Thursday, December 01, 2011

The amazing rise of the rich

Recently, I ran across Tim Dickinson's essay in Rolling Stone describing the intentional, dramatic and unjust strategy that has been imposed on us all over the past 25 years (see below). The facts of the case make me angry. The ugly truth about our culture, our economy and our political reality would enrage the Hebrew prophets, you know, guys like Amos, Jeremiah, Micah, Isaiah, to say nothing of Jesus and his brother, James.

Please take the time to read the entire report. Then, tell me what you think. I hope some of you who seldom comment will make the special effort to do so on this post. I can anticipate the predictable reactions of some of my regular readers. What I need on this post is a response from you who see the truth here. I'd love a conversation about what we can do. Or, if you disagree with the article, comment on its substance.
How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent
By Tim Dickinson
November 9, 2011 7:00 AM ET

The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation's balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that's crazy."

Preacher-like, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Read the entire instructive report here.


Anonymous said...

I don't accept the premise that the Republicans are the party of the rich. There are probably more rich Dems in Congress than Republicans. The two richest men in the country are Dems. The Dems raise more money from the rich than Republicans who get more of their money from smaller contributions. In addition Obama seems to love hanging out with the fat cats on Wall street.

Everyone should give their fair share, even the almost half the country who pay no Federal taxes. Everyone should have skin in the game.

If every penny of millionaires and billionaires were paid into the Federal coffers, it would not be enough to run the government but for a few weeks.

Another point, everyone would feel better about paying taxes if their hard earned money was not wasted by giving it to a slush fund for the Dems.

Larry James said...

Please don't comment until you read the article. Please comment on it's substance or don't waste our time w/unrelated opinions.

rcorum said...

I am half way through the article. I plan to read it all, but I don't feel that I need to comment because you are looking for new commenters, which is fine.

Larry James said...

RC, always welcome your comments because you stay on the actual subject matter of my posts. Feel free to comment. I'd appreciate your reactions to some of the factual information of this report. Best.

Anonymous said...

Link is down!

Anonymous said...

I voted twice for Reagan (including my first vote), twice for Bush 41, for Dole, and once for Bush 43 (first term). In 2004 I reluctantly voted for Kerry. In 2008 I voted for Obama, with mixed feelings.

This article, replete with hard facts about the dramatic shift in Republican values and rhetoric, and with quotes from former R leaders, dramatically confirms what I had begun to believe. When asked about why he left the Democratic party, Reagan said, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me." I now feel the same about the R party. R's from Eisenhower to Reagan would barely recognize their party today.

I am re-registering as Independent.


Anonymous said...

Gosh Ken, you are still not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Any article on politics in the far left Rolling Stone is to be taken as a grain of salt. Distortions, misquotes, and a lack of objectivity totally discredit the article as a valid unbiased critique.

As for you comment about changing from republican to democrat in your voting pattern, Can you say "Trojan Horse"?

Anonymous said...

The article was full of facts and direct quotes. You haven't refuted one. As Larry requested ... substance please.

And, wow, I didn't realize what a nefarious genius I was ... voting for the R party candidate 6 times just to undermine the party. I'm brilliant!


Larry James said...

Anon 10:45, you can't dismiss these facts presented by competent journalist. Refute the facts presented or simply step back. This report is fully accurate. And, like it or not, the R party has changed dramatically.

Anonymous said...

How about cutting spending?

Anonymous said...

"Refute these facts or simply step back"

Like you refuted the 10 brief charges that you are a socialist?

rcorum said...

I have to admit that this is a powerful article, but I do believe that it has flaws. It mainly fails to show the equal, if not greater flaws in the Democratic Party. Everything has been turned into politics. I think about Bush I, and he probably made the right decision to raise taxes, but the democrats ate him alive with one commercial after another just to win votes when they knew he did the right thing. I also find fault with what he doesn't say in regards to the way out budget works. You cut 3% from a built in 10% raise in spending and call it a 3% cut. One more concern. After reading the article I felt like he used Reagan and others when it suited his needs. Overall though the article was powerful and I will have to study it further. I do wish that the Republicans could better differentiate between a tax increase and the closing of a loophole. Thanks for the challenge. Fellow conservatives please rise to the challenge instead of just attacking Larry. We can do better, or can we?

Larry James said...

Anon 5:52, I hate to keep addressing you by changing times. What is your name?

Once again you simply dodge the challenge of clear thought and opt for your golden tongue. I am not a socialist. But that doesnt' matter or relate to the subject at hand. Comment on the article or simply stand down. The facts speak for themselves.

RC, you are correct about the political foolishness of the Dems when President Bush did the right thing. Shame on them. But you are also very honest and correct when you recogize the truth of the essay. I wish everyone had your heart and commitment to honesty.

Larry James said...

Anon 2:02, your point would be in relation to the article???

Anonymous said...

