A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

In Polemics, Politics, Uncategorized on August 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Class warfare. It’s an expression designed to make your ears bleed and your blood boil. While Republicans insist that a tax code targeting the elite 1% is unfairly punishing the job creators, the Democrats are insisting it’s the middle class getting shafted. The summary of our nation’s love affair with “tax hate” is perhaps best summed up by the GOP rock star, Paul Ryan, in a hefty bit of political irony. (Credit to Chris Kelly for his recent piece here.)

(From page 60 of Paul Ryan’s budget.)

… these tax preferences are disproportionately used by upper-income individuals… For instance, the top 1 percent of taxpayers reap about 3 times as much benefit from special tax credits and deductions… than middle-income earners and 13 times as much benefit than the lowest income quintile…A code with high rates and lots of loopholes benefits those who can afford the best lawyers and lobbyists in Washington… those with political muscle usually take the path of least resistance by pushing for special deductions and carve-outs. This not only lowers their effective tax rates, but also enables them to use the complexities of the tax code to stack the deck against their competitors. There’s nothing fair about that.

Opposite Poles

Let’s stop for a moment and reflect on the polarity of wealth in our country. In 2009, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the average wealth of someone in the top 1% was $14 million. The average wealth of someone in the bottom 20% was -$27,200. (Yes, you read that correctly: negative wealth.) Interestingly, the poorest in our society were already suffering negative wealth before the recession hit in 2007, with an average wealth of -$13,800.

Who are the bottom 20%? Well, I suppose that depends on who you ask. Some cynics will say they are the ones who don’t pay taxes, don’t work, collect handouts and buy plasma TVs. Others will tell you they are working at Walmart, McDonald’s, or another low wage job. The more critical question is how we as a society can offer them a clear path out of poverty. But we’ll come back to that.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the often demonized billionaires. The person who maintains that obsessive, single-minded focus and carries a determination to get as rich as is humanly possible on the backs of the rest of us. Well, the evidence is that billionaires are a bit like everyone else, (only a lot richer). There are some saints, and there are some jerks.

One saint found in the top 1% is Bill Gates, who gives away an estimated $1.5 billion annually (minimum) through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Even Microsoft’s staunchest critics have trouble mustering hate against that kind of charitable giving.

The hate on Wal-Mart, in contrast, knows no bounds. The Walton family own more wealth than the bottom 40% of our country, as recently confirmed by Politifact, while offering an average entry level salary of $17,500 ($8.50/hr.). Besides the low wages, America’s small mom-and-pop shops have been driven nearly to extinction in the wake of the Wal-Mart titanic, which also saddles our communities with higher health-care costs.

Job Creators

In this failing economy, the tired expression “job creators” barely holds water when wages are too low to make ends meet, as is often discussed in connection with the Waltons. The term “job creator” becomes even more iffy when one addresses the huge sums of money our government pays in subsidies, tax breaks, deregulation and other preferential treatment for selected corporations. (After all, if one is going to be critical of “handouts” at one end of the tax spectrum, one needs to look at the other end as well.) But the term “job creator” doesn’t hold water at all when jobs are slashed and/or sent overseas.

Republicans and Democrats alike point fingers, both enraged by the politics of the other side. Both deny culpability, as if one side were magically absent through the Bush years, or through Obama’s first term.

The real eye-popping bit of “conventional wisdom” is the ascribing of blame to our government alone for the condition of our economy, and how quickly we’ve chosen to exonerate the criminal mischief on Wall Street. The government is one influencing factor on the economy, but if a single family can own more than 40% of our nation’s wealth, who is really in control? Besides, blaming the government for providing the opportunity to earn that sort of wealth is like getting mad at Monopoly for not including more of that pretty paper money.

Many of the richest (and those seeking to become the richest) Americans make their fortunes by playing the game by the government’s rules and/or skirting the edges of legality. And while some even break the law, they nevertheless know the rules well and know how to exploit them. They know that, before you create a new job, you must have a few customers at the door. They know that if no one is buying, they’ve been doing something wrong with their business.

After all, they built that.

So if that “job creator” is losing jobs, s/he has one of three choices to make:

  1. Earn a few million less and maintain the number of employees
  2. Cut jobs and/or outsource for cheaper labor.
  3. Split the difference.

None of those options makes someone a job creator. (Option one makes you a job sustainer, right?) Having said that, something else even more basic needs to be addressed.

