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Capitalism, Socialism, Redistribution

By Ken Poland
Opinion | November 24, 2011

COLBY, Kan. - If readers go back and read Bob Hooper's A Message from the SEA Party, they'll find these snippets in Hooper's article: "Then with a wide grin, 'You think the millionaire ought to pay more taxes than the bus driver ... or less?' A thunderous 'MORE!' from the crowd... It's Obama and his class war .... W-w-w-wait. You're shaking your head. Not Oba..? Wha... Reagan? Reagan, a Marxist economic justice'er? Well, indeed. It was Ronald Reagan. He was speaking at Northside HIgh School in Atlanta on June 6, 1985, shortly after starting his second term."

And then a little snippet from an anonymous commenter named Jonathan in reply to Hooper's article, " ...take your anti-capitalism message and go home - before somebody gets killed."

I say, "Jonathan, did you forget that the 'great communicator' was a Republican capitalist? He apparently didn't hear or interpret the thunderous response of the crowd. Instead, he came up with his famous 'trickle down theory'. How did that work for you, or anyone else reading here in Kansas Free Press?"

The Republicans and right wing talk show hosts have had a hey day with Obama's 'redistribution of the wealth.' Are they unaware of the redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the top economic classes? If you are in the 200K or less category of income, you most likely have a smaller percent of the wealth, today, than you had last year. Your percent has been steadily declining for several years. What do you call that if it isn't redistribution of wealth? The redistribution is moving the wrong way for most of us.

Anyone who sees the rich folks stimulating the economy and producing new jobs, with their tax savings, needs to clean their glasses and start studying history! The Reagan tax cuts and the last big Bush tax cuts didn't seem to invigorate the economy for anyone but the rich. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. When less than 10% of the population owns or controls well over 50% of the nation's wealth and are exponentially gaining more and more, the economy for the other 90% is going into the tank.

We cheer the protestors and demonstrators over in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, ----, and condemn their government forces for trying to disperse them. Yet, here at home we send in the police squads to quell any unrest or demonstration.

Perhaps we need to listen to the core message of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, instead of focusing on the misfits and thrill seekers. The public media, that the conservative right accuses of being leftist and liberal, has headlined the negative actions of a few and ignored the real dedication of the leaders of the movement.


Well da gone Mr. Ken, I guess ya got me! My hero, the late, great, and imperfect Ronald Reagan made a onetime class warfare blunder that I’m sure, if he were still alive today, wishes he had back. Unfortunately, he’s not here to defend himself like Newt Gingrich is when Newt sat down with Nancy Pelosi on a couch to promote global warming.

Now, if you can take a break from the gloating for a moment, allow me to point out a Reagan blooper that had some real meat to it – one that involved his pen – not his words. In 1982, the democratically controlled Congress wanted to raise taxes. They promised Reagan that for every $1 in new taxes, Congress would cut $3 in federal spending. Reagan agreed to this and signed into law the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 . . . but he’d been tricked – the budget deal from the dems was a fraud. While the new taxes went into effect, Congress never cut federal spending by even a penny (back then, I was young, stupid, and didn’t even notice – I was still reeling from Gerry Cooney losing to Larry Holmes).

Ronald Reagan, along with Bush 41, learned a tuff lesson too late – NEVER trust a democrat when it comes to spending cuts, except when it involves the U.S. military.

FYI: OWS update – the disruption today is going to focus on Black Friday, targeting places like Wal Mart, a non-union store, and others. This movement’s anti-capitalist, anti-consumerism, message is now more than clear. With our economy in a fragile state, and Black Friday being one of the most important days in our economy, this is absolutely despicable. Ann Coulter is right, when the hard Left begins to protest, the “mob” mentality quickly takes over.

