Selling Out Middle Class America

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Normally, when I work on a guest blog it takes me some hours of research and writing since I type slowly and try to be as accurate as I can be. This one will be a little different because it is written mainly to refer you to the transcript and/or podcast of a fantastic interview with the investigative journalists Donald L.Bartlett and James B. Steele. The interview was conducted by Rob Kall, whose OpEdNews website http://www.opednews.com/   is one that I look to for interesting insight into the political issues of the day. The interview deals with these authors’s current book which is called: The Betrayal of the American Dream”.

Rob Kall’s interview with the author’s is lengthy and so rather than my usual effort to provide a synopsis and relevant quotes of a position that I endorse, I’m going to give you a hint of what this interview contains and the provide you the links so that you can make your decision on the author’s thesis and hopefully be informed on some very important issues for all of us. Readers here know I supported President Obama for re-election, but have been critical of many of his policies. This interview and the book that it is about, demonstrate that the forces at play in the rapid decline of the American Middle Class seem beyond the power of our government to control, simply because they are backed by an elite that not only finances election campaigns, but that has also dominated the discussion with so much false propaganda, that today’s politicians who were born later than 1960 are not even familiar with the reality of how much our economic landscape has changed. Because of this unfamiliarity many don’t even have the conceptualization that things used to be different and why they’ve changed so drastically. In that sense this is less about conspiracy and more about the effect poor education, corporate media and propaganda can accomplish. When I say that the problem is beyond government’s power to fix, it is with the caveat that if the issues presented here were first understood, then maybe we could combat them. In some sense we are all blind men, hypothesizing the nature of an elephant by touching different parts. This interview and the book it is about can miraculously cure the blindness and start the discussion on how we can deal with this 3,000 pound elephant in the room we call America.

I will mention two, among many, of the major factors in the decline of the American Middle Class laid out by the authors. The first is that until the 1970’s our Income Tax was really graduated to the point that government had ample revenue to do its job. The second is that one of the major revenue sources for the Federal Government was tariffs. It was the dismantling of the graduated Income Tax and the proliferation of trade agreements reducing tariffs (and tariff revenue) that have been major pieces in the shipping of jobs overseas, increasing our national debt and destroying what was the greatest industrial economy in the World. For me, a child born to politically aware parents, before the end of World War II, I’ve lived through this history and watched in dismay as these changes took effect. Most Americans though, except for those most prescient, have no idea of what was done, simply because these changes took effect before they were born, or in their early youth. This election past and the polling of attitudes that went with it, show that the majority of Americans perceive that they are being cheated, but often their perception of how, has been skewed by the disinformation that is rampant to the extent that they blame it on the wrong source. If you read either the transcript of this article: “The Selling Out of the Middle Class is No Accident” at this link: http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-Selling-Out-of-the-Mid-by-Rob-Kall-121017-79.html or listen to the interview at this podcast: http://www.opednews.com/Podcast/Applying-Investigative-Jou-by-Rob-Kall-120915-680.html

I deeply believe that it will be time well spent.

 

87 thoughts on “Selling Out Middle Class America”

  1. @Bron: Percentages are misleading, and “income taxes” ignores the contributions of Social Security and Medicare that the poor do make and which constitute 7.65% of their paycheck, as well as their unemployment insurance, all of which the rich largely escape due to the salary cap of $110K or so. You are ignoring the impact of sales tax and gasoline taxes, which constitute a significant reduction in the income of the poor and virtually 0% drain on the income of the rich. If the rich and the corporations had to pay the same percentage of their income as the poor must pay for ALL taxes, fees, fines, licenses, government tolls, or mandated “insurances” at ANY level of government, the budget deficit would be solved instantly.

    You are reading a purposely misleading author with a bias. And if you bothered to read even the interview this blog entry is about, you would understand the problem is NOT the budget deficit, it is the trade deficit, and the deals that have been made over the last four decades in the interest of corporations that are making America non-competitive.

  2. Tony C, thanks for your comments to me. Beautifully said! I have made just over $27K for the last 8 years, with no cost of living raises, and it’s been extremely hard; it gets harder every day. And to think that my tax money goes to bail out IDIOT companies, who have been so stupid they ran their companies into the ground, and then have the govt give them MY money to give them an extra pay boost for what they’re doing, just makes my blood boil. And I won’t even get started on the money going to stupid wars that kill people for no justifiable reasons, except that the rich are getting richer off peoples’ dying blood.

    I guess what I was thinking is that with it being the same no matter what, they wouldn’t have to be trying to make up lies to try and find more and more loopholes to keep more and more.

    But beautifully said comment, thank you.

  3. And according to Bob Ewoldt, “Letting the “Bush tax cuts” expire for the people that make over $250,000 will bring in less than $71 billion in federal revenues. Will that close our budget deficit? In 2012, President Obama proposed a budget that included $3.729 trillion in spending, with a deficit of $1.327 trillion. Given that deficit, $71 billion in additional money amounts to 5.3% of the deficit…Let’s say that we tell the quite-a-bit-less-than-rich that they have to share the sacrifice of our budget deficit, too, and raise the tax rates on everyone in the top 25% (anyone making above roughly $71,000). To take $1.327 trillion from the top 25%, we would need to have their actual tax rate be 25.77%, which means having a marginal tax rate of 43.89% for everyone that makes more than $71,000.”