Winners and Losers

The term “class warfare” is used to discuss what happens when tax policy unfairly targets one bracket of people. While it’s true that a tax code penalizing the wealthiest one percent is targeting the richest of the rich, it’s also true to say that the wealthiest one percent has long since “won” the war. Arguing anything else is intellectually dishonest; the richest people in the country are, by definition, the richest.

The disparity of wealth in our society, and the staggeringly low rate of economic mobility, makes it clear who the winners and losers of this hyperbolic war really are. Here is some data for America’s income in 2011, according to Jim Nunns, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

  • The top 1% of American households’ average income was $1,530,773.
  • The Median income was $65,357.
  • The bottom 20%’s average income was $9,187.

(One further statistic that jumped out at me while I was researching this blog was from 2009 when the top 1%  averaged 225 times greater wealth than the national household average.)

The American Dream: Economic Mobility

In preparing this blog I began wondering about the American Dream, that wonderful rags to riches story that is statistically so rare. Of the 1%, how many represent a true “rags to riches” story, and wouldn’t it be great if we could know the precise number of people who moved from the bottom 20% into the top 1%?

I found this report, published by the Century Foundation, which followed 6,000 people born between 1942 and 1972. It concluded that the American Dream is perhaps more of a pipe dream than it used to be. Here are some facts from their study.

  • A person born into the top 20% is five times more likely to remain there than the chances of a person born into the bottom 20% to get to into that top 20%.
  • In America, the odds are against you if you want to earn more than your dad. When fathers’ and sons’ earnings are averaged over the course of their lifetimes, we find very little economic mobility. In other words, if you’re an American boy, you’re statistically unlikely to climb to the ladder to the next highest economic class.
  • Scandinavia, Germany and Canada have greater economic mobility than the United States.

What it Means to be Poor

Finally, the term “class warfare” typically misses another point, perhaps the most critical one. There are a host of socioeconomic forces set against the poor that aren’t directly related to the subject of tax code at all but are arguably of greater impact in smothering economic mobility in this country. For instance, a poor person cannot afford to gamble his/her money in the stock market in the way a rich person can, and banks offer next to nothing in interest rates. (Nor do CDs at this point.) Massaging a little bit of money into a lot is a far greater challenge, mathematically, than it is for a rich person.

The poor live in economically depressed areas, which typically suffer from something known as the “ghetto tax.” A gallon of milk for a poor person costs more than it does for the upper 80%, unless that poor person takes the bus uptown and back every time s/he runs out. Any rich person will agree that time is money, and the working poor are likely working more than one job.

A poor person cannot avail him or herself of a “wealth manager” in the way that a rich person can. A poor person does not live near a person of wealth and cannot network the way a rich person can. A poor person will not join the rich person on the golf course, likely even to carry the bag, since those jobs are typically “networked” by club members’ sons or daughters, friends of family, etc. Instead, a poor person will network with other poor people and/or social workers. Yet, the elected leaders who champion the rights of businesses (corporations are people, it is the law of the land) are the same ones who want to tear down government programs which are, in a very real way, among the maddeningly few paths out of poverty—paths which are statistically improbable to travel, true, but social programs are a path nonetheless.

The part of this that should alarm us all, as the country braces itself for a potential hydroplane to the right with the promise/threat of repealing so much social legislation, is the sure knowledge of what happens when you corner a desperate person who only wants to live. Talking points coming from the right are too shrill, here. And this, ironically, is what cynics believe was the motivation, for the creation of welfare. A cynic will tell you that welfare was created because it was believed that was the cheaper option as compared to the cost of a sizeable enough police force necessary to safeguard the population from a desperate poor class, heavily armed, and searching for white collars. If there is no path out of poverty, we may just learn the grievous error of whipping up so much hate in our politics and believing that so few Americans could live so large while so many others are left to rot. We may actualize our self-fulfilling prophecy, and learn the difference between hyperbolic class warfare, and the real thing.

  1. Okay, I don’t normally comment on political posts… It almost always gets ugly. However, I can’t help myself here. This is brilliant, David. You’ve nailed on the head the real issues we need to be thinking about as a country. I think when people see some of the statistics you’ve put on here, they don’t understand what it really means, but to me its flat out scary. We, as a nation, need to get out of this mentality that being poor is the fault of the poor. No, it is a consequence of things I won’t point out, because you’ve already done so a lot better than I could. The gap between the rich and the poor in this country… scary. Your bit on what it means to be poor, brilliant.

