Class Warfare, the Final Chapter – Part 2

(Return to the Contents Topics page.)

(by: Michael Pirsch, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis, Tuesday, 15 March 2011, cont. Emphasis added)

          Tax cuts are vital to the wealthy elite. They hate the federal income tax and have opposed it since its enactment in 1916. Beginning in the Carter era, the wealthy elite have been blasting away at what remains of their meager tax rates (that is, the maximum marginal rate after custom-made individual deductions). Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama all have participated in the endgame for progressive taxation. Obama has even gone so far as to reduce the estate tax, which only applies to about 2 percent of taxpayers. Ironically, reducing the estate tax has come to be very important to many who will never inherit an estate that would qualify to be taxed: the power of the propaganda apparatus again.

          There was a time when the wealthy elite actually paid substantial taxes. The purpose of taxing the extraordinarily rich is to prevent an aristocracy from developing and to maintain a true democracy, a feat Aristotle recognized as impossible in the face of great income inequalities. Now, after over 35 years of cut, cut, cut for the rich, we have the most powerful aristocracy in history, and they are waging war against the rest of us. If you follow the results of studies that show the disparity of wealth in the US, you will see the flow of money from the bottom 90 percent to the top 1 percent over the 60 years between 1950 and 2010. The statistical evidence of the existence of class war is the direct result of the wealthy elite’s ownership of Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

          Wealth is the value of everything you own minus debt.

Disparity of Wealth

In 1933, the wealthiest one percent of the population held 33.3 percent of the wealth. In 1974, the wealthiest one percent held 19.9 percent of the wealth.  In 2007, the wealthiest one percent held 65.4 percent of the wealth.

          In 1933, the bottom 90 percent held 66.7 percent of the wealth. In 1974, the bottom 90 percent held 80.1 percent of the wealth. In 2007, the bottom 90 percent held 34.6 percent of the wealth.

Federal Tax Rates (after custom-made individual deductions)

1974 Capital gains tax rate: 35 percent
1950 Highest marginal tax rate: 90 percent

2005 Capital gains tax rate: 15 percent
2005 Highest marginal tax rate: 34 percent

Average Real Income Change 1973-2000

Average real income of bottom 90 percent: -7 percent
Average real income of top 1 percent: + 148 percent
Average real income of top 0.1 percent: + 343 percent

Average Amount of Wealth Held by Persons: 2009 Census

Single Black Women: $100
Single Hispanic Women: $120
All White Men: $43,800
All White Women: $41,500
All Black Men: $7,900

Amount of Wealth Held by Families: 2009 Census

1986 Black Family Wealth: $2,000
2009 Black Family Wealth: $5,000
1986 White Family Wealth: $22,000
2009 White Family Wealth: $100,000

Full-Time Minimum Wage, Adjusted for Inflation

1968: $18,262
2004: $10,712

          There is a common thread running through these statistics: the events that have eroded our quality and quantity of life have been controlled and orchestrated by the wealthy elite, and they are not finished yet. The picture is one dominated by racism, militarism and corporate control of government – three vital ingredients of fascism. Post-racism, indeed.

          The story of class warfare would not be complete without a look at the behemoth military-security apparatus. A bipartisan Congress has passed draconian legislation during the past nine years that essentially leaves our Constitution with rights intact – at least, the right to own guns, and the unlimited corporate right to influence elections.  All totalitarian repressive tactics such as unchecked surveillance, imprisonment without charge, summary execution, the right to a lawyer, the right to know the charges brought against you and confront your accuser, and so on, have been [enabled] by legislation and presidential fiat. In addition, the military and military tactics and equipment have been inserted into local law enforcement, with the purpose of shutting off avenues of dissent and/or dealing with dissent by the use of overwhelming force (think Pittsburg G-20). We live inside a nation that has already built the legal and physical infrastructure (the latter partly contracted to Halliburton) so that hundreds of thousands can be pulled off the street in a single day, imprisoned without charge and denied access to contact with family and legal representation.

When Obama announced his creation of the deficit commission, he suggested all military and domestic security spending were off limits for discussion. If a candidate proposes serious reductions in military and domestic security spending, that candidate is toast. The pols whimper that it is political suicide to propose serious cuts in military and domestic security spending; not doing so guarantees the slaughter of millions – as we have seen in the Middle East and every other place our war-happy generals practice their craft.

The US empire has expanded to include over 800 overseas military facilities, ranging from city-sized bases to single building outposts in 63 countries – not counting the bases in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.[6] The US empire military budget including cost of war (which is not included in the annual defense budget) is over $1 trillion, slightly less than one-half (46.4 percent) of what all other countries on the planet combined spend.[7]

          The power the US military wields is felt in every country on the planet. The US military is “supported,” with hardly any dissent, not only by the Democrat and Republican members of Congress, but also, presumably, by over 90 percent of the electorate, if you count total votes in each Democrat versus Republican race for House, Senate and president. This one-party/war-party system has produced unconditional love of war and expansion of empire. Thus, a vote for Democrats or Republicans is an endorsement of empire. There is no question that the one-party system has consistently supported military expansion across the globe. While many of the people who voted for Democrats may be offended by a claim that their votes endorsed empire, that is the result, if not the intent, of their votes. Meanwhile, polls show that more than half of those polled do not support an American empire. Count one more success for the propaganda apparatus.

Perhaps you might remember the $12 billion “lost” in Iraq in 2002.[8] The money was shipped from the US to the Green Zone in Baghdad. The money arrived shrink-wrapped on pallets and disappeared. No real investigation took place, but why investigate what was already known? The scandal didn’t get much play in the media either. A lack of media play creates a lack of concern by the masses. That $12 billion could certainly fill a lot of holes in a budget whose deficit is tirelessly evoked, alongside a “perception managed” campaign against Social Security, in one of the last gambits in the 160-year-long class war. But promoting the general welfare is not one of the wealthy elite’s concerns.

(Return to the Contents Topics page.)

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