I printed the article - 18 pages - and it strikes me that you, Larry, are not interested in addressing 10 two- or three-sentence paragraphs illustrating your socialist agenda but you demand that any of us who disagree with you about the article should "step back" unless we are addressing specific tenets of the article. I think you employed the phrase "long-winded" to summarily dismiss the 10 charges. I think you're intellectually incapable of defending your positions and unwilling to enter into serious discussion.

I will read the entire article, eventually, because I believe it probably contains important and factual information that helps the reader understand the current political context. Thanks for linking the article.

However, I think you should understand that even the best and most convincing damnation of the republican party is no condemnation of conservatism. Unwittingly, you may be highlighting the valuable service of the Tea Party.

Why are so many former republicans vacating the party, if only until the 2012 election? And why has the democrat party and its leader been rated so low in polls over the last year? Those of us disgusted with republican party gamesmanship & hypocrisy have not flocked to the democrat team. Though the article may very well clarify some/many inconsistencies or downright injustices of the emerging republican party, that does not suggest that a socialist agenda is now more appealing to independents and frustrated conservatives.

Further, I must go back to a basic point: if you could take ALL earnings of the 400 most wealthy wage earners in the USA for the next decade, we still could not meet all obligations imposed on us by the entitlements created by the liberal establishment.

Since I am not in the elite financial class, I might as well join you in condemning the uber-rich, right? But once we realize that those currently defined as wealthy can not pay all our bills, we'll need to revise our definition and find additional sources of funding. And that means a bigger base of tax payers must be tapped to get the cash.

A central argument often reflected on this blog is that it is immoral for a few to have so much, while there exists a sizable number of people are poor and that number is growing. I challenge that claim.

First, the definition of poor currently in play by the liberal elite is highly suspect. The wage issue is a sham.

Second, just because a person is wealthy does not in itself make him/her immoral. And just b/c s/he does not share their wealth does not automatically make him/her immoral.

Third, behind behavior is a principle: stealing is wrong. And it does not matter whether the stealing is facilitated by use of a gun or a bill signed by the president.

Fourth, goodness and virtue do not emerge from legislation.

Finally, (for now)the republican party gets what it deserves. And so does the democrat party. Democrats controlled presidency, the senate and the house for two years. One might think the mature heads of the liberal party would direct our ship of state to fiscal responsibility. No go.

My next post will include a list of the Forbes top 400 wealthiest people. Here's a tickler: how many are republicans and how many are democrats? You might be surprised.

Anonymous said...

The Forbes 400 Richest People in America.

I'll save you the trouble of moving your mouse by quoting one article analyzing the list right here:

The Link
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 | Read more from this source: Michael E.
Those “Evil, Rich People” – are Democrats

From the, “you never hear about that from the media” file – Those “Evil, Rich People” that Democrats are always wailing about are actually – Democrats.


An analysis of the Top 20 Richest People in America (from Forbes Top 100) reveals that a full 60% are actually Democrats. Furthermore, if you eliminate the duplication caused by people from the same family being included in that Top 20 list (Wal-Mart & Koch) that ratio widens even further to:
25% Republican / 75% Democrat.

(The purpose of this analysis is not who makes the most money, but where they contribute / by party affiliation. Obviously, people from the same family would tend to contribute to the same party.)

Analyzing the data takes us even further. Not only are there more Democrats in the Top 20 list, but those Democrats are a lot more stingy with their money. Republicans coughed up $5.2 million while Democrats squirted out only $2.1 Million.

Of course, there is no reason not to assume that the money they contribute to Special Interest groups wouldn’t match (or closely match) those of their chosen candidates. So when you add in the money from these groups you end up with Republican Contributions at $10 million while Democrats contributed only $6 million.

Lest we not forget, Democrats outweigh Republicans. Not only in terms of the number of uber-millionaires, but also with their net worth. In this Top 20 group, Democrats have a combined net worth of $263.1 billion dollars while the Republicans have a combined net worth of only $143.9 billion dollars – almost half that of Democrats.

rcorum said...

After letting this article settle in my brain for a day or so I am left with a few impressions. More than anything else we need term limits. Congress was never designed to be a 30 year career. If you know up front that you are only going to be there at best a few years there would be less influence from special interests. I am also disgusted with the unwillingness of the Republican Party to move to make what seem to be fair changes in the tax code.

I would find the article to be even more powerful if the author followed up with a companion piece on the Democrat Party. Larry, and I think I speak for many people, we hold our collective noses when we vote. More often than not we choose what we believe to be the lesser of two evils. I just don't think our country can survive four more years of President Obama, but I also have little confidence that a Republican sweep in 2012 would bring us nirvana. One more thing, I would love to hear why you believe that Obama should be reelected.

Anonymous said...

RCorum: Thanks for your usual level-headedness.