    Keep it up 🙂

    • I agree with Larry here. You are SOOOO RIGHT! I also want to point out what Larry mentioned. “We, as a nation, need to get out of this mentality that being poor is the fault of the poor. No, it is a consequence of things I won’t point out…” I decided to stop there because there are A LOT of things that could be added to that sentence to explain why things are the way they are. YES it is the result of something else, but I don’t believe (and neither do a lot of others) that it is a consequence. I believe everything was designed PERFECTLY. These things needed to happen in order to get to what much of the upper echelon consider the “perfect” society. Rich people can’t be rich without others being dirt poor. And I also believe that RICH has nothing to do with money eventhough it has been the deciding factor amongst a lot of things up until this point. It’s all about power. The power to decide and the power to control. I think, for the most part, we need to broaden our thinking on this subject. That doesn’t mean to believe everything you hear, but to allow certain ideas to enter your minds and consider the possibility that all things aren’t mistakes and accidents.

      Anywho…this was GREAT, Beem! I really believe you are speaking truth here.

      • Thank you, Nova! I think it’s a shame that we are so politically divided in this country. We started out on the idea that we all are created equally, after all.

    • Thanks, Natasha. I think there are poor who ARE gaming the system–just to put that out there. I just happen to find that less offensive than the ultra rich gaming the system, then complaining and vilifying the poor for doing the same. People are good, bad, or creeps, regardless of social class. The poor were, statistically speaking, born into that class through no fault of there own. And we KNOW that it is unlikely for them to escape.

  2. Very well-written, David! Many very thought-provoking ideas. You seem to put forth the notion, however, that the *only* path out of poverty is through government assistance (please correct me if I am wrong). It would be interesting to know how many ‘rags-to-riches’ stories actually resulted in government-assisted programs. I’m doubtful many did, but certainly am happy to be enlightened by the data, if it exists.

    • I didn’t intend to say that the ONLY way out of poverty was through government programs. The link to the Century Foundation study references what portion of people make it out of poverty, but I don’t think it addresses how. They DO admit that “for reasons we don’t understand” there seems to be “very little economic mobility.” I wouldn’t presume to know how people do it, but imagine there’s some study, somewhere, that’s investigating. Thanks for reading and commenting, Andre.

      • OK, thanks for clarifying for me, David. While I can’t pretend to know the myriad of reasons why there is “very little economic mobility” for those who are born into poverty, I submit that it is likely challenging for people who grow accustomed to difficult circumstances to imagine themselves capable of alternative circumstances. In other words, they may learn to accept that ‘this is just the way things are’ and not shoot for any kind of upward mobility. I have taught many students at the university level who come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds, and have often been surprised at how reluctant they are to do anything other than just get a minimum-wage job at a retail store, gas station, etc…even when I would SUGGEST to them other, better ways to earn more money. I found it very odd. For most of my childhood, my parents had very little money. There were many things we could not afford, including certain basic essentials, at times. However, being the kind of kid that I was, I wanted expensive things they could not afford. Now, I still want expensive things that I cannot afford – only less so. 🙂 So from a very early, age, I learned what it means to be an entrepreneur. I delivered papers, I mowed other peoples’ lawns – in short, I worked and learned the value of hard work and what it means to make an honest dollar. It is one of of the greatest life lessons my parents taught me and allowed me to learn on my own. So I guess that’s probably why I’m not a big believer in big-spending government assistance programs. Are some programs necessary? Absolutely, of course they are. But like the old Chinese proverb goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

      • I couldn’t agree more with your outlook. Mine is nearly identical. Like expensive things, but family couldn’t afford them. I worked, mowed lawns, served pizzas, ice cream, washed dishes, worked the food line in the dorms, etc. There was a time in my life I pulled 10 hour a day shifts at Barnes and Noble, then stayed awake all night, practicing cello, then went back to work at 7 the next morning to open the store. I won my first job that way. I’ve never collected anything from welfare, but have many friends who have. I’ve not known anyone who I believed was “gaming” the system, but know there are many who do. My politics lean left here b/c I fear the “group think” frenzy that takes hold in our country on social issues. I see how quickly a group like Acorn can be systematically dismantled, and celebrated for its dismantling, when I know in my heart that we ought not throw out the baby with the bath water b/c of a silly game of “gotcha.” Also, I bristle at the double standard, knowing that more money is spent on “corporate welfare” (subsidies) than social welfare programs, and much of that money is going directly into the pockets of the very people that destroyed so much of our economy in 2007. I try to understand both sides, but would prefer to err on the side of compassion towards the weakest among us.

