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Thursday, March 31, 2011

How much do they have to accumulate before it's enough?
Posted by Jill | 6:14 AM
While subbing on yesterday's Randi Rhodes show, Nicole Sandler asked, "What does this country look like when they get everything they want?" It's a valid question. Once they've eliminated unions, the various programs that consitute the social safety net, Social Security, Medicare, abortion, birth control, worker protections and environmental regulations, child labor laws and public education and college for all but the rich; when they get rid of ALL corporate taxes, what does this oligarch's paradise look like? She didn't offer an answer, because the reality is that when (and it's WHEN, not IF, because there is no one who has the clout or the willingness to stop it) the Republicans get everything they want, what it looks like is something we don't even want to contemplate.

I keep thinking it looks something like Jamaica during that country's worst economic times, where you have dire poverty living alongside massive fortress-like mansions, guarded with big burly guys and rottweilers imported from the states. If that sounds like paradise for the have-mores, they might consider the fate of reggae star Peter Tosh, who was murdered by a gang led by a man he'd befriended and attempted to find a job for after the man had spent time in prison. Peter Tosh sang of equal rights and justice:

Everyone is crying out for peace yes
None is crying out for justice

I don't want no peace
I need equal rights and justice (3x)
Got to get it
Equal rights and justice

Everybody want to go to heaven
But nobody want to die
Everybody want to go to up to heaven
But none o them (2x) want to die

(Just give me my share)

What is due to Caesar
You better give it on to Caesar
And what belong to I and I
You better (2x) give it up to I

(I'm fighting for it)

Everyone heading for the top
But tell me how far is it from the bottom
Nobody knows but
Everybody fighting to reach the top
How far is it from the bottom


Everyone is talking about crime
Tell me who are the criminals
I said everybody's talking about crime, crime
Tell me who, who are the criminals
I really don't see them


There be no crime
Equal rights and justice (Precedes each line below)
There be no criminals
Everyone is fighting for
Palestine is fighting for
Down in Angola
Down in Botswana
Down in Zimbabwe
Down in Rhodesia
Right here in Jamaica

...and was murdered anyway.

There are still people in this country singing the "rich people create jobs" mantra, even though corporate profits are at an all-time high and job "growth" is miniscule at best. There are still people in this country who think that if they Just Work Hard Enough they'll get into the club of people who have houses in the Hamptons and in Cap d'Antibes -- as if amassing that kind of wealth is about work and not about connections. There are still people who think that the remaining Americans who haven't yet gotten utterly screwed are at fault for the plight of those who have.

So the question that comes before what this country will look like when the right wing gets its way is how much money do we have to stuff into the pockets of the wealthiest before they have enough? You'd think we were there already:

What you see above is from a new paper issued by the Economic Policy Institute, which shows that the top 5% in this country now control 65% of its wealth...and the bottom 80% -- that's eight out of ten -- only hold 12.8%.

Les Leopold points out the hard facts of what is going on in this country:

  • The average real wage of the non-supervisory production workers (which comprise 82.4 percent of total private non-farm employees) actually declined by 9 percent between 1975 and 2010.
  • Meanwhile the top 1 percent saw their share of national income rise from 8 percent in 1975 to 23.5 percent in 2005
  • More amazing still, the wage gap between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker jumped from $45 to $1 in 1970 to an unbelievable $1,723 to $1 in 2006
  • Today after the crash, financial incomes are so enormous that in 2010, John Paulson, the top hedge fund manager, earned $2.4 million an HOUR (not a misprint), and his tax rate is less than yours

I'm not sure anything can stop this relentless march -- or this buy-in of still far too many Americans into their own doom. We know what the Republicans want, but the Democrats are feeding from the same Wall Street trough. What do you think? Is there any way out of this, or is the best we can hope for a painless death before it all falla apart?

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Blogger PurpleGirl said...
What will things look like? That's easy... check out the writings and photography of Jacob Riis (1849-1914). We just passed the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Factory Fire, any story about it will have lots of photography of the living conditions of the workers. Our houses might not look exactly the same, but I'll bet the looks on people's faces will be very similar.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's one thing I've never understood about people like the Koch Bros (worth $23 billion each, I understand)or the banksters: Don't they have enough? Why this relentless pursuit of more and more, at the expense of the rest of us?

I'm beginning to think Sitting Bull had it right when he said of the white man: "The love of possession is a disease with them." I'm beginning to think that this mania for acquisition and personal aggrandizement by people who already have more than enough is something akin to a disease, or an addiction...

And let's face it: the final stage of any addiction is never pleasant. But the addict never sees that....

Blogger casey said...
Hello Jill,

To answer Nicole Sandler's question of what the US will look like my guess is Somalia.

Anonymous Liberal AND Proud said...
What will it look like? Ultimately, it will look like every other that's overthrown despotism. Rich people hanging from telephone poles, starving pissed off masses, underfed children and chaos.

It will happen, cause it always happen. Unless the rich decide to nuke the population, ultimately the numbers of people will overwhelm the elites.

It won't be pretty, but I welcome it. It really was the only way the history of this country could have gone.

Anonymous Bluestocking said...
As PurpleGirl has already pointed out, if we want to understand what this country will look like in the future if and when people like the Koch brothers get their way, all we need to do is look back at our own history. The period of American history which Mark Twain labeled the Gilded Age (which roughly began in the 1870's and continued to have an effect into the early 20th Century) was a time in which the vast majority of the population had very little and often worked long house in poor conditions while a very tiny minority enjoyed the benefits of virtually limitless wealth. What's that old saying..."everything old is new again?" Ironically, it was in large part the excesses of the Gilded Age which created the conditions for the Progressive period and the fight for workers' rights...so the one consolation is the possibility that the Koch brothers and others like them are merely sowing the seeds for their own future defeat by trying to take this country back to the Gilded Age. One can hope, anyway.

Blogger bearsense said...
As Hobbes said, life will be "...nasty, brutish and short."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The economy will shrink until the income of the rich is equal to their expenses. If the rich spend 20% of what they make then the economy will shrink until its 20% of its current size. The economy is near its maximum size. It will racket down until it reachs its equilibrium. What I mean by racket down is that it will growth 5% then drop 10% and so on.

Blogger ickenittle post said...
We will be living in trailer park USA where those with the nicer trailers will be considered "middle class".

The rich are addicted.They will have to be forced to face it someday.

They will require an intervention.

Blogger Alvin said...
The answer is simple, they want it ALL! A journalist asked one of the 19th/early 20th Century Robber Barons what he would do if he had all the money in the world except one dollar. His answer was I'd get that dollar.