There’s some good news!!!! (and then there’s the news we don’t actually care about)

Hey, it’s a party! The richest, shiniest 400 families in America have gotten 5 times richer in the past 15 years!!!!

And OMG BONUS!!!! Their tax rates fell to the lowest rate EVAR!!! Couldn’t you just die??!!!!

Sources: Tax.com NY Times WSWS.org

WHEEEEE!!!! LOOK AT THAT INCOME RISE!!!!

Incomes Go Up!

YAYYYY!!!!! GO AWAY BAD TAXES!!!!!!

Taxes Go Down!

Total income for our top earners was $138 billion in 2007.  That’s up  $263 million from the previous year. They got an increase of 31%!!!  Yayyyy!!!!  they deserve it.

But how much did the shiny 400 pay in taxes? A mere $23 billion. Isn’t that JUST SUPER?!!!!!!!

Our top 400 Awesome Rich People made more in 2007 than the yearly output of most of the world’s countries; rivaling the GDP of Chile .

If the shiny 400 had paid their 2007 taxes (even at the 1995 rate) the resulting $18.4 billion would have covered California’s entire 2010 budget shortfall. Aren’t you just so proud?

Bill Clinton’s administration started the report back in the day to let us ROOT! ROOT! ROOT! for our rich. But the Grumbledy Meanies in the Bush administration shut it down. Leaving us without any way to know how super and shiny our rich people really, truly are.

And guess what! The wealthiest 1% took 2/3rds of ALL the income generated between 2002 and 2007.  But, ya know what? I think they deserve it.

They took 90% whole percent!!! But they deserve it.

Some Economy Guys named Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez  said income for the top 1 percent grew 10 times faster than that of the bottom 90 percent.

10 TIMES FASTER!!!!!!!!

And don’t we all think that’s just FANTASTIC?!!!

Okay, okay, not be a Debbie Downer, but I did promise that other news (we don’t really care about anyway)

It seems the whiny old states think they might have needed those tax dollars. Pouty Pusses.

Center for Budget and Policy

Those Silly Little Recession Numbers

Current.org
As states cut back their budgets, governors are targeting public broadcasting along with other educational and arts programs. Some stations could face a total funding loss.

But really who needs that stuff anyway? That’s all just local musicians and news and artists. We don’t need to know what they are doing, as long as the rich can get richer. Right?

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
At least 44 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted budget cuts that will affect services for children, the elderly, the disabled, and families, as well as the quality of education and access to higher education.

Look, I know it’s tough. But if you are old or disabled, you are going to die soon anyway. And frankly that might be a blessing, because you aren’t pretty to look at in that condition either.

But if you are young and uneducated, the rich are always looking for somebody to trim hedges or cut the grass, you’ll get by. Heck, I bet you could get Timmy out of daycare and the SUPER SHINY RICH could put him to work in a trice!!!

Little fingers like Timmy has are just perfect for making those big expensive wool rugs the rich like to hang on their walls. It takes patience though, so tell Timmy to work steady or there will be no gruel for dinner. Wait…… that’s right. The rule is one meal a day.

Bonus!!!! Timmy won’t have to eat gruel for dinner, cause there’s no dinner!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Don’t we just owe the Rich EVERYTHING?

One could just SWOON…..

Swooning

Swooning

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Paraphrasing Stack, Quoting Gandhi

In the best of all possible worlds our higher selves would exist in perfect synchronization with our highest ideals. But in the real world there is no one who can pass the litmus test of: People whose ideas fall into perfect moral alignment with their actions.

Consider that our Constitution was written by men who espoused freedom for all, yet many of them owned human beings who were kidnapped from their homes and forced to work as slaves.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was known to have plagiarized large parts of another man’s work in the creation of his thesis. And, like many prominent men, he had a series of illicit relationships outside of his marriage.

Gandhi, in discussing methods of resistance against the British, suggested that rather than accept oppression and tyranny that people would be better off standing fast and fighting by force of arms.

Yet we are able to look past these base facts to see the higher truths these people espoused.

Every one who is human does something that has the potential to directly nullify a morally upright stance they take. If we are human, we are flawed. Those flaws in no way minimize the higher truths that move through us. If we are to live honestly, we can condemn the wrongness of an action without detracting from the rightness of an ideal.

