Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yes Please! Lets "spread the wealth around."


Now as through this world I've rambled,
I've seen all kinds of men,
Some rob you with a six gun,
Some with a fountain pen.

Now as through this world I've rambled,
As through this world I've roamed,
I ain't never seen an outlaw,
drive a family from its home

- Woody Guthrie, The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd


Barak Obama is being accused by the American right - McCain included - of being - God forbid!! - a socialist for daring to suggest it might be good to "spread the wealth around."

It has become normal in American politics to believe that any attempt to redistribute the wealth is un-American. But wealth is always being redistributed by any change to government policy. Raise taxes or lower them, cut benefits or increase them, charge user fees or remove them, regulate monopolies more or regulate them less, enforce safety standards or remove them, subsidize agriculture or bail out the banks - it all redistributes the wealth. The only question is to whom and from whom. All changes benefits someone and disadvantages someone else. As Dylan put it: "You gotta serve somebody. I may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but ya gotta serve somebody."

And American has been serving the rich - and the super rich - since 1980 (at least.)

Here are some interesting facts and numbers.

The past 30 years have featured a massive redistribution of wealth in America from everybody else to the top one-tenth of 1 percent (that is, the richest thousandth) of Americans.

In 1979, the top 1 percent of wage earners made about 9 times as much, on average, as the bottom 90 percent of the populace. This ratio had remained virtually unchanged since the end of World War II.

At the same time the top 0.1 percent made 21 times as much as the bottom 90 percent.

Since then - and the change started with Regan's election - the income ratio of the top 1 percent relative to the bottom 90 percent has doubled, to 19 to 1.

That's bad enough, but the most radical redistribution of income has been at the very top of the economic pyramid. The top 0.1 percent now enjoys a wage ratio about 70 times that of the bottom 90 percent! A transfer of literally trillions of dollars from nine out of 10 Americans to the top 1/1000th of the population.

This has been largely a product of conscious policy changes instituted by Regan, and Bush 1 and 2; Clinton did little to reverse them: changes in the tax code, in the laws that govern labor, in trade relationships, and in a host of other ways that have moved money from everyone else to the extremely rich, as surely as Pretty Boy Floyd moved money out of Depression-era bank vaults.

So maybe it time for "Change." But redistributing the wealth won't be one of them. Merely the direction of the cash flow. Lets hope Obama wins and indeed does "spread the wealth around."

And then lets hope that this rubs off on Canada.

At least that’s hope we can hope for.

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