Sunday, September 30, 2012
By "low income" that means, for a family of four, $26,400 a year. Just so we're clear.
And by "47%" what we're really discussing is 18.1% of Americans not getting a tax deducted from their bi-weekly paycheck, just so we're more clear.
There's also sales tax and a tax on gasoline. Not demonstrated by either chart. Because clarity is important.
My favorite part of the Romney 47% soliloquy, well, there were two - there was the suggestion that he'd have a better chance to be President if he were Mexican, because some nice, gentle racism among millionaires is always fun - but my favorite part was the characterization that the 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income tax lack personal responsibility.
It's less that he shined a light on his own worldview; Romney pretty clearly takes whatever position is likely to curry favor with the audience to whom he's speaking, but it does give the temperature of the room. Romney, with a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, pays a lower rate of income tax than I do (my income approximates the amount those millionaires paid per plate to hear that Romney speech) and they all comfortably sat like the Congress of Vienna discussing how poor people (and I guess the elderly?) lack personal responsibility.
There's a disgusting show on the Food Network called Restaurant Stakeout, the premise of which is that the reason restaurants fail is busboys spend too much time on their smartphones. The bellicose host constantly uses military language to discuss the way a restaurant staff should perform their duties, and when sub minimum wage workers don't view knowledge of some crappy strip mall menu as their most important responsibility, he'll snidely say "there's the American work force for you."
That's Romney in that room - except for that room, that busboy is half of the electorate. What's the problem with the economy - all those lazy people just looking for a handout and wanting their handout giving President to dole it out. That's the core belief.
And it doesn't matter that:
The average annual earnings of the top 1 percent of wage earners grew 156 percent from 1979 to 2007; for the top 0.1 percent they grew 362 percent (Mishel, Bivens, Gould, and Shierholz 2012). In contrast, earners in the 90th to 95th percentiles had wage growth of 34 percent, less than a tenth as much as those in the top 0.1 percent tier. Workers in the bottom 90 percent had the weakest wage growth, at 17 percent from 1979 to 2007.
And it doesn't matter that.
From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.
We work harder for less; it does not stop, it does not lessen, our lack of income growth hidden by access to credit - and by tax breaks - and like cartoon villains these evil sons of bitches sit and chuckle about our lack of personal responsibility over $50,000/plate dinners at the Boca Raton home of a private equity manager at whose Bridgehampton estate:
guests cavorted nude in the pool and performed sex acts, scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms and men twirled lit torches to a booming techno beat.
Romney's not going to win, but the idea that enough of us buy that plutocratic rap that our economic lives are fundamentally dictated by handouts below and not that 725% growth in compensation above is gobsmackingly discouraging.
Tendown 140 is here. This is Tendown 141.
1. The Goddamn Plutocrats
One last thought on the Romney video - consider this piece.
If Romney and their ilk want to know why the rich bear such a large share of the nation's income tax burden to pay for "big government" these days, they should look at how they influenced big government precisely to serve their interests to concentrate wealth and income in ever fewer hands, to downgrade the middle and working classes, and to expand the ranks of the poor. As the rich never admit, they aren't really anti-government. They are for big government that serves elite interests and punishes the rest. When their so-called free market medicine – replete with giant doses of corporate welfare (the Pentagon System is a leading example) – impoverishes the rest of us (and enriches the few) so much that we rely on them like never before for the revenue to keep government running, they mock us for thinking (in accord with the quaintly idealistic Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that we are "entitled" to food, shelter, health care, clothing, and economic and social security We are instructed to stop our "dysfunctional" thinking about "Who Moved My Cheese," take a whiff of tough-love self-help smeller salts, and scurry on to sniff out new opportunities that don't actually exist under the rule of the nation's unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire: "Take 'personal responsibility' for your fate in this world we made for you, or starve and die, you bothersome little mice-people! You have no right to government assistance – that is reserved for the rich and powerful, like everything else." It's a curious command from those who have become ever filthier rich thanks in great part to big government's role in serving and protecting the already well-off.
2. Meanwhile, in South Florida
When I can, I like to bring you some local stories that are almost certainly never going to get national attention, but are representative of a larger issue.
I personally know two people who were fired so that their employers could avoid contributing to their health insurance. When you tie in health care to your work, not only does it give your employer the ability to treat you badly with the understanding that they control your access to doctors (this has happened to me) but if you use too much medical care, they can just let you go under another pretext.
Consider this story.
Told his kidneys were barely working, Martin Cupid had one thought: He wanted to keep his job.