      • I guess my biggest problem these days, regarding the political divide, is the way Obama and the media demonize success in this country. Yes, it is true that the income gap is disproportionate. I’m sure it is also true that some acquired their riches through nefarious means (including many politicians, some of whom have never been required to disclose their tax returns and never will when called upon to do so, as those same people demand Romney’s). HOWEVER, there are, I am sure, FAR MORE successful, hard-working millionaires who did it the honest way. And we should not begrudge them their success. We should ASPIRE to do the same! There was a time in our country’s not-too-distant past that success was celebrated and encouraged. I don’t see or hear that happening so much from our country’s leaders anymore, and it honestly is disheartening. It truly makes me sad and discouraged. You can’t just lump all successful people (and all corporations) into one big class of evil money grubbers who only stomped people out of their way to acquire their status. And is everyone forgetting that the more successful people there are in the country, the more tax revenue that generates for the country? I just don’t get it. And what about this talk of rich people needing to pay their fair share? Just by virtue of the very fact that they make more money, they already contribute WAY more in taxes – without more benefits than those who make and contribute less (i.e. they still only get one vote, they still use the same roads and bridges, etc…). Sorry, but I can’t resist sharing this rather over-the-top version of what I’ve just articulated here (don’t listen in front of little kids!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQpXybTnGVg&feature=my_favorites&list=FLf064wN-MuYh3Bw7Q7DsvjQ

      • Not so fast. I was sympathetic to just about everything you were saying until you said “they still only get one vote.” Go reread the Paul Ryan excerpt cited here. The richest of us are considerably more “equal” than anyone else in this country. Also, there are other things to aspire to than wealth. If we all held the same values, what sort of society would it be? Given that some values translate into jobs which earn significantly less, but provide some of the greatest services (thinking of charitable volunteering, say, Hospice), where would we be if everyone thought only of earning as much cash as is humanly possible? There is a difference in demonizing the rich and not celebrating success. Success doesn’t come only once you’ve become a billionaire. Demonizing that kind of wealth is popular because it is the clearest expression of greed people can wrap their heads around. Stack a pile of 9,000 of anything next to a pile of 2 billion and ask yourself why anyone would persevere to 2 billion. Try making a graph to express the disparity visually and you’ll get it immediately. You won’t be able to see the 9k on the graph. You won’t be able to see 200k on that graph. I applaud the success, but I don’t aspire to that. I’d rather spend a few more hours with my family, write about things people don’t really care about, and try to leave things a little better than I found them.

      • Not so fast, either, David – I don’t aspire to that level of wealth either, and I didn’t mean to imply that everyone should, too. I just meant that everyone has their own definition of success and when it comes to one’s career and financial standing in life, most of our lives could probably be made easier or better with a little more money. I imagine a lot of people who do find early financial success are in fact then able (and many do) to do charity work, not to mention the amount of charitable giving ($) they do. Obviously, we also agree that success is not simply measured by how much money we make (though it is the most tangible way the most shallow of our society use to measure it, especially when comparing their own to others. But anyway, just because you can’t even see the 200K on the graph, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for the person with 2 billion to have it, especially if they acquired it through their own hard work and perseverance. Do they need that much? Probably not. But is that for anyone else to decide, if it’s rightfully theirs? I don’t think so. Besides, who is to say a person or corporation with that kind of money doesn’t use it for good? Bill Gates gives away $1.5 billions a year through his foundation. Walmart has been the biggest corporate donor for a few years now. I guess I’m just saying a lot of people tend to focus on what they perceive to be the negatives (look at all the money they make!) while ignoring the good things they also do with that money.

      • You said “We should ASPIRE to do the same!” (I know you didn’t really mean all of us, but I’m not sure what you’re saying I, my neighbor, and her neighbor SHOULD do. But taken literally, you’re saying we should all aspire to that sort of wealth.)