Larry wisely won't respond to your juvenile taunting, but I will make a couple of observations:

- "Further, I must go back to a basic point: if you could take ALL earnings of the 400 most wealthy wage earners in the USA for the next decade, we still could not meet all obligations imposed on us by the entitlements created by the liberal establishment."

This is a total red herring. No one is suggesting confiscation, as opposed to a percentage of income, and no one is suggesting the federal government should have no other income than the richest 400 people. This is just Tea Party style rhetoric and meaningless.

- "First, the definition of poor currently in play by the liberal elite is highly suspect. The wage issue is a sham."

The poverty level is currently about $25,000 for a family of 4. I have a family of 4 and cannot imagine living on this amount. The median household income is about $50,000. If your household makes less than this you aren't terribly well off financially. I can't imagine what could be "suspect" about these ideas. (I suspect some sophistry.)

- "Third, behind behavior is a principle: stealing is wrong. And it does not matter whether the stealing is facilitated by use of a gun or a bill signed by the president."

This "all taxation is theft" is libertarian nonsense, as extreme as the socialism you decry. All governments at all times have had to tax to pay their bills. Ours is no exception. The issue is whether the taxes are just, not whether they should exist.

- It comes as no surprise that 60% of the richest are Democrats. That's why no less than Warren Buffet will call the R's on their absurd stand against any tax increase under any circumstances and say, "please, for the sake of my country, tax me." So we can absolutely agree that "just because a person is wealthy does not in itself make him/her immoral."


Anonymous said...

Warren Buffett ( two t's please) is one of the bigger hypocrites on planet earth. While whining that the rich should be taxed more, his company, Berkshire Hathaway, has been avoiding taxes since 2002. He owes tens of millions in back taxes.

Larry James said...

The net worth of Democrats and Republicans is clearly not the point. The issue is who do our leaders represent--the poor, the middle or the rich? The comments of several indicate that the point of the report was completely missed or, more likely, not read.

Anonymous said...

Buffett is no hypocrite. He's playing by the rules as currently written. (And I suspect his accountants and lawyers would disagree that any extra taxes are owed.) It is no hypocrisy from the man who gave away tens of billions to the Gates Foundation to do good to suggest that our government's current fiscal policy does not work. I appreciate the advice from someone who obviously understands money.


Anonymous said...

"Today, a billionaire in the top 400 pays less than 17% of his income taxes - five percentage points less than a bus driver earning $26,000 a year."

Here is a billion dollars:


Here is 17% of a billion dollars:


Here is the bus driver's income:


Here is the form 1040-indexed tax owed by a person making $26,000 (before deductions and exemptions) for a single (not married) taxpayer for the year 2011:

$3,479 (13.45%)

The claim in the article is that the bus driver pays an over 5% (approx. 22%) tax rate, which turns out to be $5,720. However, when you look up the tax rate paid in the amount of $5,719 you'll find the corresponding single taxpayer income at $38,350.

The $26,000 was not adjusted for

-Individual Retirement Account deductions
-Student Loan Interest
-Standard Deduction ($5,700 for single filers)
-Exemptions (for dependents)

Dickinson has misrepresented the rate paid by the bus driver. It appears he has declared an all-out war on the truth. I a quite happy with 400 people paying a minimum of a $170M tax bill each year. I am not happy that 47% who pay none.

Anonymous said...

I turned the page, hoping to find something true and I found a graph, entitled "The 400 Richest," which illustrates average amount of income and tax paid over a range of 11 years, from 1996 to 2007. The graph shows dramatic increase in income and slight increase in tax paid by the 400. This was taken from a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office.

But then I found an article explaining why the graph ended in the year 2007 and does not continue:

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CB0) says, "The share of income received by the top 1% grew from about 8% in 1979 to over 17% in 2007."

This news caused quite a stir, feeding the left's obsession with inequality. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, for example, said this "jaw-dropping report" shows "why the Occupy Wall Street protests have struck such a nerve." The New York Times opined that the study is "likely to have a major impact on the debate in Congress over the fairness of federal tax and spending policies."

But here's a question: Why did the report stop at 2007? The CBO didn't say, although its report briefly acknowledged—in a footnote—that "high income taxpayers had especially large declines in adjusted gross income between 2007 and 2009."

No kidding. Once these two years are brought into the picture, the share of after-tax income of the top 1% by my estimate fell to 11.3% in 2009 from the 17.3% that the CBO reported for 2007.

They made money - but the tax paid increased.

Wonder if I'll find any facts in this article? At least the CBO put the facts in a footnote. Dickinson didn't bother.

Anonymous said...

If a fact fell in the woods, could a liberal/socialist hear it?

Anonymous said...

The quote about the bus driver and the millionaire was from Ronald Reagan. Dickinson was quoting. It wasn't his illustration.

No one has refuted a single fact or quote in the article. If it uses data only up to 2007, that may be a criticism (relatively minor in my view), but still refutes none of the facts and quotes relied upon. Not one.