Sunday, September 02, 2012

Republican Rigging Benefits Wealthy, Hurts Everyone Else

The fact that Romney may be viewed as wealthy doesn't necessarily pose problems for his candidacy. The challenge for Romney lies more in the fact that large majorities say if he is elected president, his policies would likely benefit the wealthy ~ Kim Parker, associate director of Pew Social & Demographic Trends. (Quote excerpted from the article, "Americans Say Rich Are Greedy, Dishonest, Don't Pay Enough In Taxes: Pew Report" by Hope Yen of the AP, 8/27/2012).

The following is an excerpt from the 9/2/2012 broadcast of MSNBC's Weekends With Alex Witt, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Host Alex Witt and guest Carmen Wong Ulrich discuss a new Pew poll that finds 75 percent of Americans believe the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Alex Witt: Now a new study that paints a fascinating picture of what Americans really think about rich people. Carmen Wong Ulrich is a personal finance expert and the president of Alta Wealth Management, so she's making people rich with that company.

As we get to this survey, it's from the Pew Research Center, it says people see those who are wealthy as more intelligent, more hard working, yet also greedy and less honest. Where does this come from?

Carmen: Well, here's the thing. If you break it along party lines... Democrats are much more likely to say that people who are rich are basically more greedy and less honest. Republicans are more likely to say they're intelligent and hard working. So it really cuts across party lines.

But a third to 50 percent of Americans said it doesn't matter if you're wealthy. That doesn't make you more intelligent or less likely to be honest. It doesn't matter at all. So it's a big number that said it doesn't matter.

Alex Witt: OK, let's get to taxes. This one shows, that when it comes to paying them, 58 percent said [the] rich pay too little, 26 percent said they pay their fair share, and just 8 percent say they pay too much. Anything here surprise you?

Carmen: No... Again, this split along party lines. 78 percent of Democrats say the wealthy do not pay enough in taxes. Only 33 percent of Republicans said the same thing.

Alex Witt: On the campaign trail wealth is certainly one of the big issues. What's the takeaway from what the study tells us... do you think this tells us more about how people view the rich...

Carmen: What it really showed is there is a belief that there is a huge income gap between the wealthy and the poor. 65 percent of Americans say that gap exists. The study asked, "do you believe the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"? Over 75 percent of Americans agreed. If you're a Democrat it's 92 percent, while if you're a Republican it's still over 50 percent. So, no matter what party they're in, people are saying America is changing and the rich are getting richer.

My Commentary: "Perception is reality", is one of the lines (I didn't quote) that Carmen used in commenting on this poll. I don't know if that means she does not believe the rich are getting richer at the expense of the rest of us, but I believe it is true. I know it isn't only a "perception", but that the facts show this is the case. I also agree with the people who responded to the poll who said the wealthy aren't necessarily more intelligent (50 percent) or harder working (34 percent).

But, if the wealthy aren't necessarily more intelligent or harder working then why are they getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer? Certainly, being wealthy is a huge advantage, as making money after you already have money is a lot easier, but I strongly believe the reason is (in huge part) because our economic system is rigged to favor the wealthy.

This is an assertion that I have been ridiculed for on a Conservative blog I used to comment on. One commenter even claimed that this assertion was one of the reasons I was viewed as a "laughingstock" by the other people who frequent that blog. According to these people, those who complain of a rigged system (like the Occupy Movement) are simply jealous, lazy and greedy individuals who are looking for government handouts.

However, as Liberal talk show radio host Thom Hartmann correctly points out (in a 10/26/2006 article), "what's normal in a free and unfettered economy is the rapid evolution of a small but fabulously wealthy ownership class, and a large but poor working class". Historical evidence shows us that (under normal conditions[1]) only governmental economic and social policy can sustain a large and growing middle class.

Pew also found that "63 percent of Americans say the GOP favors the rich over the middle class and poor"[2]. I think the results of this poll make it clear that most people realize governmental policy supports the middle class, and that the reason it is currently in decline is due to a rigging of our economic system by the GOP. Here's hoping that translates into a win for Barack Obama in November.

Footnotes
[1] The other method by which a middle class can arise is by, "a sudden change in the relationship between population and resources. After the Black Death wiped out more than a third of the population in 14th century Europe, the increased demand for labor drove up the price of labor to the point when a middle class emerged in some places. Many historians identify this as one of the factors that brought about the Renaissance". (Excerpt from the 10/26/2006 Thom Hartmann article, "There's Nothing Normal About A Middle Class").
[2] From the AP article, "Americans Say Rich Are Greedy, Dishonest, Don't Pay Enough In Taxes: Pew Report" by Hope Yen, 8/27/2012.

SWTD #119

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