Local view: Second American revolution over inequality not out of the quesiton
Could we have another American revolution? Does that sound crazy?
I really don’t think it will happen, but I sincerely believe it could if we don’t change our growing income and wealth inequity. Concern should not be confused with a move for total equality. Nobody has spoken of total equality. What is desired is a reasonable inequality based on contributions to society’s good. No one suggests the president and city street cleaner be rewarded equally financially. Inequality has made a mountain for the rich now and a mole hill for the working poor.
Did the French believe revolution could happen? There was grumbling about the nobles not paying taxes, leaving a disproportionate tax burden on the lower classes. That is what we have today, the disproportion in the U.S. having increased for too long already.
We have a new group of conservative voters who believe government is too large. Government regulations are an anathema for free marketers until they get stung as by Ponzi. We could get by with smaller government, but big or small, the government we have must be for all the people and not primarily for the moneyed folk.
The wealthy elite in the U.S. have become like French nobles; neither pay or paid their fair share of taxes. Money is always important, but it has become more so, favoring the wealthy who also recently received help from our Supreme Court.
Favoritism for the elite has caused them to pay an unrealistically low share of taxes. Tax increases for them would make the tax burden fairer for all citizens.
The Golden Rule still applies — or should. Don’t you agree? Three changes would help start correcting financial unfairness.
The first would be a progressive tax on capital. Money earned by hard labor is taxed. Money earned in the stock market is not equally treated.
Second would be a tax
(50 percent?) on incomes of over $1 million a year. Thomas Piketty in his book, “Capital,” states that the U.S. has kept tax rates low for high-income people and corporations, making it possible for them to use their windfall to finance political parties, pressure groups and think tanks, all of which helps them to keep their tax rates low.
And third, restore sanity to executive compensation. Occupy Wall Street was probably the largest and longest protest movement. There also were Occupy Wisconsin and Occupy Minnesota movements. The resistance came from people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing they had in common was that they were the 99 percent that no longer is tolerating the greed and corruption of the
1 percent. They encouraged non-violence. Hopefully, we will all pay attention and help correct much of the greed and corruption.
It puzzles me our media often comment on corruption in foreign countries. Do we not see corruption here? It’s odd that when commoners break the law, such as with illegal drugs, they end up in jail. Meanwhile, the bankers, Wall Street executives and others who brought on our last housing collapse and recession received no jail time.
We must unmask tax-
evasion frauds and tax havens if we continue to consider ourselves a democracy. Who should do that? You and me — by voting and getting others to vote for corrective action.
The 1 percent during one era in history couldn’t understand people who wanted child labor and 12-hour workdays changed. It would wreck their entire operation, they claimed. It didn’t. We need to wake up and smell the flowers.
Bernie Hughes of Superior is professor emeritus of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.