Well, da gone. Jonathan may be older, but certainly no wiser (but maybe more sold out.) Not long ago, he was trumpeting that scientists (by which he implied most of them) were predicting global cooling--a new ice age. In fact, only 10 percent were, many were undecided, but more than 60 pct were even then agreeing that global warming was occurring and that human activity (fossil fuel burning) was a key cause. That consensus has only grown. Today 97 pct. of credentialed, actively researching and publishing for peer refer agree. The real problem for the corporate set is that they're scared as hell they might be held accountable by "we the people."

Now, to the present. Hoping to capitalize on sound bites, those like Jonathan trot out the "class warfare" slogan of the Tailgunner Joe Days, and champion the rich as saintly and deserving of all they have. That's simplistic and deceptive framing. The issue is not about wealth but about FAIRNESS as opposed to GREED. The widening chasm in wealth and power makes GREED possible through purchased political control. Think Citizens United, think undisclosed and hence unaccountable political contributions

As Elizabeth Warren points out so eloquently, NOBODY earns anything all by themselves. NOBODY. They all depend on a favorable social/political structure...and the talent and sweat of others. So, okay, Jonathan, as Warren Buffet put it so bluntly, "Yes, it is class warfare, and the rich are winning."

"Jonathan" should cut the crap and provide his real name and address so that there'll be no mystery as to who pays his bills. What's he afraid of?

What's been happening in the last several decades is vital to understand for we 99 pct. Here are some figures as reported by the CBO in October.

*The top 1 pct. now take in about 25 pct of income, and have 40 pct of total wealth.
*Between 1979 and 2007, income of the richest 20 pct increased 10 pct.
*Income to the top 1 pct increased by 275 pct.
*At the same time, the total income of the lowest 20 pct of earners declined from 7 to 5 pct.
*The 60 pct of us in the middle saw an income decline of about 3 pct.
*If you were in the top .1 pct, your income grew by an average of 390 pct.

If anybody still believes in the "trickle down" theory, the above facts should clear his or her head. Unions are being busted, working people are losing benefits and working for less. Corporations are sitting on big profits, but jobs are being transported abroad. Meanwhile, the rich enjoy tax loopholes and tax cuts.

Given population increases and inflation, expenditures rise. With the rich getting richer and the rest of us poorer, it is entirely reasonable and moral that the rich should pay more than they do now. From 1980 to 2010, US population rose by about 37 pct. from 226.5 million to 308.7 million, an increase of 82 million people. Over the same time, inflation rose steadily. What cost one dollar in 1980, cost $2.61 in 2010. Then figure in huge military increases (including two dumb-ass, un-budgeted wars (approx. $1.46 trillion) and Bush tax cuts, mostly for the rich, at $1.8 trillion. Grover Norquist pledge never to raise taxes--without going into how federal budgets differ fundamentally from state,local, and personal budgets. Norquist and his signers are simpletons.

If we have any chance to regain a democratic republic, we'd better get to work. Jonathan is not on our side.

Boy Mr. Hoop, isn’t capitalism a wonderful thing. The harder someone works, the smarter someone is, the MORE money they make. And on the contrary, the lazier someone is, the more dumbed-down one becomes, and the more dependent one is on government, the LESS money they make. Funny how that works out, isn’t it? Thank God you and I live in a free society like America! (Your infatuation with my address is starting to get a bit creepy, and not that it is any of your business, but I pay my own bills, buddy.)

Are you insuating that hard work, smarts, & money are the measuring stick for a man's worth? And that, lazy equates to lack of smarts & that the combination of those two things equates to dependency on government handouts?

If you are, you are lacking in real knowledge about mankind and the social structure that makes civilization.

History is full of biographies of people who had no physical wealth and very little formal education but they contributed more to mankind and human relationship than all the monied and smart folks. History also reveals biographies of some folks who had great wealth, high IQs, and social status but wound up being of little value in community service.

I've also known some 'rich' folks who didn't have the gumption to butter their own toast. I had an Aunt, who depended on the hired girl (servant) to feed, bathe, and diaper her kids, but that hired girl was not human enough to sit at the dinner table, whether the kids were there or not.

Wealth, intelligence, and social standing is a very poor yardstick for measuring a persons worth to society.

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