Archive | October, 2015

Richer and Poorer

5 Oct

Why is it so hard for some politicians like Bernie Sanders to understand that rich getting richer does not mean the poor are getting poorer?

That above is a Straw man question on Quora. I love this answer from Lee Thé, which, while dealing with the USA is equally applicable to the UK. Just substitute “Tory” for Republican. Read and learn:-

Technically speaking, the questioner is right–the 99% aren’t getting poorer for the most part, even as the rich get richer and richer and richer.

That is, while American workers have become vastly more productive and generated far more wealth, the richest of the rich have appropriated all that additional wealth for themselves.

To put it another way, the ratio of income between the rich and the rest was around 20 to 1 from the mid-1930s up until the Republicans Revolution–that is, the Republicans voted in on the backlash by Southern whites to the Democrats requiring that they treat blacks like human beings. Most Southern whites found this intolerable and promptly switched sides because the Republican Party promised them “states’ rights” which was DogWhistle English for “we’ll help you put blacks back in their place.”

Which they did, resulting in a network of new laws and practices that resegregated the South and restored the Jim Crow South that persists to this day (without ever explicitly naming blacks while doing so).

The price the Republican leadership exacted for this favor was deregulating big business, upon which the 20 to 1 ratio zoomed up to over 200 to 1 in a few decades.

Because without regulation, the impulse of most rich people is to take everything for themselves and their immediate families. To get themselves the best Congress money can buy and fill the trough with taxpayer dollars.

Which makes the Republican accusation of “wealth redistribution” against the Democrats ironic, since it’s the Republicans who did the redistribution, in favor of their patrons.

Likewise the accusations of “class war.” There is no class war. There was, but it’s over. The rich won. They got themselves a Supreme Court majority and a congressional majority and over half the states, and a raft of legislation and backroom deals and court decisions that enabled the richest of the rich to capture government wherever it affected their pursuit of profit–especially profit from filling the trough with taxpayer dollars, such as the law the Republicans passed forbidding government agencies from negotiating with Big Pharma over drug prices, resulting in Americans paying vastly more than citizens of other countries for the same drugs.

All this is based on the assertion that the very rich don’t care about anyone but themselves and their greed. This isn’t some Marxist thang. It’s a finding by social psychologists.

“Recent studies show, for example, that wealthier people are more likely to cut people off in traffic and to behave unethically in simulated business and charity scenarios. Earlier this year, statistics on charitable giving revealed that while the wealthy donate about 1.3% of their income to charity, the poorest actually give more than twice as much as a proportion of their earnings — 3.2%.”

“In five different experiments involving several hundred undergraduates and 100 adults recruited from online communities, the researchers found higher levels of both narcissism and entitlement among those of higher income and social class.

“The study, which was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, showed that when asked to visually depict themselves as circles, with size indicating relative importance, richer people picked larger circles for themselves and smaller ones for others. Another experiment found that they also looked in the mirror more frequently.”

“…Madeline Levine, a California psychologist and author of Teach Your Children Well, who has long treated affluent teens in her practice. “Their sense of entitlement is overpowering,” she says, describing a teenage patient who stomped in furious and feeling deprived because he was stuck driving his mother’s “mom-car Lexus” rather than being given his own BMW.”