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Top Romney Donor Admits He Wants You To Be Poorer So He Can Be Richer

Top Romney Donor Admits He Wants You To Be Poorer So He Can Be Richer

Imagine for a moment that you are vastly wealthy. Not month-long European vacation wealthy, but mansions scattered across the globe wealthy. Not maximum individual contribution to campaigns wealthy, but donate millions to Super-PAC wealthy.

What would you buy if no tangible item was off-limits to you? What would you buy if you knew that not a single member of your next several generations of offspring would ever lack for anything; that no matter how low the IQ or the grades, an Ivy League education is guaranteed; that even your children’s children’s children’s children will be guaranteed the seed money to themselves become “self-made” billionaires.

If you were Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, you’d realize that earned or not, no one needs THAT much money and you’d give some back in recognition that no one is truly self-made. You’d advocate a fairer tax structure, so that you would pay more into preserving the country’s infrastructure that helped propel you toward your successes. You’d give more to charity, not just for the tax benefits, but for the knowledge that you are helping those who are less fortunate.

If you were the Koch brothers or Mitt Romney’s former business partner, Edward Conard, you would buy the legislatures, so you can help write tax policy and laws that are designed to make you richer while everyone else is poorer. You would buy the presidency, so you would have a hand in negotiating trade deals while ensuring that the courts and cabinet positions are filled with people friendly to your cause. Because Americans might balk at the idea that a handful of people would be able to buy our democracy, you would buy the media, so the people could be convinced that it’s a good idea that protecting your own wealth is in our best interest. For those who can’t be convinced, you would convince your employees in the legislatures to make voting more difficult for those who might disagree with your agenda.

Is this view particularly cynical? Perhaps, but Edward Conard, a million dollar donor (so far) to Romney’s Super PAC, Restore our Future, as much as admitted it. From the New York Times:

Unlike his former colleagues, Conard wants to have an open conversation about wealth. He has spent the last four years writing a book that he hopes will forever change the way we view the superrich’s role in our society. “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong,” to be published in hardcover next month by Portfolio, aggressively argues that the enormous and growing income inequality in the United States is not a sign that the system is rigged. On the contrary, Conard writes, it is a sign that our economy is working. And if we had a little more of it, then everyone, particularly the 99 percent, would be better off. This could be the most hated book of the year.

Conard argues that the superrich are responsible for innovation, which is true to a point. They often are responsible for the funding, but not the innovation itself, but he neglects to mention that it’s generally the middle class who ultimately buys and therefore supports the innovations.

He even argues against charitable giving:

Which leads us to what Conard said was his next big risk — leaving the business world to make his case for a new, decidedly pro-investor way to think about the economy. He seems genuinely certain that his arguments in “Unintended Consequences” will persuade a fair number of economists, politicians and thought leaders. I suggested during many of our conversations that being a public intellectual might be tricky when you freely say the sorts of things that Conard often does. During one conversation, he expressed anger over the praise that Warren Buffett has received for pledging billions of his fortune to charity. It was no sacrifice, Conard argued; Buffett still has plenty left over to lead his normal quality of life. By taking billions out of productive investment, he was depriving the middle class of the potential of its 20-to-1 benefits. If anyone was sacrificing, it was those people. “Quit taking a victory lap,” he said, referring to Buffett. “That money was for the middle class.”

There is nothing either new nor innovative about the ideas that Conard is trying to sell the middle class. The debate is as old as feudalism and certainly as old as our country. Two of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, famously disagreed on the course of our fledgling republic. Jefferson advocated for a stronger working class while Hamilton wanted to model the country after England’s monarchy, limiting the power of the “underclass” while expanding the power of the elite.

Every few decades, the super wealthy attempt to regain super control. Before the Great Depression, we had what was called the Gilded Age.

During the “Gilded Age,” every man was a potential Andrew Carnegie, and Americans who achieved wealth celebrated it as never before. In New York, the opera, the theatre, and lavish parties consumed the ruling class’ leisure hours. Sherry’s Restaurant hosted formal horseback dinners for the New York Riding Club. Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish once threw a dinner party to honor her dog who arrived sporting a $15,000 diamond collar.

While the rich wore diamonds, many wore rags. In 1890, 11 million of the nation’s 12 million families earned less than $1200 per year; of this group, the average annual income was $380, well below the poverty line. Rural Americans and new immigrants crowded into urban areas. Tenements spread across city landscapes, teeming with crime and filth. Americans had sewing machines, phonographs, skyscrapers, and even electric lights, yet most people labored in the shadow of poverty.

To those who worked in Carnegie’s mills and in the nation’s factories and sweatshops, the lives of the millionaires seemed immodest indeed. An economist in 1879 noted “a widespread feeling of unrest and brooding revolution.” Violent strikes and riots wracked the nation through the turn of the century. The middle class whispered fearfully of “carnivals of revenge.”

In the decade before the Great Depression, the nation was in almost a constant rate of recession, but tax rates fell. Then, in 1929, when the marginal tax rate fell to just 24%, the stock market crashed. Because the nation’s wealth was largely in the hands of the investor class, so did the economy.

In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt increased the top tax rate to 63%. The economy grew, quickly. The problem of course, is that the superrich lost power, which ultimately, is even more important than money. The next few decades saw nearly unprecedented growth of the middle class. Unions were strong. Middle class families achieved home ownership, cars and higher education for their children, often on a single income. Sure, there were power grabs, but the general upward trend continued until about 1980.

Then we were introduced to “trickle-down economics,” which is exactly what Conard is advocating in “Unintended Consequences” and it’s exactly what we have been experiencing for the last 30 years. For Conard, his unintended consequences have been extremely beneficial. For the rest of the country, they have been devastating.

By now, almost everyone knows that tax policy has heavily favored the wealthy in the last three decades:

The top 1 percent’s share of national income has doubled over the past three decades (from 10 percent in 1981 to well over 20 percent now). The richest one-tenth of 1 percent’s share has tripled. And they’re doing better than ever. According to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal, total compensation and benefits at publicly-traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record in 2010 — $135 billion. That’s up 5.7 percent from 2009.

Yet, remarkably, taxes on the top have plummeted. From the 1940s until 1980, the top tax income tax rate on the highest earners in America was at least 70 percent. In the 1950s, it was 91 percent. Now it’s 35 percent. Even if you include deductions and credits, the rich are now paying a far lower share of their incomes in taxes than at any time since World War II.

While the rich has ensured that their own financial liability in our country is minimized, they have established policies have made the US among the worst in the world for income inequality. They dangled the carrot of home ownership, then took it away when the housing market crashed. They have raised the cost of higher education while making it more difficult for the poor and middle class to receive a quality pre-collegiate education. They are destroying the best protector of middle class incomes, unions. They are attempting to eliminate birth control and safe abortions, guaranteeing financial insecurity for generations of people. They are pitting working poor against working poor, so they, the wealthy and the powerful, can play the role of the savior. They are buying our government, one person and one piece of legislation at a time.

Conard’s “Unintended Consequences” are anything but unintended. They are intentional; they are real; and they are part of our dangerous downward trajectory.

via: addictinginfo.org


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