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Have We Hit Peak Wealth Inequality?


#1

Have We Hit Peak Wealth Inequality?

Chuck Collins

When should we be alarmed about so much wealth in so few hands?

The Great Recession and its anemic recovery only deepened the economic inequality that’s drawn so much attention in its wake. Nearly all wealth and income gains since then have flowed to the top one-tenth of America’s richest 1 percent.


#2

When rural roadside Georgians start serving BBQ Walton on a stick alongside their famous boiled peanuts it will be a sign that wealth inequality has peaked.


#4

I love the graphic and the succinct nature of this article. It is clear to those who have eyes to see. Unless we get more people outraged we're going to end up in a tighter spot; it's really horrifying the lust of these people for $$$ and their takeover of our government via campaign financing. They are coming after our education system too. My husband and I wrote this book on their weapons of mass deception used to get the hearts and souls of our children. http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/


#5

Conservatives have taken over in Argentina and no doubt much of the work of the late Nestor and Christina left-populist Peronists in reversing wealth inequality will be dismantled.

But the real news will be that this Sunday, in Venezuela, the right-wing is expected to win a majority in the National Assembly, and the Maduro presidency will fall soon after. The entire Bolivarian program which improved the lives of millions will rapidly be dismantled - and grinding poverty will return - any dissent will be dealt with through death-squad and gangster violence - like right wing Honduras, but on a much larger scale.

Of course, the US media, compromised NGO's like "Human Rights Watch" and those disgusting rich "political asylum" Venezuelans who came to my city and will soon will return home to celebrate, will declare a new era of "freedom and free markets" for Venezuela and the defeat of the "dictators".


#6

temporary suspension of my policy not to engage you, because you raise an incredibly important point for all those claiming a revolutionary politics (and I'm not saying you do or don't):
in every one of those cases, it was an attempt to conduct a revolution by the ballot box. And soon a large chunk of the o-called "pink revolution" will fail.

When people get squeamish about historical examples of bloodier revolt, this has to be the response to them. You cannot have a revolution until the fundamental social relationships of that society are altered for the longer term!. Chavez tried to prove--valiantly--that it could be done.

But the reality is that you cannot permit the old power to retain their wealth and standing and expect to achieve revolutionary goals. In every case you mention--and several more--the rich were permitted to retain their property, most notably their control of the media, which is turning out to be pivotal. So it's been years of manufacturing one material crisis after another, and then having your media outlets blame the revolutionaries for the crisis. Over and over and over again.

No one can stand up to that for years on end. No one.

So if you want a deep change in the US, pay close heed to these roll backs. They've worked here, too, with civil rights gains and other social progress being rolled back for the same reasons.

Sorry for the interruption.


#7

The tragic thing is that if the demagogues attain power (through provoking Russia, and thus using FEAR as a basis for winning support) there may not BE a next generation. Climate change, spreading wars, and the starvation & privation that are direct products of disproportionate tax obligations/laws threaten to do our species in.

Also, since not many citizens fully understand the true disparate state of wealth in our nation, some fall for the baloney served up by the Republican clown car in assuming that tax cuts benefit THEM, not the same group of plutocrats who have already consigned U.S. cities to third world status by neglecting to invest in rehabilitative improvements to declining infrastructure.


#8

Excellent points. Latest news is that Maduro is seeking the arrest of Venezuela's Heinz Company executives for ordering the deliberate shut down of food production lines to create shortages of staple foodstuffs to help "make the economy scream". It's all too little way too late.

P.S. I have no idea or memory of where or when your presumed grudge might be from....


#11

Nice work Elizabeth, thanks for taking a public stand!


#12

Good point. i logged in to note that Collins does not go far enough with his outlined proposals:

"Raising the minimum wage so all full-time workers can make enough money to live on would be a start.And overhauling the campaign finance system so the richest Americans can no longer dictate which political candidates will be viable is a crucial next step. In the 2016 presidential race, Bernie Sanders is the lone top-tier candidate who isn’t receiving massive contributions from what he calls “the billionaire class.” These policies may reduce inequality, but they won’t slow the concentration of wealth. Achieving that goal will require reinstituting the progressive income tax policies of previous generations. Given today’s economy, this should include a wealth tax on billionaires."

i was not going to use this language, but "You cannot have a revolution until the fundamental social relationships of that society are altered for the longer term" is correct. Collins' "wealth tax," even if successfully implemented in an amazing Bernie Sanders "political revolution" electoral tidal wave, would remain subject to exactly what you outline. Which of course is what is happening not just with civil rights gains, but with FDR's New Deal in the USA.


