Clean copy: Bernie Sanders and the Myth of the 1 Percent

  

Category:  Stock Market & Investments

Via:  bob-nelson  •  3 years ago  •  47 comments

Clean copy: Bernie Sanders and the Myth of the 1 Percent
The very rich are richer than people imagine.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



original

A peculiar chapter in the 2020 presidential race ended Monday, when Bernie Sanders, after months of foot-dragging, finally released his tax returns. The odd thing was that the returns appear to be perfectly innocuous. So what was all that about?

The answer seems to be that Sanders got a lot of book royalties after the 2016 campaign, and was afraid that revealing this fact would produce headlines mocking him for now being part of the 1 Percent. Indeed, some journalists did try to make his income an issue.

This line of attack is, however, deeply stupid. Politicians who support policies that would raise their own taxes and strengthen a social safety net they’re unlikely to need aren’t being hypocrites; if anything, they’re demonstrating their civic virtue.

But failure to understand what hypocrisy means isn’t the only way our discourse about politics and inequality goes off the rails. The catchphrase “the 1 Percent” has also become a problem, obscuring the nature of class in 21st-century America.

Focusing on the top percentile of the income distribution was originally intended as a corrective to the comforting but false notion that growing inequality was mainly about a rising payoff to education. The reality is that over the past few decades the typical college graduate has seen only modest gains, with the big money going to a small group at the top. Talking about “the 1 Percent” was shorthand for acknowledging this reality, and tying that reality to readily available data.

But putting Bernie Sanders and the Koch brothers in the same class is obviously getting things wrong in a different way.

True, there’s a huge difference between being affluent enough that you don’t have to worry much about money and living with the financial insecurity that afflicts many Americans who consider themselves middle class. According to the Federal Reserve , 40 percent of U.S. adults don’t have enough cash to meet a $400 emergency expense; a much larger number of Americans would be severely strained by the kinds of costs that routinely arise when, say, illness strikes, even for those who have health insurance.

So if you have an income high enough that you can easily afford health care and good housing, have plenty of liquid assets and find it hard to imagine ever needing food stamps, you’re part of a privileged minority.

But there’s also a big difference between being affluent, even very affluent, and having the kind of wealth that puts you in a completely separate social universe. It’s a difference summed up three decades ago in the movie “Wall Street,” when Gordon Gekko mocks the limited ambitions of someone who just wants to be “a $400,000-a-year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable.”

original Private jets were the preferred mode of transportation
of the elite attending the annual Allen & Company
conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Even now, most Americans don’t seem to realize just how rich today’s rich are. At a recent event, my CUNY colleague Janet Gornick was greeted with disbelief when she mentioned in passing that the top 25 hedge fund managers make an average of $850 million a year. But her number was correct.

One survey found that Americans, on average, think that corporate C.E.O.s are paid about 30 times as much as ordinary workers, which hasn’t been true since the 1970s . These days the ratio is more like 300 to 1.

Why should we care about the very rich? It’s not about envy, it’s about oligarchy.

With great wealth comes both great power and a separation from the concerns of ordinary citizens. What the very rich want, they often get; but what they want is often harmful to the rest of the nation. There are some public-spirited billionaires, some very wealthy liberals. But they aren’t typical of their class.

The very rich don’t need Medicare or Social Security; they don’t use public education or public transit; they may not even be that reliant on public roads (there are helicopters, after all). Meanwhile, they don’t want to pay taxes.

Sure enough, and contrary to popular belief, billionaires mostly (although often stealthily ) wield their political power on behalf of tax cuts at the top, a weaker safety net and deregulation. And financial support from the very rich is the most important force sustaining the extremist right-wing politics that now dominates the Republican Party.

That’s why it’s important to understand who we mean when we talk about the very rich. It’s not doctors, lawyers or, yes, authors, some of whom make it into “the 1 Percent.” It’s a much more rarefied social stratum.

None of this means that the merely affluent should be exempt from the burden of creating a more decent society. The Affordable Care Act was paid for in part by taxes on incomes in excess of $200,000, so 400K-a-year working stiffs did pay some of the cost. That’s O.K.: They (we) can afford it. And whining that $200,000 a year isn’t really rich is unseemly.

But we should be able to understand both that the affluent in general should be paying more in taxes, and that the very rich are different from you and me ­— and Bernie Sanders. The class divide that lies at the root of our political polarization is much starker, much more extreme than most people seem to realize.

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.

Initial image: Bernie Sanders speaking at a Fox News town-hall event on the day he released his tax returns. Matt Rourke/Associated Press



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Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Bob Nelson    3 years ago
With great wealth comes both great power and a separation from the concerns of ordinary citizens. What the very rich want, they often get; but what they want is often harmful to the rest of the nation. There are some public-spirited billionaires, some very wealthy liberals. But they aren’t typical of their class.

The very rich don’t need Medicare or Social Security; they don’t use public education or public transit; they may not even be that reliant on public roads (there are helicopters, after all). Meanwhile, they don’t want to pay taxes.

Please read the seed before Commenting, and please Comment on-topic. Thank you.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
2  seeder  Bob Nelson    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
3  seeder  Bob Nelson    3 years ago

About a hundred grand of income or a million in net worth including untaxed retirement savings will land one at the very bottom of the top one percent in America. While that is comfortable it is not rich except in comparison with the half of Americans who have no net worth. Still, the upper middle class is not the problem.

The problem is that our tax laws have allowed a very few to hoard nearly all our national wealth. Sam Walton's six kids are each fifty times richer than The Queen of England. When a mere fifty or so families own well over ninety percent of all the world's combined wealth something is wrong. Economics is just math. Things got this way intentionally. Things can change and they need to. 

