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Income inequality puts our civil society at risk; revenue enhancement is the role of federal government in response to the debt crisis.

2011-07-05

Newly published research indicates that cooperation and relative equality are new adaptations in primate evolution; they are partially responsible for our rise as a dominant species.  Cooperation has led to the dominance of ants and bees within the insect evolutionary order; an analogous cooperative meme has arisen quite recently  in primates.  As one article recently stated, “you never see two chimpanzees carrying a log.”

A recent survey has shown that income inequality in American society vastly exceeds the expectations of even the most conservative respondents.  When asked to estimate the current degree of income inequality and specify the “ideal” degree of inequality, virtually all respondents underestimated the current state of affairs and and specified an ideal in which there is vastly greater equality.

Studies have shown that income inequality has dramatically increased over the last forty years, to  levels not seen since just before the onset of the Great Depression.  From the  top 1% of income earners receiving  under 9% of the total income in the late sixties, we have gone to  the top 1% getting over 25% and perhaps as much as 50% of the total.  This state of affairs is unsustainable.

The result of this degree of inequality will certainly be societal unrest and possibly even civil war.  Even the most “conservative” respondents to the survey do not think that the present degree of income inequality is fair.  “Conservative” and “liberal” respondents agreed that the levels of income inequality seen in present day Denmark and Sweden are  preferable.

Societies with severe income inequality historically have fallen into serious civil unrest; an example would be the French Revolution and the insurrection in Haiti afterwards.  The result of the French Revolution was the judicial murder of the king and queen; in Haiti, there was  insurrection,  massacre,  and  200 years  of isolation and  impoverishment of the resulting  independent, black-ruled country.  In Great Britain, societal disintegration was prevented by government reform.

The only thing we can politically do in the USA today is close tax loopholes.  This  is  “revenue enhancement” rather than tax increases, which are  politically impossible now.   Enhancing revenue will  enhance the economy, so Republicans can be expected to oppose even this in the mistaken expectation that it will help them in the next election.

Revenue enhancement will not help income inequality in the short run.  At the next election, if  all elements of the citizenry regardless of income are informed and are allowed to participate, a large majority in Congress will demand further action, that  is, tax increases on capital gains, interest income, and corporate profits.  Once revenue collection has returned to the levels seen during the Eisenhower administration , income inequality will gradually return to sustainable levels.  The budget will coincidentally be balanced.

Enlightened society is fair society.  To be fair, income inequality should clearly reflect differences in ability and effort rather than societal status.  The era of kings and queens ended two hundred years ago; the era of robber barons ended a hundred years ago.  The era of CEO’s should end now.

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