        Look, obviously I admire Gates’ charitable giving, and obviously I’m not impressed with Wal-Mart’s, but you’re putting words in my mouth if you’re trying to say that I’m attempting to put forth the notion that we need a “how rich should people get to be” police. They built that, stone by stone. My point has always been that, when it comes to welfare, right leaning folks DO want to decide how much we give in taxes, or cut it completely, but they don’t want to hold the same principles towards subsidies. That, in a nutshell, is WHY those poor rich folk keep getting a bad rap. 😉

    • I was also afraid that my comment about ‘they only get one vote’ would be misunderstood, which is why I also provided the ‘roads and bridges’ as a further example. Obviously, as the Ryan quote points out, the rich can take advantage of certain things in life to keep more of their own money. I don’t exactly see how this is unfair, if it is their money to begin with, and they still paid more in taxes than someone who makes less money. But again, the rich still only get one vote and they still use the same basic services provided by the government the same amount as others. One could argue they use some of those services less, since they might opt to pay for certain other better services, since they can afford it. But they don’t have their own special roads, they don’t get extra special protection from the military, their kids don’t get special services in public schools (many of them pay taxes but don’t use the schools but then opt to pay for private schooling), etc…

      • They get the ultimate “special” treatment. They buy super pacs to shape the government into what they want. They bed lobbyists to shape the government into what they want. And then they complain that the government is taking their money. And that isn’t an inflammatory statement. It is the way of the world, right?

      • I’m not putting words in your mouth, David – my original point began: “I guess my biggest problem these days, regarding the political divide, is the way Obama and the media demonize success in this country.” Sorry if it felt like I was turning it on you – didn’t mean for it to come across that way, but I have been bemoaning the general political climate in the country this whole time, as I thought you were doing, as well.

      • Okay, sorry. I was referring to this, and thought you were directing that at me, rather than at the general notion in public discourse: “But anyway, just because you can’t even see the 200K on the graph, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for the person with 2 billion to have it, especially if they acquired it through their own hard work and perseverance. Do they need that much? Probably not. But is that for anyone else to decide, if it’s rightfully theirs? I don’t think so.”

      • Well, then – I guess it’s a good thing there are rich D’s and rich R’s – else the campaign season wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining!!! 😉

    • Well, but they pay extra for that ultimate extra special treatment, do they not? They don’t get that just because they pay more in taxes.

      • (starting to sound a bit like you do begrudge them their money…) 😉

      • Money, no. Influence? Yes. 😉

      • Hahaha. This was fun, but I gotta go! Later!

      • Yep. Hahaha. That was fun. I gotta go spend a billion dollars to Swift Boat someone. Later!

      • And that “special treatment” they pay for is usually for the basest, most vile political advertising on the right and left, which speaks so highly of their characters. Another reason we shouldn’t think too harshly of them, Andre?

      • Well, then – I guess it’s a good thing there are rich D’s and rich R’s – else the campaign season wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining!!! 😉

  3. This is all very interesting, but does not take into account the entire class of people who are poor and choose to stay that way on my dollar. I would consider myself poor, as I am drowning in debt and living at home. I am currently unemployed and not eligible for unemployment. The past few jobs I’ve had made me enough money to pay minimums on some of my debt balances, but not enough to move out. They made me enough money to disqualify me from any of the state aid programs, and enough money for the state of MA to require me to pay taxes. My tax dollars go to help provide for welfare of perhaps some people in need, but also some really lazy people, such as a good friend’s sister. This woman has four children – she had one every two years. Two years is the age when your food stamps amount decreases for your baby. This woman gets $800 a month in food stamps, which she often sells for cash to buy drugs and alcohol. She also gets a free cell phone from the state of MA as part of her welfare. Often times the food she buys with her food stamps she feeds her friends with instead of her children. My tax dollars also pay for her family’s healthcare, while I am required by the state to buy my own healthcare, to the tune of $400 a month. These programs keep her in poverty. What’s the incentive to get out? So, forgive me if I have little sympathy.

    • I hear you. But do you also know that your tax dollars go to subsidizing the very banks and businesses that caused the recent economic meltdown? They also go into the pockets of Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac et. al. People game the system on both sides, it’s just that the ones who are doing it on Wall Street are doing it in much larger sums of money.

    • Here’s a nice link on the subject of corporate subsidies which is often left out of the angle you’re taking. http://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-welfare/corporate-welfare-statistics-vs-social-welfare-statistics/