  4. Walter E. Williams, of Town Hall writes that, “According to IRS 2007 data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent and paid 61 percent of personal income tax. The top 10 percent earned 48 percent and paid 71 percent of all personal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent earned 12 percent of personal income but paid just 3 percent of income tax revenues.”

  5. TonyC,

    For others to find/follow context in my posts is not easy at times, not even for me.
    In 1968, I had finished 2 years military service, and one year designing American air bases in Thailand, plus associated jobs serving the country’s expressed interests.

    So I said that, contrary to your reading, I was not informed as to the harm we were doing in Vietnam, and I presumed that the majority of those who were adults then and were not active protesters, also did not know the full picture. I had done my bit and more, so in ’68 I was rightfully, just as others I assume also felt, that I needed to concentrate on my life.

    Hope this helps.

    Next time, when in doubt, ASK. And I will attempt to make my context as clear as iced tea.

  6. Tony C.,

    “I think the huge payouts are just because they can, and the collusion of board members across companies…”

    I agree.

  7. @Elaine: I think the huge payouts are just because they can, and the collusion of board members across companies (I serve on your board and support you without question; you serve on my board and support me without question) to rip off the stock holders. The stock holders cannot really do a damn thing about it; their coordination is purposely made very difficult by the corporations in the first place.

    Boards treat public corporations like fiefdoms; the stockholders are the peasants and only those that own big percentages have any say whatsoever (often because dumping that much stock would hurt the options awarded to the board and officers). As a peasant you get what they give you, and switching to another stock will only get you the same song by a different singer.

    The insiders at the top won’t change the game because they are rewarded by the game with tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. They do not care if the company tanks or investors get wiped out because at any given moment they can walk away as financial kings set for life. If they felt like it, they could independently start another company.

    I do not think there is anything to hush up; they are just taking for themselves the earnings and assets that rightfully belong to the shareholders, but the shareholders have been duped into giving them the legal right to take whatever they want.

    It is very much analogous to our political situation; we elect people based on their campaign promises without any means whatsoever to hold them to those promises while they are serving their term in office. If they lied during their campaign and betray us in office, we have zero recourse. By the time we can vote them out, the damage is done, and we are looking at the next two liars.

  8. @Idealist: In the context of your post, I thought you were saying you protested the Vietnam war because you were out for yourself, and you thought others did the same.

    If so, that would be a cynical thought; believing that self-interest was the only motivation for protest, and not empathy for those lost or the casualties yet to come.

    If not, then I was mistaken.

  9. MikeS,

    And sometimes the CEOs, etc are just smarter than their board of directors. I know of one such case, but my lips are sealed. But hushmoney is there always as a factor to consider.

  10. OS:

    “Unless it is built in the US, there should be little or no tax credit. That is something I feel strongly about.”

    That is why the founders wanted to use tariffs to raise money. You want to buy a Mercedes go right ahead just know that you are going to pay a very high premium. Ditto a French jet.

    I only buy Fords and most of the appliances and HVAC system for my house are made in the US.

  11. Not all those folks who make big salaries are deserving of the riches that they are rewarded with. One doesn’t even have to be good at one’s job to earn millions in compensation. How many times have we seen CEO’s who tanked their companies leave with huge payouts? Here’s a recent example:

    Wall Street CEO Gets $6.7 Million Payout After Crashing His Company
    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/11/1176451/pandit-last-year-bonus/

    Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit was pushed out the door of his company in October after overseeing a precipitous decline in his bank’s value. Overall, Citigroup lost nearly 90 percent of its stock price during Pandit’s tenure. But that won’t stop Pandit from walking off with $6.7 million for his last year on the job:

    Citigroup said Friday that the former CEO, who resigned last month in a management shakeup, will receive an “incentive award” of $6.7 million for his work at the bank this year. Former president and chief operating officer John Havens, who stepped down along with Pandit, is getting $6.8 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The two men will also continue collecting deferred cash and stock compensation from last year, awards valued at $8.8 million for Pandit and $8.7 million for Havens.

    The company suffered a profit loss of 88 percent during the third quarter, when Pandit supposedly earned his “incentive award.” During his time at Citi, Pandit made some $260 million in total compensation, even accounting for the year he took a $1 salary during the financial crisis.

    Several Wall Street heavyweights have recently said that banks need to rethink the sky-high compensation they’ve been paying (which has helped exacerbate the nation’s income inequality). For instance, Morgan Stanley CEO called the financial industry “overpaid.” “There’s way too much capacity and compensation is way too high,” he said.

  12. TonyC,

    Now can you answer my replies to your comment dusting me down on the Ain Factor thread. Calling me a cynic and piling the rest of the worlds evils on my head was incorrect for one.

