A recent Newsweek article said 400 individuals in the United States own more wealth than about 50 percent of all other Americans.
As astounding as that statistic is, equally disturbing is that 90 percent of wage earners have received a whopping $280 raise per year in actual earnings in the past 30 years while the top 1 percent’s share of the national income has doubled from 9 percent in 1977 to 20 percent today. The share of the richest 0.1 percent of that top 1 percent has tripled. That means only 150,000 households now “earn” as much as the bottom 120 million households combined.
So, now how do you feel about the richest retaining their tax cuts?
GE, the largest corporation in America, hasn’t paid any taxes for the past few years.
What are you and your tax lawyer doing about hiding your income in the Cayman Islands?
I’m guessing the next time somebody whines about our government trying to “redistribute the wealth," you might ask them where they fit into this arrangement. Ask them how they’re paying for their child’s higher education. Ask them what they think their fair share of the American money machine is.
Our inequality of wealth rivals the worst banana republics we used to despise. We now are the banana republic, at least with regard to wealth distribution and the vast differences between how poor people live while the richest buy multimillion-dollar homes for part-time residence. Do you suppose some of those poor people might like to see a little largesse thrown their way in the form of a job that pays enough to raise a family or send a kid to college?
History is the greatest teacher known to humans, because we are the only organism that can process what preceded our lifetimes. Long-term history teaches us, presumably, to avoid making the same mistakes as our ancestors. That is how we lived to 2011 as the most dominant species on Earth in the past 50,000 years.
The point here is we in America don’t seem to have learned the history lessons of medieval economies and societies. Even ancient Egypt, which has given us artifacts to fill museums around the world, doesn’t seem to faze us as we allow the ruling class to become smaller and richer while the general population becomes bigger and poorer — and not for want of resources. Ancient Rome, which overlapped Egypt’s last dynasties, rotted from within when an oligarchy usurped power from their grand experiment in representative government and handed it to one man.
What amazes me is the number of people actually promoting this shift toward an oligarchy that will take food out of their own mouths, roofs from over their head and education away from their children. Those oligarch wannabes will not qualify for the 400 Club, yet they carry on as if they will be part of the show instead of just the stagehands sweating behind the scenes. I’m not sure any particular political party affiliation, cult membership or other traditional “tribal” identification can be attributed to the promoters of American oligarchy, because everyone seems to be accepting it without regard to consequences.
Will it take that final drama when the 400 finally slam the door on the rest of us, before people wake up to the fact they’ve given away the country to the few while whining about some interpretation of the word socialism?
Those who currently dismiss Michael Moore’s documentaries will hate to remember the scene from "Capitalism: A Love Story" when the banks sent letters describing a plutocratic takeover of finances in the U.S. and part of the Western world.
The 400 will make it so.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.