      • That is an interesting link, David. I found an interesting quote that stood out to me: “But when you steal money from the paychecks of working people, you hurt the economy by reducing their ability to buy the things they want or need. This decrease in demand damages other industries and puts people out of work.” This was said by the author in the context of tax dollars that go to corporate subsidies. It seems there are many Americans that feel this way about their tax dollars that go towards what they consider to be other wasteful government programs, too (I’m not specifically referring to social programs, though I’m certain many people do feel this way about them). What the author seems to fail to point out (perhaps he is just trying to be unbiased in his writing?), however, is that the driving philosophy behind corporate subsidies is probably along the lines of it being a good investment and there being a good return on the economy and in turn, for insuring future tax revenues, if not more. Look at the government’s GM investment, as a recent example. Yes, one can also argue that putting money in the pockets of the poor also puts money directly back into the economy, since they will obviously spend it, but at the same time, isn’t that a little bit like moving money from one pocket to the other? Those tax dollars had to come from someone else’s check, right? So it came from the economy and went back in – so where’s the stimulus? I found another interesting little tidbit, David, after reading your link. It seems as though the GOP is making accusations that the Obama administration is relaxing work requirements for the TANF program, the one that Clinton (reluctantly) signed into law. There’s a lot of stuff flying around the web about this, naturally spinning both sides of the story to support each party’s ideology, etc…quite amusing, actually! 🙂 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/politics/welfare-to-work-shift-angers-republicans.html?_r=1&utm_medium=email&utm_source=et&utm_content=http%3a%2f%2fwww.nytimes.com%2f2012%2f07%2f18%2fus%2fpolitics%2fwelfare-to-work-shift-angers-republicans.html&utm_campaign=1547892_209319_RNC%20Research

      • I’ll read these links. Clinton has said those allegations are untrue, but I’ve not researched that one. There’s only so many hours in the day. I will.

        Whether we call it subsidies, or the pejorative “Corporate Welfare,” you’re right to point out that tax dollars are spent on the left and right, politically. I believe in government spending in both sectors, and would be interested in reading what percentage of your dollar goes where. We love to defend taxes for roads, bridges, etc., but how much actually goes to that, and how much goes towards an F-16? I know the data is there, but, again, not looked it up yet.

      • Another interesting article, with an interesting definition of poverty: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/272081/modern-poverty-includes-ac-and-xbox-ken-mcintyre

      • One more point of view (on the supposed new TANF requirements, or lack thereof): http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/313350/obama-s-attack-workfare-robert-rector

      • Will read this too.

      • Yes, I read the Clinton statement, too.

      • As far as the recent economic meltdown, a great deal of it was a result of the heightened CRA compliance. When the government FORCES banks to give a certain number of housing loans in low income areas, and then those loans don’t get paid back, how do you blame that on the banks? Another issue is Clinton’s repeal of Glass-Steagull. There was a reason why loans and investments were happening under different roofs. This common misconception that my tax dollars are being given to Wall Street makes me a little nuts. TARP wasn’t a gift to the banks, it was intended to be paid back. And if I’m not mistaken most of those banks paid back the money they were loaned quite quickly (except of course Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who are now owned by the taxpayers and owe us over $100 billion dollars, and are now trying to sell bad loans back to the other banks). As far as the link that you provided – first, I believe the welfare to work part of TANF has been stripped out of the law by executive order. The rest of it offers pretty base descriptions for people who don’t have a real understanding of economics. Tax breaks for businesses are not corporate welfare, nor are they saddled on the backs of the lower class. And yes, the system in this country is broken, as legislators line their pockets with corporate dollars. Do you know how much money Harry Reid has in the bank? I’ve heard over $6 mill. He didn’t make that as a public servant, well not just from his salary. I do agree that the government subsidies in alternative energy are corporate welfare, but I think it must also be included that those were snuck into law as part of the 2009 bailout signed into law by Obama. The other numbers and points made by this article are not backed up by primary sources, so I would be wary to believe any of it without checking other sources, first, and finding out whose money backed the studies the author used to make his estimates.

      • You’ve packed an awful lot into this, and your points seem very one-sided.Can you offer a primary source which shows exactly where your tax dollars go to back up your claim that they don’t go into corporate subsidies? Also, what’s the point of how much Harry Reid has in his bank account? Nearly ever politician is loaded, as are the men and women in front of the cameras doing the news. BTW, it was the government who created low income housing areas in the first place by signing legislation which promoted racial segregation. If you want to talk about the history of bum deals which came through the government, I hope you’re prepared to check your partisanship at the door.

  4. Check out the documentary “the one percent” by Jamie Johnson. It is very good as it shows how little the rich even knwo about the people below them. They are so cut off from reality and yet these are the people that make most of the decisions of our nation.

    Jill Stein for 2012.

  5. Thought provoking article, David, and brilliantly well done. Where did you get the statistics that Germany, Canada, and Scandanvians are more upperly mobile?

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