Monday, March 12, 2012

The Problem

I ran across this chart, which seems to show a whole bunch about the trouble with America, in an article in that bastion of liberal thought, Mother Jones. But after you absorb it, allow me just a moment to observe that the chart shouldn't actually lead where you think it does.

A few years ago, I probably would have thought that these results mean we need higher taxes on the wealthy, period. I still wouldn't kick and scream about higher taxes on the super-wealthy, but I'd like to observe that, when something is this out of balance, the "remedy" isn't a bumper sticker.

In fact, we've seen over the past several years exactly what causes this mess. Our system, both the liberal side and the conservative side, is set up to achieve exactly what this chart shows. For example, the financial crisis. Banks for years made oodles of money creating cash from the ether on their black screens. They then made more oodles of money trading 'derivatives,' which is a pretty word for financial fraud. Then, they crashed the derivatives market and scared the beejeebers out of everyone, who bought their line that if we just bailed them out, it would 'save' the world economy. And although it was wildly unpopular, our government voted to turn over all the money to them. TRILLIONS of dollars of money that we borrowed from them, that we have to pay back, with interest, to them, so that we could give it to them, so that they could stay in business and foreclose on our houses.

In light of this, traditional 'liberal' causes, like welfare and social security, where the government pays people a pittance to buy their consent to remain happily in poverty, while the real money gets siphoned off to the top 1%, doesn't actually seem to do much to fix the problem, does it?

We don't need higher taxes on the rich. We don't need more welfare and social security. We need a system that isn't bought and paid for, operated for the benefit of, and totally skewed in favor of--the rich.

And the start lies right here--when regular people stop thinking that the system isn't as ridiculously unfair as it is.

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