To Strengthen American Democracy & Restore the Middle Class, Return to Taxing the Rich

Thom plus logo The Guardian is reporting that Trump's Postmaster Louis DeJoy basically ripped off his brother to steal the company they had inherited from their father. Sort of like the way The New York Times reported that Donald Trump and his brother Robert conspired to rip off their brother Fred's estate and commit massive tax fraud by illegally stealing hundreds of millions of dollars out of their dad's estate.

These rich men who inherited their wealth from their parents and then turned into, essentially, monsters are the best evidence we need for a meaningful estate tax.

Republican President Teddy Roosevelt pointed to this phenomenon, saying "The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and... a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."

Wealth and income inequality in America is worse than any other developed country in the world, and the well-documented result is a wide variety of social ills from increased crime and drug addiction to the destruction of the middle class.

Even worse, as the income and wealth of average people collapses, so does their ability to influence politics. Wealth inequality severely damages democracy.

When Ronald Reagan dropped the top into the income tax rate from 74% to 25%, and radically cut the inheritance tax rate, he set in motion a 40 year process that has devastated the American working class and made the top 1% fabulously more rich than they were before.

There was no shortage of rich people in America in 1980, but the high marginal tax rates on both income and inherited wealth, in place for two generations, prevented them from becoming morbidly rich. Reagan put an end to all that, so now fewer than half of Americans are in the middle class and the vast majority of Americans cannot deal with an unexpected $1000 expense.

If we want to recover democracy in this country, bring back the middle class and reduce a whole spectrum of social ills we need to push both the top estate and top income tax marginal rates back above 50%.

-Thom

Comments

avn013's picture
avn013 47 weeks 4 days ago
#1

Fully agree! The instinct of survival demands to restore middle class, which ideally should encompass an 80-90% of the population. The middle class is community's buffer towards suspicion, division and hatred. It can keep society united and strong to preserve life and liberty in order to pursuit happiness.

Taxing transactions (income, inheritance, buying & selling) to provide for the common good (education, health, investment in infrastructure and technology) seems the most efficient systematic way to build a strong, prosperous and wide-spread middle-class. For emergencies and special cases ancient Athens and ancient Greece had several alternatives:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_ancient_Greece & https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Taxation_in_ancient_Athens

Legend 47 weeks 4 days ago
#2

This Pandemic exposed the whole thing. It was very predictable. We became by far #1 in the world because we have millions of uninsured. Millions of insured with very high deductibles. Millions with no sick leave, who work even when sick. All spread this virus. Not to mention the homeless. Then we have a POTUS and Republican Party that calls it a hoax and ignores the problem. Now they want you to ignore the effect of this virus as we increase the debt by Trillions and the cities and states are just beginning to count the score.

James Campbell's picture
James Campbell 47 weeks 4 days ago
#3

Another way of rebuilding the middle class would be to incentivize creation of more worker cooperatives and employee-owned businesses. If the people who are actually generating economic wealth had greater control over how that wealth is produced and distributed, our middle class would be a great deal more self-reliant, prosperous and tolerant than it has been lately.

alis volat's picture
alis volat 47 weeks 3 days ago
#4

Sometimes the worst things that happen to you, turn out to be the best lessons.

We are using the "great divide" in our country as a means to teach and a way to force some much needed action. With the internet and movements available everyone can participate.

We must get the money and power back into the hands of the people, especially the poorest ones. Health care is another good place to start, and Biden is for a public option. Canada didn't get there without a fight with the docs and insurance companies. Here's a quick flow chart: CHC » History of Canada's Public Health Care

The Guardian is a brilliant resource. No surprise that DeJoy is another grifter, because Trump knows his tribe when he sees them. He will pick them every time. Even a public option will take some of the burden off the USPS. Let's hope we get one, while unburdening ourselves of DeJoy and Trump.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 47 weeks 3 days ago
#5

High corporate taxes are what built America. But, that's all gone now. Can't even take care of what we already have.

whatabout's picture
whatabout 47 weeks 3 days ago
#6

Hey Thom, it is early September and time to gather your flock for early and often voter fraud.

The dead cat vote,
Heed Jimmy Carter on the Danger of Mail-In Voting

‘Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” That quote isn’t from President Trump, who criticized mail-in voting this week after Wisconsin Democrats tried and failed to change an election at the last minute into an exclusively mail-in affair. It’s the conclusion of the bipartisan 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III.

