Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, Democrats Punt

shortest pathThe super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the education, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s.

And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all their benefits on the rich, continue.

Robert ReichDemocrats have decided to delay voting on whether to extend them for the top 2 percent of Americans or for the bottom 98 percent until after the mid-term elections.

Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades — the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top — and to make a start at reversing it.

When will they ever learn?

Robert Reich

This article first appeared on Robert Reich’s Blog. Republished with permission


  1. says

    Reich concludes:

    “Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades — the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top — and to make a start at reversing it.

    “When will they ever learn?”

    Reich has put his finger on the most demoralizing aspect of the situation. The most obvious if unhappy answer to his question is itself another question: “Do the Dems even WANT to learn?”

    On this issue the Gops get a free pass (i.e. no extra blame) from most of us, because they have already taught us amply that we may as well give up on THEM and presume that they are against anything we would reasonably want, simply because it is reasonable and we are us.

    And Obama (as versus some other Dems) gets a free pass too. Again he has shown us amply that he doesn’t have a clear affirmative agenda [except maybe to use playacting sanctions, peace prizes and prayers for more engagement – all in order to give Iran’s repressive terror-sponsoring regime the time it needs to get and use deliverable nuke weapons as well as continue to sabotage Palestine-Israel peace]. Nor does he have the desire to lead or enable a truly effective Congressional agenda – whether on the economy, on energy-climate-environment, or even on mundane matters such as timely filling of vacant judgeships.

  2. Roger says

    I don’t know why: First, People are surprised. Second, You are upset at them for knowing how to manage their money. Third, That they are paying less for our education.

    Our ignorance is mind boggling. History should have told us all that the people who want to make more money find a way to make more money. It is like this in anything. Why does it not surprise us that the people who want to be better surgeons become better surgeons, despite economic conditions? Why doesn’t it surprise us that the people who don’t act for better conditions for themselves and their families do not get better? It is one thing to do enough to pay bills it is another to sacrifice luxuries for the sake of personal longterm economic stability. Please do not deny that people were beyond their means when they should be living below their means.

    The rich are rich because their goal is to do something. If a company is not making a profit then it is not long for this earth. You can say good bye to all the jobs that its revenue provided for. The problems arise when companies behave just like people, going for the short term gain by bankrupting their long term survival.

    Since when is it the obligation of the rich to pay for our educate us? Even if they did want to we know very well that they would only pay for those who choose to do so. Yes it behooves them to have a literate workforce but when that workforce does not want to be literate, ie choses to drop out of high school,what is that 50% these days)then not only are the rich wasting money so are we.

    People, We have abandoned our values. Do we value hard work? Do we earn what we get? Are we looking to get something for nothing? Who deserves more, the one who does just the necessary or the one who marshals his influence to get something bigger done?

    We are at the crossroads where people will learn a fundamental truth about life, he who believes he cannot, will not; he who thinks he can, will. Are you surrounded by people who will support your struggle and your sacrifice no matter what?

    • BoudicaBitch says

      Are you freaking KIDDING me? You think most of the people in that top 2% lifted a FINGER to earn that wealth? Most of it is inter-generational or earned through investments, sometimes shady ones, and is most certainly not the product of a working man’s honest paycheck. Do we earn what we get, you ask? Why don’t you ask Paris Hilton?

      What luxuries have the people in question sacrificed? You are as clueless as those executives that flew their private jet to the meeting to ask Congress for billions of dollars of OUR money for bailouts. BTW, speaking of bailouts…is that what you mean by marshaling one’s influence to get something bigger done?

      You think the high school drop out rate is fifty percent? WOW, seriously…speaking of uneducated morons. You must have been one of those drop outs. Try EIGHT percent, jacka$$:

      Your wild overestimation of that one fact squares perfectly with what is so OBVIOUSLY your completely distorted sense of reality.

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