Monday, July 19, 2010

Wealth Concentration in America

I made this post back in April 2009. It's worth a repost, as a reminder of one of the key things that ails our economy right now:

Senator Burr is a member of the Republican machine in Washington DC that simply loves to twist the facts to their advantage. It makes me mad. It should make you mad too. The latest egregious effort from that machine came from Republican Ari Fleischer, the former Press Secretary to George W Bush. Ari wrote a provocative opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about who pays income taxes in our country.

Ari's argument can be boiled down to this, the rich pay the largest proportion of our nation's income taxes. The poor pay almost nothing. In fact, we're quickly getting to the point that almost 50% of Americans don't pay income taxes. At first blush, that makes you mad. But they do pay payroll taxes if they have a job. Still, it's an intellectually dishonest presentation of the facts. And that's what should really make you mad. The Republican machine, of which Senator Richard Burr is a dues paying member, is good at twisting an argument to scare you into their way of thinking.

Why is it dishonest? Those who have the wealth should pay the most for the privilege of living in a society that allowed them to build the wealth. And the wealth concentration in our country is simply out of control. Think long and hard about what I am going to type next:
  1. Less than 1% of Americans control over 34% of our nation's wealth.
  2. The top 10% of Americans control 71% of our nation's wealth.
  3. The bottom 40% control less than 1% of our nation's wealth.
And these were 2004 stats. It's probably worse now. Shocking! Absolutely shocking! But when put into the context of Ari's opinion piece, it makes Ari and the Republican party machine look foolish for whining about the wealthy having to pay taxes.

Those who can afford to pay should pay. They got wealthy on the back of all the institutions provided by our government. And when the top 10% of Americans control almost 75% of our nation's wealth, I would think they'd be grateful. They should keep their mouths shut about having to pay income tax. Pay it, and be grateful to live in America.

So, the next time you hear a Republican like Senator Richard Burr whining about the high income taxes we pay, ask him why it is that only 10% of Americans control 71% of the wealth. Ask him why the wealth concentration continues to be tilted to the richest among us. And then demand to know why it is that these people aren't paying MORE. We run up budget deficits so they can get richer. Is that fair?

I'm in the 10% group. And I'm very grateful to live in this country. I don't mind paying my fair share of income taxes, even if it means paying more. I am a Republican. But I also know that immense concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is a very bad thing for prosperous societies. Think about it like a game of poker. If 4 people are playing poker, and one person takes everyone's money, the game is over. That's no different than a country and it's economy. When a very few people accumulate all the wealth, the economic game is over. Wealth concentration is bad. We have to put in place mechanisms to prevent it from getting worse, and even reverse some of what has already happened, if we are to remain a strong country with a viable economy. The wealthy must pay more income taxes so we can balance our budget and reverse some of the wealth concentration that has already happened.

Senator Richard Burr doesn't understand how bad the wealth concentration has gotten in our country. If he did, he wouldn't be preaching about high tax rates on the wealthy. We need to throw this man out of office. Join me. Vote against Richard Burr in the next election. North Carolina deserves better.

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