Obama on mail-in voting.

Detroit: https://archive.is/rf5pi
Guilty in NY: https://archive.is/S8Y6L
West Dallas: https://archive.is/ZHGfh
North Carolina: https://archive.is/zuisT
New Jersey Ballots: https://archive.is/3t4VJ
Guilty plea in Philly: https://archive.is/AF2ZU
6 felonies in Michigan: https://archive.is/nyNuK
Chaos in NY: https://archive.is/pJdV8
South Texas Vote Harvesting: https://archive.is/Cxi71
Millions of extra registrants: https://archive.is/W8oOB

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPP7Dx8Yq5k&feature=youtu.be

Legend 47 weeks 3 days ago
#7

Comrade Whatabutt, Try reading up on the Senate bipartisan intelligence committee's report on Russian interference in the 216 election. Think that it will happen in this election? Where are the notes from Trumps private meetings with Putin?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/18/us/politics/trump-russia-senate.html

bobbler's picture
bobbler 47 weeks 3 days ago
#8

I think the top tax rate should go up to 90%, because the super rich are the root cause of the corruption destroying America. Oligarchs are a clear and present danger to democracy. The super rich consolidated ownership of the news media, and turned the news into propaganda, because the only news we hear is news they want us to hear. Then sprinkle millions of dollars into battleground states at election time, because those millions of dollars have replaced what used to be known as free speech (they control the outcome of elections, and politicians are basically puppets.. whether they know it or not, the funding puts them at office, and if they go against what oligarchs what the funding will dry up). It is naïve to think Democrats as the good guys and Republicans as bad guys. Both parties are under corporate money's control, and our owners have different management styles; we could choose bat shit crazy, or moderate Republicans (if it weren't for the bat shit crazy element, it would be much more correct to say we have one party, then not).

bobbler's picture
bobbler 47 weeks 3 days ago
#9

Methinks thou protestith too much, about mail in voting. I am in the process of voting by mail, and it is connected to my registration to vote. The real reason people are blocking vote by mail is because over 80% of Republicans are OK with regular (in-person) voting during a pandemic, while the same is true of only 15-20% of Democrats. This clearly amounts to blocking Democratic votes, which is the real election fraud here. Any system can be hacked, but when we have to register to vote, and provide proof of identity as we all do, I call BS.. Voter cheating would be a rare aberration; and a BS reason to support Republicans in their obvious voter suppression efforts.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 47 weeks 3 days ago
#10

Thomas Picketty recommends a top tax rate of 83%.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 47 weeks 3 days ago
#11

Please always entertain the notion of the "carrot and stick" in discussions of taxation.

Legend 47 weeks 3 days ago
#12

Never say 83% or 90% with out saying that Billionaires pay the same on the first hundred thousand or first million as anyone else. The 83% or 90% applies only after the first billion or so. It is progressive taxation, not flat taxation. Republicans never seem to understand that. What is wrong with this country is the 1% has all of the money hoarded and is not trickling it down.

rostasi 47 weeks 2 days ago
#13

The sources above about voter fraud are so laughably skewed,
that it would take far longer than one should give to the above
poster to point out the results and the disingenuous nature of
all of them. Concerning the story, for instance, from West Dallas,
our Texas AG, Ken Paxton, had racked up exactly one conviction
In their quest to root out voter fraud in Dallas County.
...and, really...John Lett Jr.? ... really?

djgilbert 47 weeks 2 days ago
#14

Perhaps even more simple than dangling a 90% marginal tax rate...

FICA contributions stop at $137,700 in 2020. Why not remove the FICA cap entirely?

Medicare has no cap so why not social security?

Other countries have no cap, e.g. Switzerland.

Not a total solution but is likely necessary to fund the trust fund.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 47 weeks 1 day ago
#15

Many great solutions above. But, does anyone here REALLY believe, even with a Biden victory, anything changes? I wish I could, but, I can't, given the state of willful ignorance in today's America.

I'll still vote, but to expect anything better than personal therapy to come of it, is a bit niave..

EVERYONE should vote. Maybe our rulers, the malignant rich, want, for whatever reasons, will throw COVID 45 "under the bus".

"Hope springs eternal"

Legend 46 weeks 5 days ago
#16

Nothing will change if the voters keep a Senate Republican Majority. We had a hope for change under Obama and then voters gave it away to the Republicans after 72 days.

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to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
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