Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spreading the Wealth?

If you're living in the United States you've heard--ad nauseam--John McCain accusing Barack Obama of, God forbid, wanting to "spread the wealth." McCain tells his Republican small business-owner ("Joe the plumber") audiences, "Obama is talking about spreading your wealth." And the crowd cheers. Obama, meanwhile, wants his more working class fans to believe that he really will "spread the wealth." That's why he lets on that he'll only tax people earning more than a quarter million dollars a year, and that he'll make sure everyone will have medical insurance.

Most Americans think it's about time some of the wealth was spread around a bit more evenly and fairly, especially now that our "you're on your own--invest wisely" retirement funds, that we had to take in exchange for guaranteed pension plans, are worth half of their pre-September value.

The truth of the matter is that both John McCain and Barack Obama really do want to transfer wealth from some people to other people. In fact, the American plutocracy, itself, wants to transfer a lot of wealth. Actually, they've already done it to a large extent, and they're doing it even more as I type these words. Here is what I mean.

Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and President of Harvard University, and currently a professor of economics, recently told a conference on gobal capitalism at the Harvard Business School, according to Andrea Silbert's October 30, 2008 Op-Ed in the Boston Globe, that "the top 1 percent of earners in the United States gained $600 billion annually in income while the bottom 80 percent lost that same $600 billion from 1979 to 2008. That translates into an average gain of $500,000 in annual income for each person at the top, while those at the bottom lost an average $8,000." It took 28 years to transfer those 600 billion dollars. But now they are stepping up the pace.

As William Greider describes in gory detail, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is using the notorious "bailout"--that is funded by our taxpayer dollars--not to "fix the economy" but simply to enrich the banksters. Paulson "paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could purchase for $62.5 billion. That means half of the public's money was a straight-out gift to Wall Street, for which taxpayers got nothing in return."
A transfer of $62.5 billion in just a matter of days! At this rate...well, you can do the math.

But wait. There's more!

Barry Grey describes in gory detail the "'Dirty Little Secret' of the U.S. Bank Bailout." Based on statements made by a top executive of JPMorgan Chase on a private telephone conference call eavesdropped on by a New York Times reporter, and printed in the NYT (October 25), "the dirty little secret of the banking industry" is that "it has no intention of using the [government bailout] money to make new loans." Large banks intend to use the money to buy up smaller ones. The entire $700 billion is our gift to the biggest banksters.

Whether it is Obama or McCain who is elected president, he will be forced to squeeze the $700 billion bailout out of our pockets one way or another, making a mockery of either man's promise not to raise taxes--and they both know it. By pitting working class people against "Joe the plumber" small business-owners, both politicians are demonstrating to the plutocracy that they can be relied upon skillfully to use divide-and-rule to prevent the public from uniting against the plutocracy. That's the real job description of the presidency, after all. How persuasively each man demonstrates his competence for the job is what determines how much corporate funding and media support he receives.


At 7:49 AM, October 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article about wealth transfer, a term usually used as propaganda for the rich. In reality, the vast majority of wealth transfers are from working people to the rich, not the other way around.


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