This oligarchical usurpation of influence

You know who’s bad for the economy? Billionaires.

Perhaps no group bears more responsibility for the plight of the middle class than billionaires. An IMF study confirms that increasing inequality, especially at the very top of the wealth and income scale, is weakening economic growth.

I wish everybody would stop saying “middle class” when they mean at least middle-and-working, and often just working. I wish “working class” weren’t such a taboo category in mainstream US political discourse. It’s not as if the middle class is in a plight while the working class is just doing fabulously.


“In contrast,” the report found, “an increase in the income share of the bottom 20 percent (the poor) is associated with higher … growth.” And higher growth means more jobs.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a world-leading expert on inequality, writes, “Our middle class is too weak to support the consumer spending that has historically driven our economic growth.” But instead of ensuring that lower-income and middle-class people share in economic growth, the opposite has been happening: Even after last week’s improved economic news, most of the economy’s gains are still going to the wealthiest Americans.

There we go – lower-income along with middle. That’s better.

It’s the old Henry Ford eureka moment – if you pay the workers a decent wage, they can buy your product! Awesome! But of course billionaires want everyone else to pay decent wages to support consumer spending, while they pay shit wages to support their houses and yachts and Mercedes SUVs.

The 0.01 percent — the 16,000 wealthiest Americans — have as much wealth as 80 percent of the nation’s population, some 256,000,000 people. Their shared wealth comes to $9 trillion. And at the end of 2015, a mere 536 people in the United States had a collective net worth of $2.6 trillion.


We now know what we have long suspected, thanks to political science research published at Princeton University: Political decision-making in this country is driven by corporate and ultra-wealthy elites, not by the democratic majority. This oligarchical usurpation of influence has led office holders at all levels to implement policies that kill jobs, depress wages and increase inequality.

These policies include government spending cuts, tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations, bad trade deals (which Trump says he opposes; the team suggests otherwise) and economically destructive deregulation.

But it’s all cool because a tiny number of people make out like bandits.

Know what also reduces inequality, helps create jobs and raises working people’s wages?Unions. It isn’t immigrants who are weakening the collective bargaining power of the American worker. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers are financing anti-union court cases and flooding our political system with cash to eliminate one of the 99 percent’s most effective tools for economic self-improvement.

Right-wing corporations and billionaires are conducting class warfare on the 99 percent and environmental warfare on the planet. That’s why we need to enact a new, broad agenda: higher taxes on the wealthy, an increased minimum wage, strengthened workers’ rights, sweeping environmental measures and greater government spending for critical needs like infrastructure health and education.

That would be good. I don’t see it happening any time soon, but it would be good.

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