We are on the verge of becoming a Banana Republic. That is not just coming from me, many other people have written about the same topic, from Paul Krugman to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.
In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie.
But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.
At a time when we have the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the “tea party” “patriots” are advocating that we cannot afford to increase taxes on the richest Americans.
Kristof gets what the “ta parties” have never gotten:
The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.
Lets look at some
*The official US poverty numbers show we now have the highest number of poor people in 51 years. The official US poverty rate is 14.3 percent or 43.6 million people in poverty. One in five children in the US is poor; one in ten senior citizens is poor. Source: US Census Bureau.
*A record 2.8 million homes received a foreclosure notice in 2009, higher than both 2008 and 2007. In 2010, the rate is expected to be rise to 3 million homes. Sources: Reuters and RealtyTrac.
*Eleven million homeowners (about one in four homeowners) in the US are “under water” or owe more on their mortgages than their house is worth. Source: “Home truths,” The Economist, October 23, 2010.
*The top Hedge Fund Manager of 2009, David Tepper, “earned” $4 billion last year. The rest of the top ten earned: $3.3 billion, $2.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $1.4 billion, $1.3 billion (tie for 6th and 7th place), $900 million (tie for 8th and 9th place), and in last place out of the top ten, $825 million. Source: Business Insider. “Meet the top 10 earning hedge fund managers of 2009.” http://www.businessinsider.com/meet-the-top-10-earning-hedge-fund-managers-of-2009-2010-4
*In 1973, the average US CEO was paid $27 for every dollar paid to a typical worker; by 2007 that ratio had grown to $275 to $1. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America. http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/tabfig/2008/03/SWA08_Wages_Figure.3AE.pdf
*Since 1992, the average tax rate on the richest 400 taxpayers in the US dropped from 26.8% to 16.62%. Source: US Internal Revenue Service. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/07intop400.pdf
As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
As you can tell this is an issue that delves far deeper than I an in this post. The thing is this might be the biggest problem facing America right now and with the activist “Citizens United” ruling might be near impossible to fix. When we have candidate Obama correctly bringing up the issue to Sam Wurzelbacher and getting ridiculed by not just the rich (Ie fox news) but by Wurzelbacher himself, despite the fact that he would benefit from Obama\'s policies.
It is not just about “taking money” from the “rich” and giving it to the poor, that takes the argument to the extreme in order to lessen it. This is a very real problem we have and needs to be addressed. When the top 400 taxpayers in the US are paying 16% in taxes and you and I are paying in the 30% range then we have a problem. When 2/3 corporations are paying NO taxes, and elections are hinging on WIsconsin as a “tax hell” then we have a problem. We need adults to have the conversation that are not bought and paid for by Wall St.
Finally here are 15 more mind-blowing facts from Business Insider.