The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930 Will Rogers
As Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today. The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S. But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.
But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years. In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.
I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest. When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?
I am adding a new category starting with this post. It is entitled “The Shrinking Middle Class”.
Here is one of the reasons why I am doing that. It is well into the Fall season here in the Midwest and soon all the outside work will be over. That means about five months of pretty much staying in the “cabin”. To ward off cabin fever I usually try to take on a special project for each in-door season. The project this year will be to learn as much as I can about the history of the middle class and the possible causes of its recent decline. ” More…
via Jack Welch: I was right about jobs report – Oct. 9, 2012.
Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, had previously contributed content to Fortune, but following critical coverage of his comments on the jobs report and tenure at GE, Welch said in an e-mail Tuesday that he was terminating his contract with Fortune.
In his WSJ op-ed, Welch suggests that the reaction to his criticism of “the ruling authorities” was something he would expect in Soviet Russia or Communist China. “Nope,” he wrote, “that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn’t make sense.” More…
I guess I am still fixated on the post from yesterday about how so many very sparsely populated States in the U.S. now have so much power. It seems that our country is quite out of balance right now as a result of past decisions. Maybe it is time to revisit some of that stuff. Being that I am the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread I will take a stab at this. If you want to call this the Walters’ Doctrine go ahead. I will take the blame for all of it. Here is my list of things that need to change: More…
We can get mighty rich, but if we haven’t got any friends, we will find we are poorer than anybody. – June 1, 1930 Will Rogers
I am totally embarrassed that it has been so long since I used any of my hero Will Roger’s quotes on this blog. He is my inspiration for sitting down and doing this on a daily basis. When I lose track of Will my writing tends to drift over more to the dark side of life. Our lives are just too short to live over there for long. So here I am back to talking about a quote from Will. More…
There is a great tendency all over the country now to be high brow. More people should work for their dinner instead of dressing for it – Will Rogers
This quote caught my attention because for the last few months I have been watching the PBS series “Downton Abby”. Here is how Wikipedia describes the series:
The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. The first series spans the two years before the Great War beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which sets the story in motion. More…
The difference between the rich and the poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells who gave up that million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from someone. - 1933 Will Rogers
This is one of the most provocative quotes I have in my collection from Will Rogers. Given the statistics that show in the last ten years that the wealth of the 1%ers has more than doubled while the rest of us have seen our wealth, if you comically want to call it that, go down. It is pretty much a zero-sum game. For the wealthy to get wealthier the rest of us must get poorer. That is just plain old economics. When will our government stand up for the common guy??
But what do I know….
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right.
Another place in the Bible (the Beatitudes) it says Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. James is re-enforcing those words here. The rich have exploited the poor before Jesus’ times and continue to do so today. Many places in the Bible tell us to focus on helping the poor rather than praising wealth. Will we as Christians ever really learn that lesson?
This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article peaked my senses. It seems the rich, who we give massive tax breaks, are aware that their kids will probably blow through their inherited wealth after they are gone. What a bind to be in! I bet they take all this planning and trustees as tax deductions. It seems very ironic that while most of us are just trying to stay out of the poor house, and in any other house at all, there are those who worry about the other end of the spectrum.
Instead of “cleverly written trusts” and “carefully chosen trustees” how about just letting them make their own way in life like the other 98% of us do? Who knows, maybe Paris Hilton would even be a productive member of our society if she had not inherited so much of granddaddy’s wealth. Up until recently (the 1980s that is) the government taxed wealthy estates so that a significant part of the accumulated money could go back for the common good. Our country was even established around the ideas that aristocracies are a drain on society. They thoroughly renounced the European version when we formed our country. In fact it was not long after our revolution that the French also rebelled against their aristocracy in a very bloody fashion. So how is it now that we do so much to retain our version of aristocracy that makes up the top 1% of our population but controls almost 50% of the country’s wealth?
OK, here I go again with the “Walters plan” for accumulated wealth. I know we can’t force the super rich to allow their children to make their own way in the world. But let’s treat the money they pass on to their children as “income” and therefore subject to the usual income taxes. To me income is income no matter where it comes from. If you get money that you didn’t work for and you haven’t paid any taxes on it is considered income to you. Another part of the “Walters Plan” is where we establish a more equitable income tax structure. Don’t tax the billionaires at a lower rate than the people who empty their trash. Let’s set a level of tax free income so that a person can get the basic necessities and then tax everything else at a certain rate and with no tax deductions. These big tax loop holes that congress seems to endlessly write for the rich, and for many others for that matter, are one of the reasons we are in the deficit hole we are in.
But what do I know.
The last presidential home we visited on our April vacation was the Hermitage of Andrew Jackson. I must admit that I had read various things about “Stonewall” before I visited and there was not much of what I read that I liked. After visiting his home just outside of Nashville Tennessee and learning more about him I can say I like him even less today. Sorry to all you Jackson fans but he was just not the type of person I would ever admire.
The Hermitage was a huge mansion compared to the other four presidential places we visited the previous week. I forget exactly but I think it was over 10,000 square feet and all of was decorated in total opulence. I guess Andy made a LOT of money as a lawyer and a plantation slave owner before he became president. Like other very wealthy people he loved showing off his wealth. Mr. Jackson was just one of several presidents who had a hyper-inflated ego. He was an “in-your-face” type guy and undoubtedly the most racist president we have every had. African-Americans along with Native-Americans were sub-human to him. He treated both with an almost total disdain. When he moved out of his temporary house to move into the mansion. He gutted it, took down the top story and then whitewashed it before turning it into slave quarters. He did not want his slaves to get uppity on him I guess.
The early part of Mr. Jackson’s life he became famous for his war skills and killing Indians. They say he had quite a love for his wife Rachel Donelson but the scandal of the day was that he jumped in and married her before she was even divorced from her first husband.
He was a president who enjoyed locking horns with other politicians of his day. His arrogance and bravado reminds me Rush Limbaugh except that Andy actually accomplished some things instead of just talking/ranting about them. He spent his political career saying that he was for the common man but didn’t seem to live his life practicing those words. The one thing I am grateful for with Andrew Jackson and some other presidents after him is that the U.S. did survive his presidency without too many setbacks. Although like the Republicans today he came very close to ignorantly closing down the country over monetary matters.
So, here is to you Mr. Jackson. It was interesting to visit your lavish home and get to know you a little better.
Next time I will be finishing up our April vacation with a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. No, not the new one but the one of Minee Pearl and her group.
And the journey goes on…