorant sluts, lies and profits, a lot of effort was made.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

More effort is required, if economic inequity is to be corrected, we must keep pushing, keep pressuring government and corps.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Obama's Biggest Challenge: Inequality

Bob Burnett | Posted: 02/08/2013 11:11 am

As President Obama begins his second term, he's not lacking for challenges, such as jobs, immigration and gun control, not to mention Afghanistan and Iran. Meanwhile, recalcitrant Republicans contest every move the president makes. But Obama's biggest challenge, economic inequality, gets little attention from many politicians.

To his credit, the president continues to decry inequality. In his second inaugural address, Obama said, "[Americans] understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class."

The president and most Democrats recognize the gap between the rich and poor is now as large as at any time in the last one hundred years. In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office found that between 1979 and 2007, "After-tax income for the highest-income households grew more than it did for any other group... 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households, 65 percent for the next 19 percent, just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent."

Remarkably, Republicans don't seem concerned about the growing economic divide. Many conservatives, such as Arthur Okun, believe inequality is the price America pays for an efficient economy. They argue we shouldn't worry about inequality so long as there continues to be social mobility and the economy performs well. But the last twenty years has seen a dramatic decrease in mobility and a marked increase in economic instability.

In October, Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel published a paper detailing the decline in U.S. social mobility:

CONTINUED: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-burnett/obama-economic-inequality_b_2645464.html

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Correcting economic inequity is most difficult because TPTB and their political puppets have great power.

It is up to us. Protests, petitions, letter writing, phone calls, demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, pressure, and agitate, agitate, agitate for higher wages, ending outsourcing, strengthening unions.

The power of the people is greater than the people in power.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

And Voting!

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Yes voting of course. And I would add coalition building.

The most important thing happening (which adds to all these tactics) is the center left coalition that has been given new life.

Progressivism is reborn! Many groups are more active than ever before. If we are to succeed at improving the lives of the working/middle class we must continue the work of building this critical coalition.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Love the enthusiasm, but keep your eyes and ears open, rebirth is strong and sometimes blinding. If it is reborn, it needs diapers, a wet nurse and several rich godfathers!

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Agreed. Much work remains. Much risk of failure still surrounds us. But we are waking up and speaking out.

We've only just begun.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

OK, keep it rolling. It's 99% momentum that wins the day for the 99%.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

yeah. Rolling, rolling, rolling

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Leave them trollers troll'n

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

They Liiiiiiiiiied!!

[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Brought to you by Koch Bros.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Koch addicts are everywhere. But the times thay are achangin'

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Since the current wacko libertarian Koch Bros used to be the wacko libertarian John Birch Society, yeah... "changin'."

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

They are on the run. That's the change I'm watching

Repubs civil war.



[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Noam Chomsky: Global Democratic Uprisings and New Challenges to US Empire

Friday, 08 February 2013 00:00 By Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Metropolitan Books | Book Excerpt


As the US engages in military and intelligence overreach to try and preserve its role as the sole post-cold war empire, Noam Chomsky continues to offer trenchant analysis of how American hegemony is a self-destructive force to the nation – and at times a lethal world police force to maintain its position of privileged consumption.

In his latest book, Power Systems, Chomsky reflects on outbreaks of democracy in the world and a declining ability of the United States to control nation-states who are important economic markets, energy suppliers, and geo-political allies that are vital to the US empire.

Excerpted from Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire by Noam Chomsky in interviews with David Barsamian. The following section is from the first chapter, "The New American Imperialism." It begins with Barsamian reflecting on a talk given by Arundhati Roy that he and Chomsky attended.

Barsamian: We were both at a talk that Arundhati Roy gave at Harvard describing the rather extraordinary amount of resistance to neo-liberal policies in India. There is a tremendous amount of push-back. I wrote to Howard Zinn about her talk. He wrote back to me, in one of the last e-mails I received from him, "Compared to India, the United States seems like a desert."

Noam Chomsky: It wasn't at one time. If you go back to the nineteenth century, the indigenous population of the United States resisted. In this respect, the United States is a desert because we exterminated the native people. The United States won that war. By the end of the nineteenth century, the indigenous people were essentially gone. India is now in the stage the United States was in during the nineteenth century.

Barsamian: I'm thinking more of workers here who have lost their jobs, who have lost their pensions and benefits. At a talk you gave in Portland, Oregon, called "When Elites Fail," you decried the fact that the Left has not been able to mobilize dissent. The Right has certainly been able to.

