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Soak the Rich and Save Our Infrastructure


An article in today’s New York Times online demonstrates that hundreds of billions of dollars can be raised simply by modestly increasing the rate of taxes that the top 1% of the American people pay.  The amounts are astounding: raising the top tax rate from 33% to 40% would bring in $157 billion a year.  Since the top 1% make $1.2 million a year, it is laughable to argue that such persons would feel a serious pinch unless they were already spending more than they were making.  There is a certain degree of pain involved in raising taxes, but if the pain is needed to fix our crumbling infrastructure, to give just one example of where we are falling short, then let us have the pain fall on the smallest percentage and those least likely to feel the pinch.

Such sentiments would carry the day in a moment if we were living in a real representative democracy.  How could the desires of the 1% outvote the needs of the other 99% ??  Simple.  Careful research examining the structure of our government reveals that it behaves like an oligarchy of rich people.  This research is objective, comprehensive, and convincing to any reasonably open minded person.  The conclusions are plain as the nose on your face even without objective research.

The reasons why our country behaves like an oligarchy of rich people are also easy to see: our system of campaign financing makes certain that only candidates who favor the needs of the rich receive any significant money backing.  On the Republican side, this is blatantly obvious, but on the Democratic side, the malign influence of big donors works subtly to temper the impulse towards aiding the majority.

Gerrymandering aids the Republican cause by diluting and concentrating adverse votes into contorted districts.  Although the voting totals favored the Democrats in 2012, they lost the majority they had held in the House.  The division of the Senate, with 2 votes for each state, large or small, also favors conservative states with small populations as compared to liberal states with large populations.  If the Senate were composed with proportional representation, California would have ten senators.

A combination of factors makes the House and Senate unrepresentative of the the mass of people at large.  The President is more a representative of the majority of all the people, although the Electoral College still introduces some imbalance.

A concerted propaganda effort by the rich, rabidly conservative Koch brothers in combination with a few of their wealthy friends has put the icing on this cake of deception, corruption, and bought influence by the wealthy.  For thirty years, the Kochs have been secretly funding groups whose sole function is to spread deceptive propaganda that hammers at the themes of libertarianism and government support of business aids.  Every kind of phony organization has been tried, from think tanks to speaking tours to panels of experts to radio hosts to direct mail advertising.

Every device that favors the aggregation of wealth by those who already have a superabundance has been used, and used successfully, but despite the propaganda and naked violence a few people have dared to speak out.  Our next President will face a persistent storm of counterpressure from the forces of wealth, and there will be no help from Congress or the Supreme Court.  The oppressed will need to be patient a few years longer, until demographic changes overwhelm the conservative districts that now reliably send reactionaries to Washington.  In 2020 or 2024, things will be different.  Maybe we’ll get the first Hispanic President.

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