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Inequality in America: Far Beyond Extreme

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/13/inequality-america-far-beyond-extreme

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They won’t go gently into the coming dark night.

Build the Guillotines, and full steam ahead.

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What Democrats continue to label as “bipartisan 1986 tax reform” launched the most regressive IRS Tax Code revisions in history (until Trump’s 2017 tax cuts outdid them). 1986 reform, combined with four decades of decriminalizing FDR’s New Deal regulations and programs (euphemistically called “deregulation”) have been major drivers accelerating income and wealth inequality with no end in sight.

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It’s the story that must change , what humanity believes about itself .

Our whole economic system comes from the twin illusions of Disunity and Insufficiency.
We believe we are separate from each other and that there is not enough to go around .

All for One and One for All .

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This is Third World Banana Republic territory. Where the Ricos lord it over the pobres and campesinos living in favelas and on subsistence farms actually owned by United Fruit and other Corporations. The only thing still missing is the favelas in plain sight. The US version are rural, scattered, and where meth labs and pill mills provide some income.
Until the majority realize, up close and personal, how messed up things are, nothing will happen until the twin singularities of climate change disasters and complete economic collapse arrive at the same time. Meanwhile…don’t wear masks, jam up together in bars, and spread C-19.

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From 1978 to 2018, CEO compensation grew by 1,007.5% (940.3% under the options-realized measure), far outstripping S&P stock market growth (706.7%) and the wage growth of very high earners (339.2%). In contrast, wages for the typical worker grew by just 11.9%. Might part of the problem?

The numbers are so great that to use percentages hides the problem. Time for MMT?

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We should spend the wealth, not save it. Excess savings amounts to waste, pure and simple. Resources that are created should be used, not hoarded. The ratio of wealth to total output is at a high, in other words we save more than ever, and it’s a total waste of resources, like destroying food or burning perfectly decent houses. It’s criminal. We waste the economic surplus we create, the society turns a blind eye as resources are hoarded and poured it into a garbage pit called “financial assets” where it molders and decays. The Flow of Funds report from the Federal Reserve shows “total household net worth”, meaning private savings, doubled in 11 years, from Jan. 2009 to 2020, up from $48 Tr (which is adjusted to $58 Tr by inflation) to $119 Tr. — Forget the numbers, it doubled, and that during a decade of very slow recovery and overall slow growth in output or GDP. So growth only benefited the highest earners, and growth bypasses half of society. Growth is a total deception for most of society. It’s a story about some other people, not about “us”. If $58 Trillion becomes $119 Tr in 11 years, why should anyone care or pay attention? Here’s a suggestion: the federal budget in 2019 spent $4.5 trillion. With the new $60 trillion in savings we could fund the federal government for 12 years and eliminate taxes for everyone except the wealthy. And after 12 years they would be wealthier than before. No one reads these comments, maybe Bob Lord, thanks.

Taxing the rich is a good idea, but not adequate. In no reasonable sense does any person “own” whatever anyone understands to be represented by trillions or billions or even millions of dollars.

Money is an artifice, built of symbols and presumptions of meaning. It has utility because we do not trust each other, largely, and we cannot cause that trust to happen by fiat.

But to manage that utility, you cannot allow your enemies to control your system of accounting. As long as you do not have on the board at the Fed, dollars will be administered against your interests.

Public opinion has some hold on public policy in sort of the same way that populations influence the decisions of a theocracy: the faithful must continue to believe.

In the relative absence of actual cooperation, maybe we should wean ourselves from the dollar as a medium of exchange by substituting local or regional or limited or at least alternative currencies in which the power to bring currency into existence is distributed rather than held by a for-profit institution and in which a demurrage charge eliminates the capacity to earn by loaning at interest.

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