Noam Chomsky: That's true. But I don't think India is a good comparison. Earlier periods in U.S. history are a better comparison. Take, say, the 1930s. The Depression hit in 1929. About five years later, you started getting real militant labor organizing, the forming of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, sit-down strikes. That's what basically impelled Roosevelt to carry out the New Deal reforms. That hasn't happened in the current economic crisis. Remember the 1920s were a period when labor was almost completely crushed. One of the leading labor historians in the United States, David Montgomery, has a book called The Fall of the House of Labor. The rise of the house of labor was from the nineteenth-century militants on through the early-twentieth-century labor agitation that was crushed by Woodrow Wilson, who was as brutal internally as he was externally. The Red Scare almost decimated the workers' movement. That was the 1920s. There was a change in the 1930s, in the course of the Depression. But it took quite a few years. And the Depression was much worse than the current recession. This is bad enough, but that was much worse.

And then there were other factors. For example, we're not supposed to say it, but the Communist Party was an organized and persistent element. It didn't show up for a demonstration and then scatter so somebody else then had to start something else. It was always there—and it was in for the long haul. That's not the type of organization we have now. And the Communist Party was in the forefront of civil rights struggles, which were very significant in the 1930s, as well as labor organizing, union struggles, union militancy. They were a spark, which is lacking now.

Barsamian: Why is it lacking?

Noam Chomsky: First of all, the Communist Party was totally crushed. In fact, the activist Left was crushed under President Harry S. Truman. What we call McCarthyism was actually started by Truman. The unions did grow in size, but they grew as collaborationist unions. That's one of the reasons why, say, Canada, a very similar country, has a health care system and we don't. In Canada, the unions struggled for health care for the country. In the United States, they struggled for health care for themselves. So if you're an autoworker here in the United States, you had a pretty good health care and pension system. Union workers won health care for themselves in a compact with the corporations. They thought it was a deal. What they couldn't see was that it's a suicide pact. If the corporation decides the compact is over, then it's over. Meanwhile, the rest of the country didn't get health care. So now the United States has a completely dysfunctional health care system, while Canada has one that more or less works. That's a reflection of different cultural values and institutional structures in two very similar countries. So yes, the working class did continue to develop and grow here, but with class collaboration, that is, in a compact with the corporations.

You may recall in 1979, Doug Fraser, who was the head of the United Auto Workers, gave a speech in which he lamented the fact that business was engaged in what he called "a one-sided class war" against working people. We thought we were all cooperating. That was pretty dumb. Business is always engaged in a one-sided class war, especially in the United States, which has a very class-conscious business community. They're always militantly struggling to get rid of any interference with their domination and control. The labor unions went along with it. They benefited their own workers temporarily. Now they're paying the penalty.

Published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company. Copyright © 2012 by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian. Not to be reprinted without permission.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 4 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

If it takes a linguistics professor to communicate to people so be it.

It's Class War, we're losing, WTFU!

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

we're playing by money rules

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Passing tax fairness act can improve the class inequality. Support Bernie Sanders proposal.


[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

Sanders’ bill and a companion measure to be introduced in the House by Rep. Jan Schakowsky would yield more than $590 billion in revenue over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

+$59 billion a year

2012 deficit (budget shortfall) $1,327 billion

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

The estimated annual budget deficit for 2013 is about $800B. In any event here is a list of a current proposal that would improve economic inequity and address the so called "deficit crises"

Replace Sequester with Revenue:

• 28 Percent Limitation on Certain Deductions and Exclusions ($482B)

• Close Carried Interest Loophole ($17B)

• Close Loopholes for Jets and Yachts ($4B)

• Close International Tax System Loopholes ($161B)

• End Fossil Fuel Subsidies ($94B)

• Close Exclusion of Foreign-Earned Income Loophole ($71B)

• Close Corporate Deductions for Stock Options Loophole ($25B)

• Close Estate Tax Loopholes ($23B)

• Close S Corporation Loophole ($13B)

• Reduce Corporate Meal and Entertainment Deduction to 25% ($70B)

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

• 28 Percent Limitation on Certain Deductions and Exclusions ($482B)

people are getting more than 28% exemption on theoir income for deductions

that's surprising

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Well there it is. Seems like the wealthy should not benefit so much. I support these ideas.