    Just to ease your work, I cite starting with your condemnatory comment.
    ========================

    “Tony C.
    1, November 11, 2012 at 9:58 am
    @Idealist: I was fighting for my own life in ’68, and guess you all are now.

    That is pretty cynical, to assume everybody is being selfish because you were.

    My personal way of life is not in danger from war, or Republicans, or Democrats, or Tea Partiers, or racists, or Objectivists, or anti-Muslim bigots, or Christian anti-science bigots. I will never need an abortion, I will never go to war, I will never attend a Mosque, I will never be a black kid that cannot get a job, I will never be an impressionable child in a classroom being fed a book of lies about Creationism by a State employee.

    Not every protest is about personal interest; people care about others as a matter of nature.

    I recommend the recent NovaScience Now episode, with David Pogue, What Are Animals Thinking?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/what-animals-thinking.html

    Primarily for the parts on empathy, sharing, aid to others in trouble, and a sense of fairness (and punishment or refusal to work under unfair treatment). In chimps, dogs, and even in lab rats.

    The urge to fair play, sharing, and mutual support is born in the typical human. So is the urge to fight against coerced exploitation. Ignoring the fact that both can exist together, and assuming self-interest is the only motive, denies reality and promotes strife by accusing others of acting on invented motives they never even considered.

    Either that or like the Aynish have done it robs the concept of “selfish interest” of all meaning and redefines it to mean anything you want, because even the altruistic acts of soldiers sacrificing their lives to save their unrelated fellow soldiers must be laughably defined as “selfish interest.”

    There is a difference. It was not immoral or cowardly to protest a senseless war that threatened to end or ruin the lives of tens of thousands of young male adults, even if you were one of the threatened. Would it be immoral or cowardly for slaves to speak out against slavery?

    Fighting against against unfair treatment and the selfish behavior of the rich and powerful that harms others is both moral and heroic, even if one is in the group being wronged.

    266 idealist707
    1, November 11, 2012 at 10:30 am
    TonyC,

    Nice kick that you delivered to my a55.

    Here I was, in my last sentence, trying to excuse folks for ignoring the ills of the world by comparing my own self-occupied self of the same era.

    And that is how my life was. No excuses given. I was a soldier because the system forced me to do so. I worked within the defense industry because that was where the jobs were. I designed an original management system which was approved by DoD to assume control of all building activities in the Pacific, because that was the project my employer asked me to do. I was qualified and did it. I also designed F-4 fighter and B-52 bomber airbases in country in Thailand.

    Did I give any thought to the justice of our Vietnam actions? Nope, And of course I did not protest—against what, I would have asked.
    So I was no better than the majority of Americans who were not aware, and did not demonstrate.

    My awareness began here in Sweden, and it was not at FNL meetings, but from reading the liberal newspapers and seeing Palme march with the NV foreign minister, and see the US call home its ambassador. And still it had to grow a dreat deal to get to where it is today.

    How you happen to be so well informed and self-righteous from birth, can you explain if you like.

    Cynical, as to what. Explain.

    267 idealist707
    1, November 11, 2012 at 10:42 am
    TonyC,

    Just re-read your comment again.
    Attacking my cynicism was imcorrect in itself. Being a subject of propaganda, and we were in ’68 as we are now,
    and being sunaware of those who have it bad is no reason to call them cynics.

    And then you proceed to add items to the pile, implying that I am willfully unaware of these ills is—–I can not find words for such crappy argumentation and abuse of me as a person.

    If anyone here is known for defending those illed by this evil world, then I am one of them very well known for that.
    My awareness is as good as many here, and I act on that basis also.

    The underdog’s fight is like a fire bell to me, and you must have seen it many times so far======
    ====================================

  13. TinyC,

    I agree that it was a fine comment that just about said it all. Especially that about sharing equally the pain of texation. MikeS was right.

  14. If we paid soldiers the way we pay football players we would probably have a lot more wars.

  15. Tony sez: “Higher tax rates create jobs, Lower tax rates encourage just keeping the after-tax money.”

    *************************************

    That is exactly what the Congressional study showed. Of course, the Republican leadership was outraged and suppressed it because it did not fit their meme. Fortunately, copies are now in circulation in the public domain.

  16. Somebody posted a comment on my daughter’s Facebook that asked a pertinent question.

    Why should someone be paid less for wearing a helmet to protect their country and way of life than somebody who wears a helmet to protect a football?

  17. @Bron: They will put more into retirement or they will go out and buy new equipment [so that might be a positive in the long run]. Or they will just pay their son or daughter more.

    There is a limit on both of those dodges. How about those that earn a million a year? Ten million? or 23 million, like Brad Pitt?

    At some point, people have to pay the taxes. Or reinvest in their business. We can and should close every loophole that lets them escape doing one or the other. Since both are beneficial to society and the economy, the government really should not care which they choose. It isn’t about the government getting more money, that is the wrong way to think about it. It is about forcing their money back into the economy, to buy goods or services or create jobs. Higher tax rates create jobs, Lower tax rates encourage just keeping the after-tax money.

Comments are closed.