If you want to talk about transferred wealth let's talk about how Voodoo Trickle Down Supply Side Economics resulted in practically all wealth being legally transferred to a very few over the last generation.

(BN: Reply from JBB copy/pasted.)

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
3.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Bob Nelson @3    3 years ago

We use "the 1 %" because it's an easy shorthand. The truly wealthy are the 0.01% or higher. And getting much wealthier, much faster than anyone else:

original

(BN: Reply from me copy/pasted.)

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
3.1.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1    3 years ago

Agreed...

(BN: Reply from JBB copy/pasted.)

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
5  seeder  Bob Nelson    3 years ago

As with many well off politicians who profess to be "socialists", my impression of Bernie wanting to share the wealth is that he is fine with it as long as it is other folk's wealth and not his...

(BN: Reply from Ed-NavDoc copy/pasted.)

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
5.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    3 years ago

I have not seen anything from Bernie that would exempt him from the taxes that he proposes. Have you?

Politicians who support policies that would raise their own taxes and strengthen a social safety net they’re unlikely to need aren’t being hypocrites; if anything, they’re demonstrating their civic virtue.

(BN: Reply from me, copy/pasted.)

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
6  evilgenius    3 years ago

This primary my vote is going to Klobuchar. I voted for Sanders in the last primary, but I was turned off on how he handled things once he knew he had no chance to win the nomination. I still don't think he can win an election. Unless the full might of every DNC Party member did a full press (as early as possible) I think he might even lose against Trump. 

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6.1  Ender  replied to  evilgenius @6    3 years ago

I never thought he had a chance. Klobuchar does seem very well spoken on a lot of issues.

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
Junior Participates
7  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו    3 years ago

You will never get many [deleted] of the rightwing to understand the difference between a wealthy Dem/Liberal who's fine with having his/her taxes increased and a mega-rich conservative whose entire life is dedicated to trying to pay few or no taxes at all.  It's a moral position that a lot of them [deleted] simply have no ability to comprehend.  

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
7.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @7    3 years ago

I agree.

I've had people ask me if I have given all my property to the poor. I never know if they don't understand, or if their question is in Bad Faith.

And your Reply would be easier to read without the digressions into the usages of the English language...  jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
Junior Participates
7.1.1  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  Bob Nelson @7.1    3 years ago
And your Reply would be easier to read without the digressions into the usages of the English language.

Normally, I'd agree but I got dinged for a SG the other day when I used the phrase "I know types" [of people] so the definition of what an SG is seems to have been greatly expanded by at least one Mod. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
7.1.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @7.1.1    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
7.2  Ender  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @7    3 years ago

I can only laugh when people call it envy. Far from it. To me that is akin to yelling, look squirrel.

I will never understand how people can cheer policy and tax cuts that were never meant to work for themselves.

They cheer on the great divide, basically willingly do the bidding of the elite of which they will never be a part.

All under some weird justification of freedom.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
7.2.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ender @7.2    3 years ago

Serf mentality.

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
8  It Is ME    3 years ago

"Even now, most Americans don’t seem to realize just how rich today’s rich are."

Most Americans don't worry about stuff like that. They actually have lives that work for them ! 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
8.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  It Is ME @8    3 years ago
They actually have lives that work for them !

No, actually, they do not. Conversations like this would be easier if you read the seed:

According to the Federal Reserve , 40 percent of U.S. adults don’t have enough cash to meet a $400 emergency expense...
 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
8.1.1  It Is ME  replied to  Bob Nelson @8.1    3 years ago

I didn't see "Worry" in your link.

I just see "Stats".

I have been in those "Stats" from time to time....But I damn sure didn't worry about who had more money than I did.

I'm on a "Cash" basis only now. jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

Your article IS one of those …."OMG, someone else has money" moments.....right ?

"The very rich are richer than people imagine."

[ deleted ]

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
8.1.2  It Is ME  replied to  It Is ME @8.1.1    3 years ago
[ deleted ]

Truth does Hurt ! jrSmiley_98_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
8.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  It Is ME @8.1.2    3 years ago
'Truth'

Where ?

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
8.1.4  It Is ME  replied to  Tessylo @8.1.3    3 years ago
Where ?

Ya musta missed it. It's in that [delete] comment. ya just weren't quick enough I guess. 

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
Junior Participates
8.1.5  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  It Is ME @8.1.2    3 years ago
Truth does Hurt !

I'd accept your expertise on that. 

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
8.1.6  It Is ME  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @8.1.5    3 years ago
I'd accept your expertise on that. 

I knew you would. jrSmiley_9_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
8.1.7  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  It Is ME @8.1.1    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
10  Ed-NavDoc    3 years ago

So why was post #4 deleted?

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
10.1  It Is ME  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @10    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
10.1.1  It Is ME  replied to  It Is ME @10.1    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
Junior Participates
10.1.2  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  It Is ME @10.1.1    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
It Is ME
Masters Principal
10.1.3  It Is ME  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @10.1.2    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
10.1.4  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  It Is ME @10.1.1    3 years ago
My comment MUST HAVE BEEN WRONG !

No your comment was meta and belonged in "Metafied"

 
 
 
livefreeordie
Junior Quiet
12  livefreeordie    3 years ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
livefreeordie
Junior Quiet
12.1  livefreeordie  replied to  livefreeordie @12    3 years ago

My comment was 100% on topic. You just found the truth inconvenient to your seed theme

 
 

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