Further congratulations to the folks at the Institute for Policy Studies, whose “Executive Excess 2011” report continues to make waves in the media. Thanks in part, no doubt, to the recent hoopla around the “Warren Buffett Rule,” proposing higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. (“The horror.”)
As they note at the end of the video above, without effective media coverage, “this type of critical analysis would not be possible.”
And the analysis, theirs and others, of economic inequality is needed more than ever these days.
While media coverage of economic inequality seems to occur with less frequency than hurricanes blowing though New York City, today appears to be the anomaly. Several publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico have all run stories about the new, revealing study, “Executive Excess 2011,” by the folks at The Institute for Policy Studies, which shows that last year “25 CEOs took home more in pay than their company paid in 2010 federal income taxes.”
Hopefully, this is the beginning of more to come. (Media coverage of economic inequality. As opposed to instances of tax abuse. Of course.)
I finally watched the (Oscar-winning) documentary Inside Job, “the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008” (that continues today). The film’s conclusion (spoiler alert!): we have a “Wall Street government,” and have since the 1980s, which disproportionately serves the beneficiaries of the financial sector, often at the (very literal) expense of everyone else.
While I had been meaning to watch Inside Job for a while, something always delayed me from doing so. Now that I’ve watched it, I realize what it is: the disturbing reality of our embedded “financial-industrial complex,” which, unfortunately, has not changed at all under the Obama Administration.
As the film’s writer, director and producer Craig Ferguson notes, Continue reading
As Doc Brown observed in the 1985 film Back to the Future: “Ronald Reagan? The actor [is President of the United States]? Then who’s Vice-President? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady! … And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury!”
If Ronald Reagan can do it, then why not Matt Damon?
Recently, Damon put the liberal back in Liberal Hollywood with his commentary on our current tax structure, and the correlative economic inequality our society is mired in:
“It’s criminal that so little is asked of people who are getting so much. I don’t mind paying more. I really don’t mind paying more taxes. I’d rather pay for taxes than cut Reading Is Fundamental, of Head Start, or some of these programs that are really helping kids. This is the greatest country in the world. Is it that much worse if you’re paying 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it. You get to be American.”
Conceding that a $250,000 annual salary takes the focus too close to the middle class, Damon suggests a tax reform of raising taxes on those making over $1 million/year, with a tax of 50% for those making over $5 million/year. “Why don’t you just tax the really rich?” Damon challenges. “Guys like me.”
Democrats, are you listening?
Check out this telling graphic from United for a Fair Economy, which makes me wonder: in a society where the political campaign prerequisites (read: money) are making it more and more difficult for most people to get elected as political representatives, and serve their constituency (read: not the wealthy), can our democracy survive this kind of egregious economic inequality?
It is fine to have financial incentives and rewards for those in society who value working hard toward those aims. But when the wealth of a few threatens the livelihood and economic opportunity of so many others, then it seems something is quite out of balance.
To me, this looks more like an aristocracy than a democracy. And that is not good.