Do you?

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

yes, I support this plan

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Right. It's a good start. It ain't my plan and it is unlikely to pass but some people ARE pushing things in the right direction.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

what's your name?

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

I prefer to keep personal info private if it is all the same to you. It isn't related to the issue is it?

It's ok if you don't support raising taxes on the wealthy. You're not the only one. I do. They must PAY for what they've done.!!

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

One should say one supports something without a name

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Sounds very wise. Or at least meant to be wise.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Big $ paid attention, while we dropped the ball.

Those who show up and play, make the rules!

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

Big money started with the money

they always had the ball

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

they bought the ball, but we forfeited the game

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

the ball was handed to them by the federal reserved

that loaned them money at a low interest

which the private banks turned around and loaned that money 10 times

to everyone else at higher interest

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

and then we forfeited the game

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Our growing income inequality causes 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall

2/5/2013 10:00am by Gaius Publius

Upward redistribution of income — what we’ve been calling the “looting of the economy” by the billionaire CEO class — is responsible for at least 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall for the next 75 years.

Let that sink in. This is yet another way that the looters want the victims to pay for their victimhood and hold the looters lossless. The CEO class has worked for three decades to create an economy where working people have a far less share of the economic growth than they used to have. One of the results of that inequity was an unexpected shortfall in the income collected by Social Security.

Think about it — everyone could see that the big demographic shift, the baby-boom generation, would show up on schedule. They could see that in the 1950s. But who knew 30 years ago (1983, if you’re not subtracting quickly), when the last Social Security adjustment occurred, that Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama would create a bipartisan consensus around handing all the fruits of productivity to the “rich and famous” set that you’re not a part of? That was not part of the calculation in those golden Reagan Days, and the Social Security Trust Fund has suffered ever since. What changed that they didn’t take into account?

As I said, they saw the baby-boomers coming from 10 miles away (or 50, if each mile is a year). The single item they didn’t account for was the increasingly-lower percent of income captured by the Social Security salary tax. In 1983, the year of the Greenspan commission, that share of income was 90%. Dean Baker, the source of this information (my emphasis):

CONTINUED: http://americablog.com/2013/02/our-growing-income-inequality-causes-43-of-the-projected-social-security-shortfall.html

[-] 2 points by owsarmy (271) 5 years ago

That is a better presentation.

I was just trying to save space on the thread.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

2 Years in Jail for Sitting on a Milk Crate?

The Shocking Ways America Punishes Poor People Living on the Street (Hard Times, USA)

Laws all over the country are designed solely to target the homeless. There are better solutions.

February 2, 2013 |

Editor's note: There are more than one million homeless people in America and 138 million people who live paycheck to paycheck. Many more are struggling, wondering how they'll make rent or get enough food. Those numbers are astounding. This is America. Many proudly think our society is fair, but the evidence overwhelmingly shows that fairness in America is a myth. In the weeks and months ahead, AlterNet will shine more light on America's economic injustice in an ongoing series, Hard Times USA. Since many have chosen to look aside, or think the traditional ways of doing politics will fix things, there is still much to learn about how this problem will be solved, or not solved.

We are launching our ongoing series with two articles today: Part 1, below, looks at how America punishes poor people living on the street, part of a larger pattern of dealing with poverty through criminalization rather than social and policy fixes that have been shown to work better. Part 2 addresses the growing apathy toward the plight of the poor, after decades of conservative demonization. As the gap between the wealthy and the poor keeps growing, there is a sense that more and more people don't want to deal with the poor. Is that how you want our society to be? What's your role? It's time to rethink poverty. Part 3 in our series, running on Wednesday, looks at copper theft as a means of survival in California's poorest city. Part 4 will look into the psychology of how people react when they encounter street homeless. Much more to come.

-- Don Hazen, executive editor of AlterNet

In 2008, Atlanta police orchestrated an unusual sting: officers shed their uniforms to go undercover as tourists and office workers, a stunt designed to entrap beggars in the city's tourist areas. Forty-four people were arrested for panhandling in one month. The best part about the sting, police officials said at the time, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, was that while actual tourists rarely bothered to come back to testify about their terrible abuse at the hands of the city's beggars, the undercover cops would make for enthusiastic witnesses. At the time, Atlanta had banned panhandling within 15 feet of an ATM, bus stop, taxi stand, payphone, public toilet -- and anywhere after dark.