That is precisely why our Constitution was such a brilliant creation. It is a document of higher truths, never falling to the level of merely human; rife with frailties and flaws. It cannot seek to rule or oppress those adhering to the tenets contained within it. It is made up of ideas separated from the base qualities of a flawed humanity. I suspect that separation is exactly what the framers intended.

The larger point of my discussion of ideas and ideals versus base human action leads me to the tragedy of Joe Stack. Joe Stack, by all accounts, was well-off enough that he owned his own plane, a large house and his own independent business.

Joe Stack was not poverty stricken. Unlike the truly destitute, he seemingly had choices. So we may never be able to say, with any degree of certainty, what led him to his final decision. All we are able to say with any certainty is he was angry and in that anger made a series of irrevocable, horribly damaging choices.

In considering his last words, I am in no way suggesting Joe Stack was a Jefferson, nor a Washington nor Gandhi, nor King. I am suggesting, instead, that the themes he touched on in his statement have an urgency and validity that should be considered outside the final misguided actions he chose to undertake.

Most psychologists will tell you that fear typically leads to one of two reactions: withdrawal or acting out. Joe Stack acted out. He channeled his fear into anger and he channeled his anger outward, ostensibly against a government agency. But in reality he acted against the very people he claimed to sympathize with: middle class and lower class workers. And that is where his ideals and his actions diverged and lost moral coherence.

What was Joe Stack afraid of? He was afraid of the same things many, many Americans fear in these uncertain times: We fear losing everything we have spent our lives working for. We fear that our country has lost its moral center. We are afraid that the people we have entrusted our lives and livelihoods to, namely our government, does not have our best interest in mind.

Ultimately, we are afraid of discovering the game has always been rigged in favor of the rich and powerful. And it is a game we fear we could have never won; no matter how hard we worked, no matter how upright and earnest our efforts.

Paraphrasing Joe Stack:

-The middle class are having the fruits of their labors stolen from them. The upper classes are benefiting directly from this theft.

-There is a deep disconnect between what we are indoctrinated to believe about the values America is said to stand for and the sad reality of the actions America takes in the name of those values.

-Our government has made promises to the most vulnerable in our society, yet the system continues to leave many of them helpless, even as it helps those who do not need it.

-Our tax system has become Draconian in its complexity. This complexity serves the rich and connected. It has never served the weak and helpless.

– As long as we continue to accept what is happening, it will keep happening.

Interestingly, this last sentiment echoes Gandhi’s assertion that the people’s acceptance of tyranny allows it to continue.

Like Gandhi, I think violence is the less effective choice for dealing with oppressors and tyrants. Gandhi felt the morally upright way and the one requiring the greatest courage was to resist solely by nonviolent means.

Gandhi said it best with this statement: “I believe that no government can exist for a single moment without the cooperation of the people, willing or forced, and if people suddenly withdraw their cooperation in every detail, the government will come to a standstill.”

Change requires deep desire, it requires sacrifice. It does not require violence. Therein lay Joe Stack’s fatal flaw.

Hard Times Across America

The first story is from early in the year. As you can see from the subsequent items, things did not improve over the summer.

6 out of 10 people are living paycheck to paycheck

1 in 8 using food stamps

Hunger in US at 14 year high

Having grown up in a single parent household, I understand the stresses of putting off necessary things until payday. And for that reason, I am glad to see that people are utilizing the services that their tax dollars have paid for over the years.

As I was growing up, my mother would not consider accepting “welfare” under any circumstances. Suffering the many stigmas of poverty, the further humiliation of stooping to ask for “welfare” was beyond what my mother could accept. But there were times when more food or something a little more varied than Fried Fatback Biscuits for dinner would have been looked on as a positive thing.

But to offer a fair and balanced view (and actually do it with a straight face), I’ll include this quote from the Hunger story:

“Very few of these people are hungry,” said Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they lose jobs, they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it’s a far cry from a hunger crisis.”

Down the road, a problematic convergence is coming into view. More unemployed means less taxes paid. More unemployed also means more people utilizing the system paid for with tax dollars.

A few brave souls have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, who seem to be the only ones benefitting from Reagan’s deregulation orgy of the 80’s. I was glad to see a War Tax put on the table by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey.

If they limit the taxation to those who have supported the war(s) or those who have profited from them, I’d get myself elected just so I could see it passed.