Sunday Special: Dollars Versus Sense

This is the kind of thing that would normally show up in ours Peoplenomics subscriber reading, but it’s of broad enough interest, you might want to read it whole as time this weekend permits.

It’s from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  Yes, he’s a self-described socialist, but no, that doesn’t make him wrong – and here’s why:

As I’ve been writing about for more than a dozen years now, there’s a titanic battle going on between good and evil.  One aspect of that fight is the concentration of the world’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands while the ultra-rich have now got their hands on the neck of government so tightly that we might as well put government policies up for bid on eBay.

Between  the special interest groups of the One Percenters and the K Street Mafioso’s – the lobbying/influence buyers – socialist Sanders is one of the few talking common sense. 

From his website:

With the wealth gap in the United States growing and greater already than in any other major country, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday called for a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires.   “A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much while so many have so little. We need a tax system which asks the billionaire class to pay its fair share of taxes and which reduces the obscene degree of wealth inequality in America,” Sanders said in a speech to the Vermont AFL-CIO annual convention in South Burlington, Vermont.

The growing wealth gap in the U.S. is worse now than at any time since 1928, the year before the Great Depression began. The top 1 percent of Americans own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The richest 400 Americans have amassed more than $2 trillion in wealth, a sum greater than all of the assets of the bottom 150 million Americans combined.  One family, the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans.

While the rich are becoming richer, more Americans live in poverty today than at any time in our nation’s history.  Half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in savings. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty – 22 percent – than any other major country.

Sanders said the fairest way to reduce wealth inequality, lower the $17 trillion national debt and pay for investments in infrastructure, education and other neglected national priorities would be to enact a progressive estate tax on the wealthiest Americans, the top 0.25 percent.

Under his proposal, 99.75 percent of Americans would not pay a penny more in estate taxes. For those who would pay more, the tax rate on estates valued from $3.5 million to $10 million would be 40 percent. There would be a 50 percent tax on estates worth $10 million to $50 million and a 55 percent levy on estates worth more than $50 million. A 10 percent surtax would be applied on estates worth more than $1 billion, a category that today includes fewer than 500 American families. The bill also would close estate tax loopholes that have allowed the wealthy to avoid an estimated $100 billion since 2000.  On all estates, the first $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples would be exempt from federal taxes. 

Sanders’ proposal won praise from leading economists.

America “is creating an aristocracy of wealth populated by heirs who don’t have to work for a living yet have great influence over how the nation’s productive assets are deployed,” according to Robert B. Reich, a former U.S. Department of Labor secretary who is now a University of California at Berkely professor. Reich called Sanders’ estate tax bill “a welcome step toward reversing this trend.”

Thomas Piketty, the top-selling author and Paris School of Economics professor, said  the United States pioneered progressive estate and income taxes but today is on the  verge of becoming even more unequal than pre-World War I Europe. “To avoid this, one needs stronger investment in skills and education, better paying jobs and a more progressive tax system. Sen. Sanders’ estate tax bill is an important step in this direction.”

We’ve had this talk before, but I’d suggest that it marks a major turning point in the discussion when a US Senator sees the problem, calls it out, and offers a workable solution.

And that’s why this-here Sunday Special:

In coming weeks look for the Ameristocracy to scream bloody hell.  They’ll wrap up incredible wealth in an American flag and argue that to oppose the Rule of Rich is anti-American.

The facts argue the contrary:  Under the bleedership of the Rich, America as the same levels of poverty as we had back when Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty.  It’s all been bullshit and it’s often been steered to break up families.

50-years later, the poor are still poor, inheritance is still funding the American Aristocracy families, and economic progress (on an inflation-adjusted basis) is about zero.

Since World War II, America has drifted into a kind of “controlled” version of democratic socialism.  The controlled part is the bothersome point:  the rich are still getting richer. 

As I’ve said before, got no quarrel with an honest socialist…at least they are honest.  You might think that after 50-years of Monday morning’s the sheep would wake the ‘ef up.

The reason they are able to slumber on should become apparent shortly as those with billions defend scream their “Right” to anoint future generations with unearned wealth instead of getting the old-fashioned way like the rest of us.

By working…

Say bah.   Or say “Bernie for President.”   Give me an honest socialist over what’s her name, any time.