Between 1989 and 2010, the top 1 percent of the population went from holding 30.1 percent of the wealth to 34.5 percent, while the bottom 50 percent went from having 3 percent of the wealth to having just 1.1 percent. That’s right: In 2010, 50 percent of Americans had 1.1 percent of the total net worth (PDF), according to the Congressional Research Service. The share of wealth held by the next 40 percent of people, up to the 90th percentile, had also dropped, from 29.9 percent to 24.3 percent. Put another way (and it’s stunning however you look at it), 10 percent of people have 74.5 percent of the wealth.
The median and mean household net worth dropped considerably between 2007 and 2010, but even as both dropped, inequality increased, with the median—the amount of wealth that half of people have more than and half of people have less than—dropping by 38.8 percent, while the mean—the amount you get when you add up all the wealth and divide it by the number of people—lost just 14.4 percent. That means that the amount everyone would have if wealth were distributed equally went from being 4.6 times the amount the person actually in the middle has to being 6.5 times that number.So: Prior to the financial crisis and the recession, there was massive inequality in America. Following the financial crisis and the recession, there is a Grand Canyon of inequality in America. For good reason, we talk a lot about how much of the wealth the top 1 percent have. We talk less about how little the bottom 50 percent have, but think about what it means that 50 percent of people have just over 1 percent of the money. Forget all the definitions you’ve heard of who is in the underclass. We’re on track to have “underclass” and “majority” be synonyms. And the Republicans have got a guy running for president who wants to speed the process.
No question that the Republican candidate wants to speed the process. The same thing applies to the Democratic candidate though.
Paul Jay says until police and their political masters are held responsible under the criminal code, it can all happen again:
from the transcript:
It’s been two years since the Toronto G-20, two years since more than 1,000 people were arrested, hundreds of them brutally clubbed and violently assaulted by police. There’s been a series of reports looking into the police activities. First the Ontario Ombudsman issued a report. Then there was a civilian report looking into the activities of the RCMP, then the Ontario Independent Police Review Director, and now the Independent Civilian Review into matters relating to the G-20 summit—that’s the report issued by the civilian oversight board responsible for the Toronto Police.
Now that all the reviews and reports are in, the question remains: have people responsible been held accountable? And can it all happen again?
But before we dig into all of that, let’s remind ourselves what the G-20 was all about. Let’s take one more look at the big picture.
The 2010 G-20 in Toronto was a declaration by the global governing elite that the economic crisis, largely triggered by banks and financial institutions, would be paid for by ordinary people everywhere. It was also a declaration that force and the violation of basic civil rights would be used against those who protest and resist bearing the consequences of a crisis they didn’t cause. The more than 1,000 arrests at the Toronto G-20 was a statement by the governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto that mass protest would be met by mass arrests.
As I pointed out in a previous report, the missing words in the G-20 declaration were higher taxes on the wealthy and higher wages for workers—both obvious solutions to the stated goal of fighting deficits and dealing with a serious lack of demand in the economy.
What the G-20 leaders did agree to was this: “[The] advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013 and stabilize or reduce government debt-to-GDP ratios by 2016″—we know that means cuts to pensions/social services and other austerity measures. We see this plan being played out across Europe and North America and other countries. The arrests at the G-20 were made in defense of this global strategy.
And now reports from the Ontario Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Ombudsman have made it clear: the police services responsible during the G-20 violated citizens’ right to free assembly and used excessive force in doing so.
There’s no evidence that a low capital gains tax rate boosts the stock market, investment, or the economy [New]
There is no sound evidence that cutting capital gains taxes to levels far below ordinary income tax rates contributes to economic growth at all — let alone enough to outweigh the significant economic cost of doing so.
- - Federal Reserve economists concluded in 2005 that the 2003 capital gains and dividend tax cut had little effect on the stock market: European and U.S. stocks performed similarly both after the announcement of the tax cut and after the tax cut itself, as this chart shows. As the Wall Street Journal stated, the study “concludes that the tax cut … was a dud when it came to boosting the stock market.”
- - “[T]here is no evidence that links aggregate economic performance to capital gains tax rates,” according to University of Michigan tax economist Joel Slemrod.