#13

In "The Prince", Machiavelli advises executing the ruling elite of any conquered city or province.


#14

It's one way, but Machiavelli's sarcasm aside, the bottom line is that everyone who takes a power that once belonged to someone else understands that the someone else has to go. In some way or another. I think it's why the rich are so afraid of us. If it was just the money, maybe they wouldn't be so scared. I think most of them understand that vengeance is often a part of the transaction, whether t should be or not.


#15

Yes. It's not easy to know when a reform is good enough or when it just won't cut it anymore. Most of the time, advocates for the former are people that are at least modestly comfortable in the prevailing system. They have something to lose, at least i their minds. Sometimes the latter maybe have too little to lose so we can get too reckless with the lives of others, just as our lives were treated as disposable.
It's hard to sort these out sometimes in ways that don't come across as self-serving.


#16

A problem easily solved by continuous, frequent, unencumbered, simple and easy to understand voter initiatives and binding referendums instead of a couple of unintelligible propositions every four years. Are you listening Bernie?


#17

We DID HAVE a "total collapse of the economy like 1929" in 2008 and the response of the Dubya and Obama Regimes was to commit tens of trillions of taxpayers' dollars (around $30 trillion to date) to bailing out the perpetrators of the collapse and creating an incentive for them to make the next crash even more extreme and requiring even bigger taxpayer funded bailouts.

The 1%'s vision of "hit the peak with wealth inequality" is the point at which they own everything and the 99% own nothing...neofeudalism in a nutshell.


#18

"The 1%'s vision of "hit the peak with wealth inequality" is the point at which they own everything and the 99% own nothing... neofeudalism in a nutshell."

And so many of us have such a hard time wrapping our heads around that ugliness...


#19

That is why I take issue with Collins' final paragraph where he says "America's skewed wealth is ONE of the most critical issues".
America's skewed wealth is THE MOST critical issue. Until it is reversed those 20 people will continue to determine our fate with respect to climate change, racism, and a host of other critical issues that many CD readers are working passionately and tirelessly to remedy. Obama's Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its sequels represent the point of no return at which the ball is over the fence as those 20 people race past third base on their way to home base where they own it all.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison summed it up when he said "its not enough for me to win, you must lose".


#20

Elizabeth,

The trouble is, "Weapons of Mass Deception" is already a fairly well known book by Sheldon Rampton published in 2003 and a documentary based on it of the same name by the late Danny Schechter. It was about Bush and the medias propaganda campaign in the run-up to the Iraq War crimes. So you may want to look for another title if you are going to publish it.


#21

There is no way that any set of timid reforms, like publicly-funded elections for example, can begin to alter the terrible political calculus that is implicit in allowing individuals to accumulate such vast fortunes. For example, I just read that the Koch brothers have established a 25-person opposition research operation to dig up information on progressive organizations that the Koch's many other groups can then use to harass and undercut the work of those organizations. Anything short of setting an overall limit on the total amount of wealth that any single political actor controls is going to leave the world completely open to the invention of ever-more clever ways of manipulating the public arena. We simply cannot have a democracy if a few hundred people have as much wealth as 190 million people. How could anyone look at the dismal history of regulatory capture for industry after industry, with revolving doors between business, regulatory agencies, members of Congress, and Congressional staff, and think that human beings are capable, even under the most ideal of circumstances, of coming up with an air-tight regulatory system that would restrain the selfish interest of the ultra-wealthy? If we don't address this fundamental problem straight-up, we will ultimately be wasting our time on any other reforms that we could conceivably pass.


#22

The 1929 collapse was believed by many historians to be a fabrication of the 1% to assume total power of the economy. The 2008 housing market collapse is now taking the form of something even more sinister, a theft by the rich of the poor of all colors. The bailout as pointed out by many economist directly helped shareholders and banks but completely neglected home owners, mostly the lower middle class and working class. Currently we are seeing a neo-feudalistic society unfold, one that cannot be ignored. I must agree with Chris Hedges, this is bringing out the poor white Americans or those that assume a white identity to commit mass shooting. The evidence is clear that either an obedient society is rising or a revolution is underway, I think its the ladder.


#23

Very simple. Make the minimum wage the maximum wage. For everyone in the world. No exceptions, no other income allowed. Then everybody votes on what the minimum wage will be and that's subject to what the country, the world and the biosphere can afford with room to spare.