Unregulated capitalism works — for the wealthiest among us

FROM THE LEFT

The 400 richest Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom 62 percent of us. And just the three richest of those 400, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, own as much wealth as the bottom half of Americans.

Stop reading and let that sink in.

Yes, unregulated capitalism works — for the wealthiest among us.

We now have the greatest disparity of income and wealth in U.S. history for one simple reason — the politicians in our nation’s capital have rigged it that way.

Income inequality will be one of the top three issues in the 2020 presidential campaign, and with good reason. Income inequality is bad for the economy and even worse for our democracy. For the past 40 years, it has been fueled by a devastating Republican priority to cut taxes on wealthy individuals and corporate America.

Since the 1980s, Republicans have peddled their economic snake oil, known as supply-side economics, which posits that reducing taxation on the wealthy will unleash waves of new economic investment, generating economic growth and higher government revenues in the process. It’s the ultimate win-win, except for the fact that economics doesn’t work that way and never will. Supply-side economics provides lackluster economic stimulus in the short term and huge government deficits and reduced public investment in the long term.

Remember that big corporate tax cut that President Trump signed in December 2017? The one that was going to send corporate investment in new plants and equipment skyrocketing? Sorry, that never happened. Instead, corporate America gave the money to their wealthy shareholders and used the rest to buy back stock. Oh, and the federal deficit has jumped dramatically as a result and is now forecast to hit just under $1 trillion this year.

Most Americans recognize that our economic and political system used to work better and, at times, even served the interests of average folk.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, we actually taxed the wealthy and corporations in America and used those revenues to build modern airports, the interstate highway system, and new public schools to educate the baby boomers, to electrify rural America, to subsidize home mortgages for those with sufficient credit or to build affordable housing for those who didn’t. The Revenue Bill of 1932, signed by Herbert Hoover, set the high income tax rates that allowed us to do those things and win WWII, the Cold War and still have a balanced budget.

When you hear a politician or pundit claim that we can’t afford to provide free public college tuition or affordable housing, to invest in green energy, or to provide quality health care to everyone, remember what they’re really saying: We can’t afford those things and still keep our billionaire financial backers happy.

And that’s where tax policy feeds into our democratic process.

One of the most appalling developments in recent years has been the rise of the billionaire political kingmaker, which is most pronounced in the Republican Party.

The Koch Brothers, the Mercers and the biggest sugar daddy of them all, casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, now virtually dictate the policies of the GOP through their vast campaign spending.

And, not surprisingly, those policies are focused on putting more and more money into their pockets through tax cuts and deregulation.

The interests of average Americans aren’t even a consideration.

The income inequality gap creates a nation of “Haves and Have Nots.” Some of the more damaging effects of the income gap are found in the housing market.

It has become virtually impossible for the young to become a home buyer.

The rich have invested in the housing market and driven the price of homes out of the reach of poor people. When a home goes on the market, many are purchased by wealthy speculators as an investment.

We have a lack of affordable rental housing in Central Florida, because investors realize that it is a good investment to own rental homes or apartments here. The more homes they buy as an investment, the more rent they can demand and the value of their property goes up.

Marvin Jacobson

 

 

 

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