- - There is no statistically significant correlation between the top capital gains rate and economic growth (see chart).
- - As Len Burman, Syracuse University tax professor and former director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC), has explained of this chart, “Many other things have changed at the same time as [capital] gains rates and many other factors affect economic growth. But the graph should dispel the silver bullet theory of capital gains taxes. Cutting capital gains taxes will not turbocharge the economy and raising them would not usher in a depression.”
- - There is also no statistically significant correlation between the capital gains rate and the amount of real business investment.
Check out the other 9 things you need to know too.
Krugman wipes the floor with the two pro-austerity guests:
And the segment where Krugman detailed his view of the current situation to the BBC host:
UPDATE: There was another segment with Paul Krugman and an ex finance minister of Greece. It’s at the 6 minute mark:
And here’s the entire BBC program:
In a single sentence:
Private equity partnerships: a ‘socialize the risk, privatize the profits’ scheme.
Sen. Jeff Merkley and 11 other Sen. Dems want the CBO to score the job impact of the Super Catfood committee [New]
A group of senators today urged the Co-Chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to take steps to ensure that Congress and the public get an independent estimate of their proposal’s impact on jobs – and do no harm to employment in America.
Eleven senators wrote to the co-chairs of the committee, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Jeb Hensarling and asked them to send the Committee’s proposal to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for an analysis of jobs impact. CBO will already be tasked with looking at the impact on the deficit.
Senators signing are: Jeff Merkley (OR), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Barbara Boxer (CA), Bernie Sanders (VT), Daniel Akaka (HI), Bob Menendez (NJ), Sherrod Brown (OH), Al Franken (MN), Mark Begich (AK), and Frank Lautenberg (NJ).
“We must do more to focus our national agenda on job creation and restoring our middle class. With that goal in mind, we ask you to take steps to ensure that your deliberations about deficit reduction do not worsen, and hopefully improve the jobs picture,” wrote the senators.
The letter specifically asks the Select Committee to adopt two principles:
- That the proposals be analyzed by CBO for impact on employment; and
- That the overall package not result in any net decrease in employment.
“Over the August work period, we heard again and again how Americans want to get back to work, families want to regain lost ground, and folks just want the opportunity to succeed as their parents did and their parents before them. It is our duty to work to expand, rather than diminish, that opportunity. It should be the priority of the Select Committee,” concludes the letter.
The full letter can be found online here [pdf].
Like dday at FDL says, all 50 Senate Dems not on the Super Catfood committee should be on that letter. But then considering how most Senators don’t give a damn for the non-wealthy, 11 may be too many. Anyway, austerity’s economic impact must be shown. The cuts that will be proposed won’t be painless.
Some Elizabeth Warren from her Talking tour. Transcript from a dailykos diary:
“I hear all this, oh this is class warfare, no! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God Bless! Keep a Big Hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Those words are music to my ears. It’s like she copied the thoughts in my head!
But this is Barack Obama, whose idea of negotiating is to give away half the house before he’s even asked the other side for the bathroom sink.
Apparently Obama will propose that people earning more than $1 million a year pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class earners. That’s aiming mighty low.
America’s median income is about $50,000. The typical taxpayer at that level pays approximately 20 percent in taxes.
Granted, that’s a higher rate than most of today’s super rich pay because of countless deductions, credits, and loopholes – including, especially, their ability to take their incomes in the form of capital gains, taxed at 15 percent. That’s a big reason Buffett’s hundreds of millions a year are taxed at just over 17 percent — a lower rate than his secretary faces, as Buffett often says.
But a 20 percent rate is still ridiculously low compared to what millionaires and billionaires ought to be paying. Officially, income over $379,150 is supposed to be taxed at 35%.
And even 35 percent is a pittance compared to the first three decades after World War II. Before Ronald Reagan slashed taxes on the rich in 1981, the highest marginal tax rate was over 70 percent. Under Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Even if you include deductions and credits, the rich are now paying a far lower share of their incomes in taxes than at any time since World War II.
(Click for larger image) – From Matt Wuerker at Daily Kos