Over the past hour, Columbia University economics Professor Joseph Stiglitz—whom I’ve repeatedly stated, in past posts, gets my vote as being one of the most important people on the planet--published this brutally pertinent piece over at the NY Times’ “Opinionator” blog: “A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent.” For all intents and purposes, it blows ALL of the D.C. propaganda about “shared sacrifice” out of the water. It’s the type of piece you’ll want to keep close-by whenever you’re communicating with others about our corporatocracy and the current state of economic inequality in America.
Frankly, IMHO, his sentiments are more pertinent to our country’s social, political (at least from a “traditional Democrat’s” perspective) and economic discussion these days than those of just about anyone else.
IMHO, it is the must-read for Tax Day 2013!
A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 PercentProfessor Stiglitz’ facts and statements, especially as they relate to our ever-expanding corporatocracy and increasing U.S. economic inequality, which is among the worst of all nations, worldwide—and at a level that is already at an all time high, at least since reliable metrics were first developed to actually measure those statistics, in 1917--will be a real eye-opener to those that aren’t familiar with his work.
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ
New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog
Sunday, April 14th, 2013 9:36pm
LEONA HELMSLEY, the hotel chain executive who was convicted of federal tax evasion in 1989, was notorious for, among other things, reportedly having said that “only the little people pay taxes.”
As a statement of principle, the quotation may well have earned Mrs. Helmsley, who died in 2007, the title Queen of Mean. But as a prediction about the fairness of American tax policy, Mrs. Helmsley’s remark might actually have been prescient...
...No one enjoys paying taxes, and yet all but the extreme libertarians agree, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, that taxes are the price we pay for civilized society. But in recent decades, the burden for paying that price has been distributed in increasingly unfair ways.
About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent of their income in taxes, and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes…
… What should shock and outrage us is that as the top 1 percent has grown extremely rich, the effective tax rates they pay have markedly decreased. Our tax system is much less progressive than it was for much of the 20th century. The top marginal income tax rate peaked at 94 percent during World War II and remained at 70 percent through the 1960s and 1970s; it is now 39.6 percent. Tax fairness has gotten much worse in the 30 years since the Reagan “revolution” of the 1980s…
There’s some stunning information in Stiglitz’ post, tonight; but, I’m not going to spoil this for those that are about to click on the link, above. I will say, however, that he points out some truly amazing examples of just how extremely unfair (i.e.: unbalanced, and in favor of the one percent to a point where the current tax code is beyond being just draconian) our country’s tax code is in comparison to most of the rest of the world.
Summing it all up, there’s NOTHING "shared" about Main Street’s sacrifices—especially over these past few years—when they’re honestly compared with Wall Street’s greed, especially as Washington has baked that into our current tax code!
As Stiglitz notes, in the final two sentences of tonight's piece: "Society can’t function well without a minimal sense of national solidarity and cohesion, and that sense of shared purpose also rests on a fair tax system. If Americans believe that government is unfair — that ours is a government of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent — then faith in our democracy will surely perish."
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