The rich are not like you and me. They’re rich.

The yacht buyers in New York state got a tax break.

povertykids2

The few who understand the system, will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages…will bear its burden without complaint, and perhaps without suspecting that the system is inimical to their best interests. — Rothschild Brothers of London communiqué to associates in New York June 25, 1863

Is it me, or has the blatant disregard for the lesser people economically in the society, to the advantage of the well-to-do, become more painfully obvious of late? Of course, it’s been around a long while in the United States; I’ve seen the Gilded Age mansions. But in recent decades, income inequality is not just on the rise, but in full gallop mode.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on April 9, 2015. Among the topics she talked about was the inability of our federal government to lower the interest on student loans – the outstanding debt jumped to $1.3 trillion in 2014 from $1.2 trillion, an increase of $100 billion in one year – because the Republicans blocked it, citing that the Congressional Budget Office does not use “fair-value accounting” to measure risk. But for reasons she explains, this is a bogus argument.

Moreover, if the crushing burden of student loans were lifted, these people could be buying houses, and other goods and services, stimulating the economy. Meanwhile, the financial industry is getting loans at or close to ZERO percent interest, so they’re doing just fine on even a modest return on investment.

Lots of examples of the double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits, such as Kansas getting ready to prevent welfare recipients from going to swimming pools and the movies.

SamuraiFrog wrote this recently: “It goes like this: you don’t get a say in how other people live their lives. You just don’t. Even if it involves your precious tax dollars and the (on average) $36 a year of it that goes to food stamps. You have no problem with the $870 a year you pay for corporate tax subsidies, but the thought of a poor person being able to buy a steak or a cupcake fills you with rage? Ridiculous.”

Interestingly, the best example of the absurdity of this attitude, well dubbed as scapegoat economics, comes from The Onion, a parody site that tells a great truth.

Here’s the thing: being poor sucks. The payday loans, higher interest rates, the immobility to get to work. I was working on a reference question recently, and I recognized that those rent-to-own places are toxic, where the poor can pay $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa. Moreover, because of depressed wages, there are plenty of folks who are working, but need public assistance anyway.

Meanwhile, the yacht buyers in New York state got a tax break in the budget just passed at the end of March 2015, because, as state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos noted, “Blah blah blah trickle down blah blah.” Indeed, the rich get government handouts just like the poor. Talk about your entitlement programs.

Congressional Republicans find the need to try to end the estate tax, which affects the heirs of the top 0.2 percent.

So what to do about it? I want/need to ponder on that. Probably will write another blog post, sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, this has been running through my head: Money Make The World Go Round from the movie Cabaret (1972).

Happy Income Tax day?
***
Arthur writes about Hillary Clinton entering the race for President (no surprise), and dealing with Big Money.
***
The IRS — A Love Song. John Oliver. And Michael Bolton.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

8 thoughts on “The rich are not like you and me. They’re rich.”

  1. I read this out loud to my wife, and she wonders if people mistakenly assume that being on welfare is like winning the lottery, where you don’t have to work as hard. We get SNAP benefits, but that’s it. I can’t work because of my mental disabilities, which have had very physical consequences for me. She works four jobs. We barely make our rent every month, and we’d have to make $20,000 a year more just to get up to our state’s middle class line. I’m just very sick of being told that “giving” us more money will somehow make us work less, but giving the top earners more money (in the form of tax breaks) will somehow make them work more. I bristle with unalloyed rage every time I read yet another article about how someone wants to make it legal to take even more away from us. What did we do wrong that now people don’t even want us to enjoy a swimming pool occasionally?

    I’ve been living with the looming fear of homelessness for a long time now. It’s hard to get your mental disabilities in order when you can’t relax because you’re worried (however irrationally) that if you relax for a second the bottom will drop out and there’s no safety net. We have to get payday loans sometimes. We have to pay our rent late almost every month, so there are late fees. Sometimes we have to go overdrawn, and there are fees with that. Do people have any idea how expensive it actually is to be poor? We are being nickel-and-dimed constantly with fees to the point where it might as well be a tax on poverty, and then people turn around and judge you in the checkout aisle because they see that SNAP card and think they’re paying for your occasional hamburger meat.

    It’s humiliating. Constantly having to reapply for any form of assistance is humiliating. You’re not a human being, you’re a case number and a set of statistics. Being in tremendous debt you wonder if you’ll ever pay off is humiliating. And somehow it’s everyone’s business, and people are constantly judging whether you fit some weird mental criteria of how poor people should live, based on this misguided, untrue notion that everyone in America can get out of the hole if they just skip the movies and the steak and buckle down.

    BS.

  2. Good post. One correction, though– the letter you quote at the beginning was a forgery.

  3. And yet we’re supposedly a “Christian” country. There are really times when I feel like giving up on the United States. I used to think, “Surely we’ll get there sooner or later. We’ll realize what we should be doing, and we’ll get it done.” Instead…this.

  4. To be honest, Jaquandor, my Christian faith FUELS my understanding of a more equitable distribution of wealth.

  5. Lex and I, along with Riley, were on certain public assistance when Lex was in school and I was laid off unexpectedly. We remained on Family Health Care Plus, as well as receiving heating assistance, until he graduated, because it was hard for me to find work with my mental problems. We were incredibly grateful for the help, but it was hard to accept it… so much stigma. Riley hated the free lunch stuff so much, we had to come up with lunch she could take to school so she didn’t have to stand in the “handout line.” (They still had that at her school back then.)

    My Tea Party sisters have NEVER been without, although it’s worth noting that my elder sister was buoyed by Social Security for over 20 years after she was widowed. She says now that she paid for the privilege, but she FORGETS that SOCIAL SECURITY WAS CREATED TO TAKE CARE OF THE OLDER GENERATION. She happened to be young when she first accessed it. Now remarried, she doesn’t need the money, but she will be first in line when it’s time to collect. Double dipping in the most shameless way while kids go hungry. Amy

  6. This is exactly why my taxes pissed me off this year. I really, really don’t begrudge a single dollar spent on education, feeding the poor (whether or not they are on drugs), housing the homeless, etc.

    I get angry because (1) I know people who make twice what I do and pay less in taxes, so they’re not paying their fair share and (2) I have friends in the military who tell me exactly what my taxes are going to. For example, in Afghanistan the military can hand a local up to $1000 with no questions asked and no accounting. So because a couple of infantry guys thought it was funny to set some goats on fire all my taxes – which I want to go to schools and food stamps – were gobbled up.

  7. In the United States we used to have a thing called the Hamiltonian System. It basically recycled wealth back into our country, it was put in place during the administration of George Washington. It was finally completely dismantled in 1996 because of the influence of corporations and plutocrats who were looking to increase their holdings. As a result wealth leaves our country and never comes back.

    Meanwhile, from the 1980s onward, China set up a system not quite the same as our now defunct Hamiltonian System, but it effectively recycles wealth back into their country. As a result we are getting poorer and China is getting richer. Our wealth is flowing mostly to China. This is not rocket science.

    Empires usually fall because the stupid selfish greedy rich loot them to death. They crap in their own nest, that is their nature. The barbarians are always waiting at the gates, but after the rich completely loot the empire no one cares about the empire anymore and no one bothers to defend those gates. We’re well on our way.

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