March 2013

Soaking the Poor.

by Pitt Griffin on March 27, 2013 · 0 comments

in Economics, Politics

Conservatives are waging a war on the poor. Their campaign is based on two claims. One that the poor don’t pay enough taxes and two that the poor are “takers” mooching off the state.

These lapdogs of the rich spring to their masters’ defense by pointing out that the top earners pay the bulk of income taxes, adding that 47% of wage earners pay no income tax. They claim that this is evidence of a government redistribution of wealth.

But the best measure of the distribution of wealth is the actual distribution of wealth. And by that measure the redistribution of wealth has been steadily upward since 1980.

Most Americans are not socialists. At every income level we believe that there should be an upward trend in wealth and income. That everyone who works hard and smart should get more. But most American also believe that the distribution of wealth – as they percieve it to be – is unfair.

And most Americans have no idea of how wealth is actually distributed.

Here are the actual figures.

Americans on average believe that the top 20% has nearly 60% of the national wealth – but should have 25%. In reality the top 20% has over 80%

The top 1% has 40% of the national wealth. The botton 60% has 7%

The trend for the rich is ever upward. In 1976 the top 1% earned 9% of national income – in 2009 they earned 24%.

And what about the claim that the poor are moochers? Is there really Reagan’s “welfare queen” out there or is like “Big Foot” – many believe in it but no one has actually found one. I am sure that there are some poor people that are perfectly happy to be on public assistance (as I am sure there are trust fund kids babies who are content to luxuriate in the family money). But if everyone who was on the dole wanted to be there, then why – when jobs open up – do so many people apply for them?

And what about people who have jobs? The last fifty years have seen a steady erosion of the wages of what used to be called the working class.

Conservatives, who decry the “takers”, ignore the fact that some full time workers at Walmart are eligible for Medicaid and food stamps. They mount campaigns to destroy unions and outsource jobs and then complain that workers with reduced wages aren’t shouldering the load.

They complain of all the people receiving unemployment benefits, but ignore that the surge in unemployment is due to a recession caused by 8 years of Republican policies and shenanigans by the big banks.

They complain that the Obama administration failed in its commitment to keep unemployment under 8% and that the pace of the recovery is too slow. The “fix” for the broken economy may not have done as well as advertised, but it wasn’t Obama who broke the economy in the first place.

It is hypocritical to design policies that redistribute wealth upward and then blame the poor for having no money.

Conservative portray poverty as a moral failing. They claim that America is a meritocracy where anyone can get to the top. That may once have been true – it is no longer. In America the likelihood the a child will be in the same income bracket as her parents – that the poor stay poor- is greater than in such “socialist” countries as France and Canada.

The moral failing is not in the poor, but in the powers-that-be, who have created a society where it is harder than ever to rise to the top.

I agree that too many people are on public assistance. But they deserve an opportunity to get a well paying job, they don’t deserve to get all the blame.






Gay marriage – The arguments for and against (actually there is no argument against gay marriage).

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  Fighting a rising tide of support for gay marriage, social conservatives resort to arguments based on wishful thinking not reason, faith not fact. One floated By Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage, is that rights are decided by voting majorities. This particular claim will be tested as the Supreme Court will […]

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March 22, 2013

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March 21, 2013

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March 18, 2013

Sarah Palin spoke at the the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She gave a well-received, folksy, somewhat puzzling, comedy routine of a speech. In it she took pot shots at Karl Rove, the President and Mayor Bloomberg. As a defender of big business’s right to make money by screwing its customers, she took a dig […]

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Whole Foods Demands that Products Containing GMOs Be Labeled – Industrial Food Isn’t Happy

March 15, 2013

Whole Foods will require all products that it sells containing GMOs to be so labeled by 2018. This is the latest round in the fight that started with the creation of the FDA in 1906 by Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt. In the ensuing years battles were fought over the extent and nature of food regulation. With the […]

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Large sugary drinks shouldn’t be banned – but you shouldn’t drink them.

March 13, 2013

The Cato Institute – the “libertarian” organization that promotes corporate profit under the guise of  individual rights – is delighted that Mayor Bloomberg’s latest effort to improve the health of New Yorkers was shot down by Judge Milton Tingling. Cato featured a piece by Walter Olsen, modestly titled, “Soda Ban Ruling a Devastating Defeat for Mayor […]

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Refusing the Medicaid expansion. How the poor are sacrificed on the altar of politics

March 12, 2013

As part of Obamacare the federal government is giving money to the states, so that more of the poor can be enrolled in Medicaid. Originally the expansion of Medicaid was mandatory. But the Supreme Court – although it blessed Obamacare in general – ruled that the Medicare provision was unconstitutional, which left the states free […]

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