CONTINUED: http://www.alternet.org/2-years-jail-sitting-milk-crate-shocking-ways-america-punishes-poor-people-living-street-hard-times?paging=off

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Life Among the Plutocrats -- What Unimaginable Wealth Does to a Person

They control our politics, shape our societies, outsource our jobs.

January 4, 2013 | By Crawford Kilian

Reviewed:Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland (Doubleday, Canada 2012)

Last year the Occupy movement brought the subject of inequality into public debate, and especially the inequality between those of us in the 99 per cent and the happy few in the one per cent. But Chrystia Freeland has been studying the happy few for years, and has spent many hours talking with some of their most famous and powerful members.

The result is a book full of surprises and insights. Today's plutocrats are the latest variation on an old theme, and at the same time they're strikingly new in many ways.

Societies have supported plutocratic classes at least since ancient Rome, and the Gilded Age of the US after the Civil War presaged our own: A rising class of self-made men, imaginative exploiters of new technology and wider trade. Then it was the telegraph and the railroad; now it's the internet and the container ship.

Freeland's plutocrats are mostly self-made also, and overwhelmingly male; one very rich man suggested to her that women lack the "killer instinct" needed for real success. But they are not the idle heirs of rich parents. The "working rich" are a distinct class: smart, ambitious and often outsiders.

What's more, they represent a dramatic change from the 19th and early 20th century, Freeland argues. Then, the conflict was between capital and workers, with workers doomed to lose because they couldn't own the means of production.

The communist revolutions were supposed to transfer those means to the workers, but instead transferred them to a new class of upstart intellectuals and technical experts. She cites Milovan Djilas, Tito's second in command in communist Yugoslavia. In the 1960s Djilas wrote "The New Class" to describe this phenomenon as a corruption of communist orthodoxy; Tito threw him in jail.

They didn't come entirely out of the blue. Freeland documents the gradual but decisive shift in fields like finance, which since the age of the superstar had been regulated to the point of boredom. This came along with a new struggle: Now it wasn't capital versus labour, but capital versus talent.Even more ironically, the same new intellectual class now runs capitalism -- with the exception of the princelings of the Chinese Communist Party, the billionaire sons and grandsons of Mao's old proletarian comrades. But elsewhere, smart young men got possession of ex-Soviet resources, or an operating system for newfangled personal computers, and within months were rich beyond imagining.

The age of the superstar

Companies were no longer stuck with local workers and their high wages. Globalization meant they could outsource the work to anywhere in the world, whether Chinese special economic zones or Mexican maquiladoras.

And by the 1970s we were in the age of the superstar: the baseball player, singer, or CEO whose talent could make the difference between corporate success and failure. Talent couldn't be bolted to the shop floor, and superstars in any field could name their price.

CONTINUED: http://www.alternet.org/life-among-plutocrats-what-unimaginable-wealth-does-person?paging=off

[-] 1 points by redandbluestripedpill (333) 5 years ago

The last class is here.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Never give up

[-] 1 points by redandbluestripedpill (333) 5 years ago

They're last because they do not give up. They stand for no class, they stand for human life surviving and evolving.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

As long as they realize their in a class war.

[-] 1 points by redandbluestripedpill (333) 5 years ago

Very good point. With corporatism creating the consumer class, dumbed down, not realizing they are under attack.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

That's the point of this post.

"Idiocracy," http://www.solarmovie.so/watch-idiocracy-2006.html

[-] 1 points by redandbluestripedpill (333) 5 years ago

Idiocracy - I'll watch it :-)

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

It's schlocky, but the message is searing.

[-] 0 points by repubsRtheprob (1209) 5 years ago
[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Time and Punishment

Prison and the Poverty Trap

Mary F. Calvert for The New York Times | February 18, 2013

WASHINGTON — Why are so many American families trapped in poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton. Time and Punishment

John Tierney, the Findings columnist for Science Times, is exploring the social science of incarceration. Articles in this series are looking at the effects of current policies on families and communities, and new ideas for dealing with offenders.

Carl Harris, 47, whose days as a crack dealer ended at age 24, when he started two decades behind bars, playing with his dog at home in Washington.

For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage together.

His $1.15-per-hour prison wages didn’t even cover the bills for the phone calls and marathon bus trips to visit him. Struggling to pay rent and buy food, Ms. Hamilton ended up homeless a couple of times.

