Saturday, January 18, 2014

Increasing Inequality - A Major Underlying Cause Of Societal Ills

The Myth of the Deserving Rich

I'd really like to see this chart with the top 0.1% broken out.  Most people would be gobsmacked by the reality of it.

"What's a sociologizer to do? Well, what you see, over and over, is that they find ways to avoid talking about the one percent. They talk about the top quintile, or at most the top 5 percent; this lets them discuss rising incomes at the top as if we were talking about two married lawyers or doctors, not the CEOs and private equity managers who are actually driving the numbers. And this in turn lets them keep the focus on comfortable topics like family structure, and away from uncomfortable topics like runaway finance and the corruption of our politics by great wealth. This is, by the way, why the Occupy slogan about the one percent is so brilliant. I would actually argue that the number should be even smaller. But one percent is an easy to remember number, and small enough to make it clear that we're not talking about the upper middle class. And that's good. The myth of the deserving rich is, in its own way, as destructive as the myth of the undeserving poor."

The army of paid shills and corporate media do a remarkable job of obfuscating the issue for the vast majority.  But things are getting so bad that the truth of the situation is seeping through, and the people are not happy about it.  We need a sea change in tax policy and our public spending levels and priorities.


Dr. Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Reilly said...

OK, I'm genuinely puzzled. This is the second non sequitur comment you've posted to the blog.

But in this case, leaving aside the ridiculousness and desperation of the Benghazi! non-sequitur-within-a-non-sequitur flim-flam . . . there was a relevant Christie post just below this one!

Maybe you should be posting as Dr. Nick.

Dr. Steve said...

The Pointing Finger
Featured in the Canarsie Courier - "Brooklyn's oldest weekly newspaper

The Rich Won't Make You Poor...Really
by Dr. Stephen Finger
Why all the fuss about 'income inequality?' Is that really the 'biggest problem we're facing today?' Is it, in fact, really a 'problem' at all?
Microsoft, Google, Facebook, speaking of 'income inequality,' suppose they had never come along and created all their stuff, would one poor person, or even one not-so-poor person, be the slightest bit more prosperous and happy? We got some good stuff and they got really rich. So? It's only 'fair' if we got the stuff and their money too? Where did that come from?
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the Wright brothers....same thing. Would the 'poor' have been better off without electric lights and cars and railroads and steel and airplanes? Pre-industrial America was rough. The only thing the 'robber barons' robbed us of was a short, tough life. The fact that their incomes were 'unequal' to pretty much everyone else's one.
This is not agrarian Europe in the 1700's where you got rich by getting a bunch of peasants to work your land and then taking as much of the crop as you could get away with, until they decided to chop your head off. In an industrial society, you don't divide the pie. You grow it.
Don't get snookered by the progressive, social justice, 'we love you more than we love ourselves' bunch. Inequality is not the problem even though it sort of sounds like it should be. And taking from the rich is not an 'economic plan.'
You can't raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. It's an illusion. The only thing you get that way is a country full of people who've forgotten how to stand up straight.

Dr. Finger practices medicine (Otolaryngology) in Brooklyn. He ran for Congress in '06 on
Libertarian and Republican lines. Visit our blog at:
[Please feel free to pass along to anyone you think might be interested. Thanks.]

Gary Reilly said...

You're ignoring the role of society in the formation of those fortunes. Stanadardization, contractual enforcement, eminent domain and patents, licensures, exclusive franchises and so on and so on.

No fortune is built in a vacuum.

You didn't include any representatives of the extractive industries, but that of course, is an even greater example, where public wealth is privatized.

In any event, an increase in (a) the number of tax brackets (b) marginal tax rates in newly created tax brackets above the ones we have today and (c) increased estate taxes, and (d) the treatment of investment income as ordinary income would go a long way toward bringing us back to the norms of the mid-twentieth century.

And in this particular area of policy (as opposed to most if not any others) that would be a good thing.