jeudi 31 mars 2011

How much do they have to accumulate before it's enough?

While subbing on yesterday's Randi Rhodes show, Nicole Sandler asked, "What does this country look like when they get everything they want?" It's a valid question. Once they've eliminated unions, the various programs that consitute the social safety net, Social Security, Medicare, abortion, birth control, worker protections and environmental regulations, child labor laws and public education and college for all but the rich; when they get rid of ALL corporate taxes, what does this oligarch's paradise look like? She didn't offer an answer, because the reality is that when (and it's WHEN, not IF, because there is no one who has the clout or the willingness to stop it) the Republicans get everything they want, what it looks like is something we don't even want to contemplate.

I keep thinking it looks something like Jamaica during that country's worst economic times, where you have dire poverty living alongside massive fortress-like mansions, guarded with big burly guys and rottweilers imported from the states. If that sounds like paradise for the have-mores, they might consider the fate of reggae star Peter Tosh, who was murdered by a gang led by a man he'd befriended and attempted to find a job for after the man had spent time in prison. Peter Tosh sang of equal rights and justice:

Everyone is crying out for peace yes
None is crying out for justice

I don't want no peace
I need equal rights and justice (3x)
Got to get it
Equal rights and justice

Everybody want to go to heaven
But nobody want to die
Everybody want to go to up to heaven
But none o them (2x) want to die

(Just give me my share)

What is due to Caesar
You better give it on to Caesar
And what belong to I and I
You better (2x) give it up to I

(I'm fighting for it)

Everyone heading for the top
But tell me how far is it from the bottom
Nobody knows but
Everybody fighting to reach the top
How far is it from the bottom


Everyone is talking about crime
Tell me who are the criminals
I said everybody's talking about crime, crime
Tell me who, who are the criminals
I really don't see them


There be no crime
Equal rights and justice (Precedes each line below)
There be no criminals
Everyone is fighting for
Palestine is fighting for
Down in Angola
Down in Botswana
Down in Zimbabwe
Down in Rhodesia
Right here in Jamaica

...and was murdered anyway.

There are still people in this country singing the "rich people create jobs" mantra, even though corporate profits are at an all-time high and job "growth" is miniscule at best. There are still people in this country who think that if they Just Work Hard Enough they'll get into the club of people who have houses in the Hamptons and in Cap d'Antibes -- as if amassing that kind of wealth is about work and not about connections. There are still people who think that the remaining Americans who haven't yet gotten utterly screwed are at fault for the plight of those who have.

So the question that comes before what this country will look like when the right wing gets its way is how much money do we have to stuff into the pockets of the wealthiest before they have enough? You'd think we were there already:

What you see above is from a new paper issued by the Economic Policy Institute, which shows that the top 5% in this country now control 65% of its wealth...and the bottom 80% -- that's eight out of ten -- only hold 12.8%.

Les Leopold points out the hard facts of what is going on in this country:

  • The average real wage of the non-supervisory production workers (which comprise 82.4 percent of total private non-farm employees) actually declined by 9 percent between 1975 and 2010.
  • Meanwhile the top 1 percent saw their share of national income rise from 8 percent in 1975 to 23.5 percent in 2005
  • More amazing still, the wage gap between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker jumped from $45 to $1 in 1970 to an unbelievable $1,723 to $1 in 2006
  • Today after the crash, financial incomes are so enormous that in 2010, John Paulson, the top hedge fund manager, earned $2.4 million an HOUR (not a misprint), and his tax rate is less than yours

I'm not sure anything can stop this relentless march -- or this buy-in of still far too many Americans into their own doom. We know what the Republicans want, but the Democrats are feeding from the same Wall Street trough. What do you think? Is there any way out of this, or is the best we can hope for a painless death before it all falla apart?

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