“Basically, I was locked up with him,” she said. “My mind was locked up. My life was locked up. Our daughters grew up without their father.”

The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities.

“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”

Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.

No one denies that some people belong in prison. Mr. Harris, now 47, and his wife, 45, agree that in his early 20s he deserved to be there. But they don’t see what good was accomplished by keeping him there for two decades, and neither do most of the researchers who have been analyzing the prison boom.

The number of Americans in state and federal prisons has quintupled since 1980, and a major reason is that prisoners serve longer terms than before. They remain inmates into middle age and old age, well beyond the peak age for crime, which is in the late teenage years — just when Mr. Harris first got into trouble.

‘I Just Lost My Cool’

After dropping out of high school, Mr. Harris ended up working at a carwash and envying the imports driven by drug dealers. One day in 1983, at the age of 18, while walking with his girlfriend on a sidewalk in Washington where drugs were being sold, he watched a high-level dealer pull up in a Mercedes-Benz and demand money from an underling.

“This dealer was draped down in jewelry and a nice outfit,” Mr. Harris recalled in an interview in the Woodridge neighborhood of northeast Washington, where he and his wife now live. “The female with him was draped down, too, gold and everything, dressed real good.

“I’m watching the way he carries himself, and I’m standing there looking like Raggedy Ann. My girl’s looking like Raggedy Ann. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ ”

Within two years, he was convicted of illegal gun possession, an occupational hazard of his street business selling PCP and cocaine. He went to Lorton, the local prison, in 1985, shortly after he and Ms. Hamilton had their first daughter. He kept up his drug dealing while in prison — “It was just as easy to sell inside as outside” — and returned to the streets for the heyday of the crack market in the late 1980s.

The Washington police never managed to catch him with the cocaine he was importing by the kilo from New York, but they arrested him for assaulting people at a crack den. He says he went into the apartment, in the Shaw neighborhood, to retrieve $4,000 worth of crack stolen by one of his customers, and discovered it was already being smoked by a dozen people in the room.

“I just lost my cool,” he said. “I grabbed a lamp and chair lying around there and started smacking people. Nobody was hospitalized, but I broke someone’s arm and cut another one in the leg.”

An assault like that would have landed Mr. Harris behind bars in many countries, but not for nearly so long. Prisoners serve significantly more time in the United States than in most industrialized countries. Sentences for drug-related offenses and other crimes have gotten stiffer in recent decades, and prosecutors have become more aggressive in seeking longer terms — as Mr. Harris discovered when he saw the multiple charges against him.


Next Page »


A Family’s Sentence

A version of this article appeared in print on February 19, 2013, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Prison and the Poverty Trap.


[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Capital Gains Tax Cuts ‘By Far’ The Biggest Contributor To Growth In Income Inequality, Study Finds

By Travis Waldron on Feb 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Changes in tax law that reduced the federal tax rate on capital gains income is “by far the largest contributor” to rising income inequality in the United States, according to a new paper from Thomas Hungerford, an economist at the Congressional Research Service.

Capital gains and other investment income was taxed as regular wage income from 1986 until 1996, when the capital gains rate was reduced. It was further reduced as part of the Bush tax cuts, and over the last decade, it has reversed the equalizing effects of taxes and allowed for massive income gains for the wealthy that translated directly into increased income inequality:

By far, the largest contributor to this increase was changes in income from capital gains and dividends. Changes in wages had an equalizing effect over this period as did changes in taxes. Most of the equalizing effect of taxes took place after the 1993 tax hike; most of the equalizing effect, however, was reversed after the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts. [...]

The large increase in the contribution of capital gains and dividends to the Gini coefficient, however, is due to the large increase in the share of after-tax income from capital gains and dividends, and to the increase in the correlation of this income source with after-tax income.

Hungerford’s findings are similar to a study he produced for the Congressional Research Service in 2011, which found that while income grew 25 percent from 1996 to 2006 for all Americans, it grew 74 percent for the top 1 percent and 96 percent for the top 0.1 percent. That study also found that tax cuts on capital gains were the biggest driver of the disparity.

The capital gains rate increased to 20 percent at the beginning of 2013, and top earners will pay an even higher rate because of a surcharge to help pay for Obamacare. Still, the rate remains far lower than the top income tax rate, even as inequality in America is now comparable to countries like Pakistan and the Ivory Coast. (HT: Greg Sargent)